Word Rockstar Part 1 – Create clickable checkboxes

If you've landed here after a search for how to add checkboxes to Microsoft Word documents, then you've come to the right place.

Better at what you do every day

In my mind, becoming better at Microsoft Word is like becoming better at cooking - two skills that you use almost every day, and two skills which can radically improve your life even if you just make one or two small improvements.

So with that thought in mind, let's kick off this Likeaboss Word series with a few tips and tricks that will help you become a Microsoft Word rockstar.

In this first entry, we'll cover two  two ways to add checkboxes to your Word docs - one that's best for printed documents, and the other that lets you create interactive checkboxes in digital documents.

(In fact, be sure to check back often for posts about how to become more effective with the apps you use everyday.)

Option One. Create a printed checkbox

If you're creating a checklist that's for printed reference, all you really have to do is start with a bullet list. Then, just change the bullets from the default symbol to empty boxes (or whatever else you like).

Here's what to do:

  1. In the Word document, go to the Home tab, then click the small arrow to the right of the “Bullet List” button
  2. On the dropdown menu, select the “Define new bullet” command.
  3. After selecting your new symbol, click the “OK” button to close the “Symbol” window, and then click “OK.”

Alternatively, you can just type the number “163” into the “Character Code” box to select it an empty square symbol. Of course, if you see a symbol you like better—like the open circle (symbol 153)—choose that instead.

What's more, the last symbol you've just selected should now appear under the “Recently Used Bullets” section of your Bullet Library.

But sometimes a printed doc isn't enough. Sometimes, you'll ask for feedback, or otherwise verify a process has been completed without having to request paper copies. In that case...

Option Two. Create a clickable checkbox

Now let's talk about the really cool way to make Word checklists, which is by doing it electronically. It only takes a few seconds once you know where to click:

  1. First, add the “Developer” tab on the Ribbon.
  2. Position your cursor in the document where you want a checkbox, switch over to the “Developer” tab, and in the Controls grouping, click the “Check Box Content Control” button.
  3. You should now see an interactive checkbox wherever you placed your cursor. Just click the box to mark it with an “X."

You can also select the whole form box to move the checkbox around, format it, copy and paste... you get the idea. It behaves much like an inserted icon or image. Here's what to look for, as shown on the OSX version of Word using the Dark Theme.

Add a Checkbox from the Developer tab

That's it! With these two techniques in your rockstar toolbelt, you can easily turn a written process into a checklist your team can use to make each step is completed from beginning to end.

Atul Gawandi would be proud. (And yes, I've actually read the book.)

As always, I've created a companion video with the entire walkthrough. And if you do click through to the vid, please make sure to subscribe for all the latest tips and tricks on the apps you use most.


For most, Microsoft Word is like cooking - something you do practically every day, and if you do well, it adds tremendous value to your life. (In fact, it's never a bad idea to get really great with the apps you use every day.)

Might as well get really, really good at it, then.

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