Microsoft KB Archive/171739

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Article ID: 171739

Article Last Modified on 1/20/2007


  • Microsoft Outlook 97 Standard Edition

This article was previously published under Q171739


When creating a custom form with Microsoft Outlook 97, there is no direct way to add a Help file. This article provides two approaches for working around this Outlook limitation.


NOTE: This article assumes a working knowledge of customizing Outlook forms, including Visual Basic Scripting Edition (VBScript), field, and control usage. Because each custom solution has different requirements in order to achieve the desired end result, the workaround below is offered as a starting point for achieving the end result, and should be implemented in a way that best suits the solution's needs.

The Outlook 97 object model does not provide a method for displaying Help files, and the standard controls that are available for Outlook are not designed to display Help files.

You can work around this limitation by using one of the following two methods:

Method 1 - Create a "Help" Page on the Form

Use the following steps from the Outlook Forms Help file to add a page of explanatory text to your form.

For more information on obtaining the Outlook Forms Help file, please see the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

161082 OL97: Microsoft Outlook Forms Help Available on MSL

  1. Click the page you want to add text to.
  2. On the Form menu, click Rename Page.
  3. In the Page name box, type Help, and then click OK.
  4. Drag a TextBox control from the Control Toolbox to the form.
  5. Right-click the TextBox control, and then click Properties on the shortcut menu.
  6. On the Display page, select Multi-line check box.
  7. Type the explanatory text you want in the TextBox control.
  8. Right-click the TextBox control, and then click Properties on the shortcut menu.
  9. On the Display page, select the Read only check box.


    1. Because a Help file cannot be associated with a form, you cannot use the HelpContextId property to create Help for an Outlook Form.
    2. If the Compose page is different from the Read page, you may need to create separate Help pages.

Method 2 - Use a Custom ActiveX Component

Create an ActiveX component using Microsoft Visual Basic 5.0 and have this component (formally known as an OLE automation server) display the Help file. Using this approach, you can:

  • Place a CommandButton control on the form.
  • Set the caption of the control to "Help."
  • Create a CommandButton_Click subroutine in VBScript to run code when the user clicks the button.
  • Have the code use the CreateObject method to access your custom ActiveX component.


For more information about creating solutions with Microsoft Outlook 97, please see the following articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

166368 OL97: How to Get Help Programming with Outlook

170783 OL97: Q&A: Questions about Customizing or Programming Outlook

Additional query words: OutSol OutSol97

Keywords: KB171739