As with reports, Access gives you an easy and a more advanced way to construct a form. The easy way creates a readymade form based on a table or query. Keen eyes will notice that this process unfolds in more or less the same way as when you automatically generate a simple report.
Here's how it works:
- In the navigation pane, select the table or query you want to use to generate
Try the Products table from the Boutique Fudge database.
- Choose Create➝Forms➝Form.
A new tab appears, with your form in Layout view. The simple form shows one record at a time, with each field on a separate line (Figure E-1).
When you first create a form, Access arranges the fields from top to bottom in the same order in which they’re defined in the table. It doesn’t make any difference if you’ve rearranged the columns in the datasheet. However, Access leaves any columns you’ve hidden in the datasheet out of the form.
- Arrange the fields in the order you want by dragging them around.
One of the easiest ways to tailor your form is to drag fields from one place to another (Figure E-3).
Tip: You can add or remove fields in a form in the same way you do with a report. If the Field List pane isn’t open, then choose Form Layout Tools | Design➝Tools➝Add Existing Fields. Then, drag the field you want from the Field List pane onto the form. To remove a field, click to select it on the form, and then press Delete. However, keep in mind that people often use forms to add records, and if you want to preserve that ability, you need to make sure your form includes all the required fields for the table.
- Change your columns’ widths.
When you create a new form in Layout view, Access makes all the fields quite wide. Usually, you’ll want to shrink them down to make your form more compact. It’s also hard to read long lines of text, so you can show large amounts of information better in a narrower, taller text box.
To do so, just click to select the appropriate field; a yellow rectangle appears around it. Then, drag one of the edges. Figure E-4 shows this process in action.
- Optionally, you can double-click a field header to edit its text.
This option lets you change ProductCategoryID to just Category.
- Optionally, you can tweak the formatting to make the form more attractive, by changing fonts and colors.
You can most quickly change the formatting of your form by selecting the appropriate part (by clicking), and then using the buttons in the ribbon’s Form Layout Tools | Format➝Font section. You can also use the Form Layout Tools | Format➝Number section to adjust the way Access shows numeric values. You can also use themes to quickly change the font of every control on your form, and the color of the title region. Just choose from the Form Layout Tools | Design➝Themes section (which has the same theme settings you used with reports in Appendix D).
Often, you’ll want to format specific fields differently to make important information stand out. You can also format the title, header section, and form background. Figure E-5 shows an example of judicious field formatting.
Tip: To select more than one part of a form at once, hold down Ctrl while you click. This trick lets you apply the same formatting to several places at once.
- Save your form.
You can save your form at any time by choosing File➝Save. Or, if you close the
form without saving it, Access prompts you to save it at that time.
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