Microsoft Access Lessons Home

Data Field Design

 

Form and Report Design

 

Controls Selection

To manipulate controls on the form, you will regularly need to select them. When one control is selected, you can change only its characteristics. When many controls are selected, you can make a change that would impact all of them. 

To select a control, you can just click it. A control that is selected displays 8 handles around it:

To select:

  • More than one control, at random, click one, then press and hold Shift. While holding Shift, click each of the desired controls. After selecting the controls, release Shift.
  • Controls aligned vertically, click inside of the horizontal ruler above the highest positioned control: everything that would be touched by the fake line will be selected. In the same way, you can select controls that are horizontally aligned by clicking inside the vertical ruler.
  • Many controls in the same area on the form, click next to one of them and draw a fake rectangle that covers each of the desired controls. All controls touched by the fake rectangle would be selected when you release the mouse.
  • To select all controls on the form, press Ctrl + A. You can also click inside of one of the rulers on one end and drag to the other end.
 

Practical Learning: Selecting Controls

  1. On the form, click the EmployeeNumber text box. Notice that although only the text box was selected, the corresponding label has its upper-left corner selected also
  2. Press Ctrl + A. Notice that all of the controls/items on the form have been selected:
     
  3. To dismiss the selection, click an unoccupied area in one of the sections of the form
  4. Click the EmailAddress text box. Press and hold Shift. Then click the Middle Name label and the EmployeeNumber text box. Release Shift
  5. Notice that these controls have been selected at random
  6. Position the mouse inside of the horizontal ruler at 2¾ (or 7cm) above the FirstName text box until the mouse cursor turns into a down pointing arrow:
     
  7. Then click. Notice that all items under the mouse cursor when it was clicked have been selected
  8. Position the mouse inside of the horizontal ruler at 41/2 (or 11½ cm) until the mouse cursor points down Click and hold your mouse at that position
  9. With your mouse still held, drag left until the mouse pointer is at 27/8:
     
  10. Release the mouse. Notice that all controls that were touched by the waving line have been selected
  11. Position the mouse inside of the vertical ruler to the left of either FirstName, MiddleName, or LastName labels until the mouse pointer turns into a right pointing arrow, then click
  12. Notice that everything horizontally positioned on the right side of the mouse pointer has been selected
  13. Position your mouse inside of the vertical ruler at 11/2 (or 3¾ cm) until the mouse turns into a right pointing arrow. Click and drag up until the mouse pointer reaches ⅝ (or 1½ cm):
     
  14. Notice that all controls on the right side of the covered area have been selected. Click an empty area on the form to deselect
  15. Click and hold your mouse on an unoccupied area in the lower-right area of the Detail section without touching any control
  16. While holding the mouse, drag up and left as if you were drawing a rectangle. While dragging, make sure your rectangle covers a few but not all controls. Then release the mouse
  17. Notice that the controls that were touched have been selected
  18. Click an unoccupied area on the form to dismiss the selection
 
 

Controls Moving

Once a control is selected, as your mouse moves over a selected control, its pointer displays a different cursor. Two of these cursors can be used to move a control:

Pointer Role
Moves the (one) selected control
Moves the control and includes its dependent, if any.
Also moves a group of selected controls

 

Practical Learning: Moving Controls

  1. Click the EmployeeNumber label to select it
  2. Position the mouse on the upper left corner of the selected control until you see a pointing finger:
     
  3. Click and drag left and right to move the label and position it somewhere 
  4. Click the EmployeeNumber text box to select it
  5. Position the mouse on the selected text box until the mouse pointer turns into an open hand:
     
  6. Click and drag right. Notice that the text box and its label have been moved
  7. To see what the form looks like at this time, on the Form Design toolbar, click the View button Form View
  8. To switch the form back to design view, on the Form View toolbar, click the View button
  9. Position the mouse on the left side of the MiddleName text box. Click and drag down and right as if you were drawing a rectangle. When the mouse reaches and touches the LastName text box, release it. Notice that all the text boxes that the rectangle touched have been selected
  10. Position your mouse on one of the selected controls until you see an open hand. Click and drag left until the MiddleName label is at 1 unit (or 2½ cm) right from the vertical ruler. Notice that all text boxes and their labels have moved
  11. Click the First Name label. Press and hold Shift. Then click the following labels: Middle Name, Last Name, Home Phone, and Email Name to select them. Release Shift
  12. Right-click any of the selected labels. Position the mouse on Align and click Left
  13. Click an unoccupied area on the form to dismiss the selection

 Controls and Sections Sizing

Resizing an object allows you to change its height or its width. This can be applied to forms, reports, their sections, or the controls they are hosting. To physically change the width of a form or a report, position the mouse on its right border until the cursor turns into a vertical beam with a double-horizontal arrow:

Then click and drag left or right until you are satisfied.

The height of a form or report is controlled by its sections. For this reason, each section controls its own height. The total heights of all sections constitute the height of the form. Based on this, to resize a form, you must actually resize one or some of its sections. To heighten a section on a form or a report, position the mouse on the lower portion of the section. For the Header or the Detail sections, that will be the upper border of the lower bar. For the Footer section, the mouse must be positioned on the lower border. The cursor turns into a narrow horizontal line with a vertical double-arrow:

To change the width of the form or report and the height of the lowest section at the same time, you can position the mouse on the lower-right corner. The cursor would change into a small square with 4 arrows:

You can then click and drag left, right, up, down, or diagonally.

When the mouse moves over a selected control and reaches one of the handles, the mouse pointer displays a double-arrow cursor. The possible mouse pointers are:

Pointer Role
Shrinks or heightens the control
Resizes the control in North-East <-> South-West direction
Narrows or widens the control
Resizes the control in North-West <-> South-East direction

Although these pointers can be used to resize one control, they can also be applied to a group of controls.

Practical Learning: Resizing Controls

  1. To increase the height of the Form Header section, position the mouse on the upper border of the Detail bar. Click and drag down until the line reaches the third mark (or the 1 cm mark) inside the vertical ruler:
     
  2. To widen the form, click and drag the right border of one of the sections to the right until it is at 4 grid units (or 10 cm) right from the most right control
  3. Click and unoccupied area on the form to dismiss the selection (just in case a control is selected)
    Click the EmployeeNumber text box to select it
  4. Position the mouse on the lower border of the selected control until the cursor turns into a vertical double arrows
  5. Click and drag down by 2 units (or ½ cm). Then release the mouse
  6. Click the FirstName text box to select it
  7. Press and hold Shift
  8. While Shift is still down, click the MiddleName text box followed by the LastName text box and release the Shift 
  9. Position the mouse on the middle right handle of one of the selected controls:
     
  10. Then click and drag left by one unit (or ¼ cm) of the horizontal ruler. Notice that all three text boxes have been narrowed
  11. Click the EmailAddress text box. Press and hold Shift. Then click the DateHired text box, and the FirstName text box. Release Shift
  12. On the main menu, click Format -> Size -> To Narrowest. Notice that all of the selected text boxes have been resized to the narrowest of the group, in this case the FirstName text box

Controls Deletion

If you have added a control or it was created by the Form Wizard or the Report Wizard, you can delete it. You can also delete a group of controls in one step.

To remove a control from the form or report, first click it and press Delete. If you click a text box or a control that is accompanied by a label and delete it, its label is deleted also.

To remove a group of controls, select them and press Delete.

Practical Learning: Deleting Controls

  1. On the form, click the EmployeeNumber text box to select it and press Delete. Notice that the text and its accompanying label have been removed
  2. Click the MiddleName label and press Delete. Notice that only the label has been removed, leaving the MiddleName text box

    Here is what we have learned so far:
     
    What we have learned in this section about form and report design
      At this time we have learned how to select:
    • One control on the form: You click it
    • Controls on the same area of the form: You draw a fake rectangle that would touch everyone of them
    • A few controls on the form: You click one, press and hold Shift, then click each of the desired controls
    • Select all items that are vertically aligned: you click inside of the horizontal line as if you were dropping a ball that would touch all of them
    • Select all items that are horizontally aligned: you click inside of the vertical line as if you were throwing a ball that would touch all items on the same line
    • Select everything on the form: Press Ctrl + A

    We also learned how to move:

    • One control: Drag a pointing finger mouse pointer on the control's upper left corner
    • A text box with its corresponding label: drag an open hand mouse pointer on it
    • Many controls: Drag an open hand mouse pointer on one of the selected controls

    And we learned how to align:

    • A control relative to another: once both are selected, right-click one of the selected controls, position the mouse on Align, and make your selection
    • Many controls relative to another or others. Same thing as above

    We learned how to resize a control:

    • after selecting it, position your mouse on one of its borders or corners and drag the double arrow mouse pointer
  3. Based on this, design the form as follows:
     
  4. After designing the form, to preview it, on the Form Design toolbar, click the View button
  5. Press Tab a few times to move the cursor from one text box to another
 

 Tab Ordering

The controls on a form are aligned in the order you desire for their sequence. Unfortunately, when you add a control on the form that already has other controls, regardless of the section or area you place the new control, it is sequentially positioned at the end of the existing controls. If you don't fix it, the data entry personnel could have a hard time figuring out how the sequence should be followed. When writing Visual Basic code, you will also find out that the sequence of navigation of controls on a form is very important.

The sequence of controls navigation is set using the Tab Order dialog box. The Tab Order dialog box is available when the form is opened in Design View. Once in Design View, either (1) on the menu bar, click View -> Tab Order; or (2) right-click on the form and click Tab Order.

The simplest and quickest way to rearrange the order of items is to click the Auto Order button. Sometimes, you will not like the arrangement made by the Tab Order dialog box. To rearrange items manually, move a row or a group of rows using the same technique we used to move field names on a table's Design View.

Practical Learning: Sequentially Ordering Controls

  1. To switch the form to Design View, on the Form View toolbar, click the View button Design View
  2. On the main menu, click View -> Tab Order…
  3. Position your mouse on the left of LastName, on the row header until the mouse turns into a right pointing arrow: 
  4. Click to select the row, and release the mouse
  5. Click and hold your mouse on the same row header
  6. Drag down by two rows and notice the horizontal line that guides you
  7. Then release the mouse
  8. Now that you have seen how to reorder the list of controls, arrange it to have the following sequence (this sequence assumes that your form looks like ours in design):
     
  9. Click OK to acknowledge the order
  10. To preview the form, right-click its title bar and click Form View
  11. On the main menu, click Window -> Size To Fit Form
  12. To save the form, press Ctrl + S
  13. To close the form, press Ctrl + F4

Opening an "Un-Openable" Form

Some of the forms created by the Database Wizard were programmed not to be opened from the Database Window, for good reasons. To explain why, here is an example.

Imagine that you create a form to process credit card payments when a customer has chosen to perform such a form of payment. The form used to process this payment should be opened only when the customer has decided to make a payment with a credit card. The user does not need to open such a form from the Database Window. Therefore, you would prevent this form from being accessed in any other way than from the form that is supposed to request its service. In the Rockville Techno database, such forms are the Project (since every project is related to a particular client, the Projects form should be opened from a chosen client), the Payment (unless performing a payment, and we want a particular payment to be related to the appropriate project, the Payment form should not be opened otherwise), and etc forms.

To open such a form, you have two alternatives:

  • From its parent form
  • In Design View

To open such a form in Form View (or in Datasheet View if that is the way the database developer wanted to display it), open its parent form, and click the appropriate button to open the desired form (all these dependent forms have their button on the parent form).

To open the form in Design View, you don't have to have its parent form; you can:

  1. Right-click the desired form in Database Window and click Design View
  2. Click the form to select it and click the Design button on the Database Window

Practical Learning: Opening a Form in Design View

  1. Make sure any form is closed (this is not necessary but desired)
  2. On the Database Window, make sure the Forms button is clicked
  3. From the Database Window, double-click Projects. Notice that a small message form requests an entry from you; otherwise it would not open the form. Click Cancel. 
  4. Right-click Projects and click Design View. Notice that this time, it opens. 
  5. Close the Projects form by clicking its system Close button 
  6. On the Database Window, click Payments to select it
  7. On the toolbar of the Database Window, click Design. That opens the Payments form in Design View
  8. To close it, click its system Close button

MOUS Topics

S22 Switch between object views
 

Exercises 

 

Yugo National Bank

  1. Open the Yugo National Bank database and open the AccountTypes form in Design View. Set its Record Source to AccountTypes and delete the text boxes on the form. Using its Field List, add its fields to the form and design it as follows:
     

    Save and close the form

  2. Use AutoForm to generate a form for each of the following tables and save the form with the following name
     
    Table Name Form Name
    Customers Customers
    Employees Employees
    TransactionTypes  TransactionTypes 

     

  3. Design the forms as follows and save them:
     
     
     
 

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