Tips from the Access Experts – Improving the Look and Feel of a Form
Access does not appear to have many options for making a form look nice. However even with the rather limited Access design options, you can turn a form into something a bit more colourful with just a few simple changes.
Using this data entry form as an example...
.. we will see how we can transform it into a much more user-friendly design.
Tidying up the form
First of all, as this form is going to be used for a single record entry rather than displaying multiple records, we can get rid of a lot of the surplus functions we don’t need.
On the forms properties “format” tab we can change the following options
- Record Selectors = No
- Navigation buttons = No
- Scroll Bars = Neither
- Border Style = Thin
This changes the form as follows:
…which is already a big improvement.
Boxing the fields
Select a rectangle from the toolbar (found in the ‘Design’ menu option when the form is in ‘Design’ mode) and add it to the form.
On the rectangle properties change the following options:
- Back style = Normal
- Back color = any light colour you want
- Special Effect = you can keep as ‘etched’ or change to ‘raised’ if you want
Then right click on the rectangle and choose the ‘Send to back option’ which is found under the ‘position’ option. This ensures the rectangle moves to the back and doesn’t hide all the fields.
We can create several boxes to group like fields together as you can see below.
Adding a form header allows a title to be added. Right click on the form background and select “Form Header/Footer”. You can remove the footer part by dragging the bottom of the footer up. Now we just just add a caption box to the header, enter a title, make the font bigger and colour it black
We can change the button to make it a bit more exciting by adding a picture. In the “picture” property option for the button, press the “…” option to bring up a set of inbuild pictures you can choose from and choose something appropriate. If you are using Access 2007 or later you can also show text and a picture by changing the “Picture Caption Arrangement” option to “right”.
Other little things
Finally we should change the labels to a black font to make them stand out a little and possibly change the form background to a slightly darker shade to make the white data entry boxes stand out a little.
Of course there are a lot of other little tweaks we could do, but compared to what we started with, we already have something much, much better.