Creating forms for your database can make entering data more convenient. When you create a form, you can design it in a way that works with your database and that makes sense to you.
In this lesson, you will learn how to create and modify forms. You’ll also learn how to use form options like design controls and form properties to make sure your form works exactly the way you want.
To create a form:
Access makes it easy to create a form from any table in your database. Any form you create from a table will let you view the data that’s already in that table and add new data. Once you’ve created a form, you can modify it by adding additional fields and design controls like combo boxes.
- In the Navigation pane, select the table you want to use to create a form. You do not need to open the table.
- Select the Create tab, locate the Forms group, and click the Form command.
- Your form will be created and opened in Layout view.
- To save the form, click the Save command on the Quick Access Toolbar. When prompted, type a name for the form, then click OK.
If you created a form from a table whose records are linked to another table, your form probably includes a subform. A subform is a datasheet form that displays linked records in a table-like format. For instance, the subform included in the Customersform we just created displays linked customer orders.
We probably don’t need to include this subform because we just want to use the Customers form to enter and review contact information. If you find that you don’t need a subform, you can easily delete it. To do this, simply click it and press the Delete key on your keyboard.
Adding additional fields to a form
When you use the Form command on an existing table, all of the fields from the table are included in the form. However, if you later add additional fields to the table, these fields will not automatically show up in existing forms. In situations like this, you can add additional fields to a form.
To add a field to a form:
- Select the Design tab, then locate the Tools group on the right side of the Ribbon.
- Click the Add Existing Fields command.
- The Field List pane will appear. Double-click the desired field(s).
- The field will be added.
You can also use the above procedure to add fields to a totally blank form. Simply create a form by clicking the Blank Form command on the Create tab, then follow the above steps to add the desired fields.
To add a field from a different table:
You can also add fields from different tables in your database to the form.
- From the Field List pane, click Show All Tables.
- Click the plus sign + next to the table that contains the field you want to add, then double-click the desired field. The new field will be added.
Adding design controls
Design controls set restrictions on the fields in your forms. This helps you better control how the data is entered into your forms, which in turn helps keep the database consistent.
A combo box is a drop-down list you can use in your form in place of a field. Combo boxes limit the information users can enter by forcing them to select only the optionsyou have specified.
Combo boxes are useful for fields that have a limited number of possible valid responses. For instance, you might use a combo box to make sure people only enter a valid U.S. state while entering an address, or that they only choose products that already exist in your database while placing an order.
To create a combo box:
- In Form Layout view, select the Design tab, then locate the Controls group.
- Select the Combo Box command, which looks like a drop-down list.
- Select the desired location for the combo box. A line will appear to indicate the location where your combo box will be created. In our example, we’ll place it between the City field and the Add to Mailing List? fields.
- The Combo Box Wizard dialog box will appear. Select I will type in the values that I want, then click Next.
- Type the choices you want to appear in your drop-down list. Each choice should be on its own row. In our example, we are creating a combo box for the Add to Mailing List? field in our form, so we will enter all of the possible valid responses for this field. Users will be able to select one of three choices from our finished combo box: No, Yes – Weekly, and Yes – Special Events and Offers.
- If necessary, resize the column so all of your text is visible. Once you are satisfied with your list, click Next.
- Select Store that value in this field, then click the drop-down arrow andselect the field where you want selections from your combo box to be recorded. After making your selection, click Next.
- Enter the label—or name—that will appear next to your combo box. Generally, it’s a good idea to use the name of the field you chose in the previous step.
- Click Finish. Your combo box will appear on the form. If you created your combo box to replace an existing field, you should delete the first field. In our example, you might notice that we now have two fields with the same name. These two fields send information to the same place, so we don’t need them both. We’ll delete the one without the combo box.
- Switch to Form view to test your combo box. Simply click the drop-down arrow and verify that the list contains the correct choices. The combo box can now be used to enter data.
If you want to include a drop-down list with a long list of options and don’t want to type all of them out, create a combo box and choose the first option in the Combo Box Wizard: I want to get the values from another table or query. This will allow you to create a drop-down list from a table field.
Some users report that Access malfunctions while working with forms. If you have a problem performing any of these tasks in Layout view, try switching to Design view.
Customizing form settings with the Property Sheet
The Property Sheet is a pane containing detailed information on your form and each of its components. From the Property Sheet, you can make changes to every part of your form, both in terms of function and appearance.
The best way to familiarize yourself with the Property Sheet is to open it and select various options. When you select an option, Access will display a brief description of the option on the bottom-left border of the program window.