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Chapter 4. Simplifying Data Entry with Forms

4. Simplifying Data Entry with Forms

Chapter 4 at a Glance

In this chapter you will learn how to:

Create a form by using a wizard.

Refine form properties.

Refine form layout.

Add controls to a form.

Use Visual Basic for Applications to enter data in a form.

Create a form by using an AutoForm.

Add a subform to a form.

A database that contains the day-to-day records of an active company is useful only if it can be kept up to date and if particular items of information can be found quickly. Although Microsoft Office Access 2003 is fairly easy to use, entering, editing, and retrieving information in Datasheet view is not a task you would want to assign to someone who’s not familiar with Access. Not only would these tasks be tedious and inefficient, but working in Datasheet view leaves far too much room for error, especially if details of complex transactions have to be entered into several related tables. The solution to this problem, and the first step in the conversion of this database to a database application, is to create and use forms.

A form is an organized and formatted view of some or all of the fields from one or more tables or queries. Forms work interactively with the tables in a database. You use controls in the form to enter new information, to edit or remove existing information, or to locate information. Like printed forms, Access forms can include label controls that tell users what type of information they are expected to enter, as well as text box controls in which they can enter the information. Unlike printed forms, Access forms can also include a variety of other controls, such as option buttons and command buttons that transform Access forms into something very much like a Microsoft Windows dialog box or one page of a wizard.


Some forms are used to navigate among the features and functions of a database application and have little or no connection with its actual data. A switchboard is an example of this type of form.

As with other Access objects, you can create forms by hand or with the help of a wizard. Navigational and housekeeping forms, such as switchboards, are best created by hand in Design view. Forms that are based on tables, on the other hand, should always be created with a wizard and then refined by hand—not because it is difficult to drag the necessary text box controls onto a form, but because there is simply no point in doing it by hand.

In this chapter, you will create some forms to hide the complexity of the GardenCo database from the people who will be entering and working with its information. First you will discover how easy it is to let the Form Wizard create forms that you can then modify to suit your needs. You’ll learn about the controls you can place in a form, and the properties that control its function and appearance. After you have created a form containing controls, you will learn how to tell Access what to do when a user performs some action in a control, such as clicking or entering text. You will also take a quick look at subforms (forms within a form).

See Also

Do you need only a quick refresher on the topics in this chapter? See the Quick Reference entries on pages xxxiii–xxv.


Before you can use the practice files in this chapter, you need to install them from the book’s companion CD to their default location. See “Using the Book’s CD-ROM” on page xiii for more information.

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