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Microsoft Access Basics: Forms


Forms allow you to manipulate how the data from your database is presented to the user, in order to make it easier to work with.  Most commonly, they are used to provide a means of entering data that is organized more clearly than just working with the tables directly would be.  (See the example based on the Book Orders database, below.)  While there are lots of things that can be done with forms (visit Create a Form in Access  for a more comprehensive overview), we’re just going to focus on how to create forms that allow for easy data entry by presenting data from a single record from one of your tables at a time.

Access - Form Example

Simple Ways to create forms

  1. Using the form tool. 
    1. Go to the “Create” tab at top.
    2. With one of your tables (or other underlying objects) selected on the navigation pane on the left, hit the button marked “Form”
    3. Access will automatically generate a form featuring all of the fields in your table.  It will also create a subform for any sub-datasheets associated with your table.
  2. Using the Form Wizard
    1. Go to the “Create” tab at top
    2. Click on the “Form Wizard” button
    3. You will see a dialog box like the example below.  From there, you can choose which fields you want to put in your form by selecting the appropriate fields on the left column with your mouse and moving them to the right column with the ”>” button in the middle.  You can also select all of the fields at once by clicking the “>>” button.  If you have related tables or queries, you can select fields from more than one source, using the drop-down menu labeled “Tables/Queries” to go back and forth between different objects.  When done, hit “Next.”
      Access - Form Wizard
    4.  If you did select multiple tables or queries for use in your form, you will get a dialog box asking you how you want view you data (see below).  If it’s something where one table is a subset of data to the primary table, you’d want to select the primary table (Video Orders in this example.)  For most data entry instances, it probably makes sense to keep “Form with subform(s)“ checkbox checked.  Click “Next”.
      Access - Form Wizard 2
    5. The next dialog-box (see example below) will be for choosing the layout for your form.   If your form only draws on one table/query, you will have four choices:  Columnar, Tabular, Datasheet, and Justified.  If you are drawing on multiple sources, you will have just Tabular and Datasheet.  In the first instance, the default choice, Columnar, probably provides the easiest data entry interface.  In the second, Datasheet (also the default), is probably the more intuitive way to enter data using two or more tables/queries.  Click “Next.”
      Access Form Wizard 3
    6. This will bring up the last dialog box of the wizard, which will ask you to name the form.  It will be named after one of the source tables/queries by default.  You will also be given the option to open the completed form, or look at it in Design View, in case you want to make changes. 
      Access Form Wizard 4

Often what the wizard gives you will be a good starting point, but it’s useful to then go into the Design View to customize it a bit more.  You can do this right away by selecting the second option, but you can also go back to it any time by opening Design View.

Below are examples created from singles tables and multiple tables:

1. Form created from single table.

Form created from single table

2. Form created using multiple tables, with subform.

Form using multiple tables

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