Access Basics:
About Printing

Title: Jan's Illustrated Computer Literacy 101
Did you want: Working with Databases: Access 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016

Printing objects like datasheets, forms, reports, and data access pages can be frustrating if you are not aware of the limitations of your printer, the limitations of your computer, and each object's printing characteristics.

Know Your Printer!

PrinterPrinters vary a lot in what they can do and how fast they can do it. All have limits.

Capacity: Printers designed for home/light use may have mechanical problems when asked to print large numbers of pages.

Speed: Some printers are much faster than others. The more pages you are printing at once, the more important speed issues become.

  • Color printing is always slower than printing with just black ink.

  • Landscape orientation is noticeably slower than portrait orientation for most printers.

Color: Don't expect to see your pretty colors if the printer only has black ink or toner! Test to be sure that the different colors on the screen will print as different shades of gray. Otherwise, parts of your document may be invisible, having blended into the background or into each other.

Where you are:
JegsWorks > Lessons > Databases

Before you start...

Project 1: Intro

Project 2: Access Basics Arrow: subtopic open
    InterfaceTo subtopics
    Getting StartedTo subtopics  
    Access Objects Arrow: subtopic open
    Icon: StepTable: Design View
    Icon: StepTable: Datasheet View
    Icon: StepManage a Table
    Icon: StepSort & Filter a Table
    Icon: StepQuery Wizard
    Icon: StepAutoForm
    Icon: StepAutoReport
    Icon: StepData Access Page
        About Printing
    Icon: StepPrint Objects
    RelationshipsTo subtopics
    ExercisesTo subtopics

Project 3: Tables & Queries

Project 4: Forms & Reports


Know Your Computer!

Access databases can get quite large. The more records there are and the larger each record is, the more computing capacity you need for Access to be able to print large numbers of records.

  • Memory Capacity: Formatting a large number of records for print, especially when there are photos in each record, can overwhelm a computer's memory capacity. You may have to break down your print job into smaller batches.

  • Print Spooling: Spooling allows your computer to do other things while the data is fed to the printer. WindowsXP does not support print spooling for the parallel port. Your printer should be connected to a WinXP computer with a USB cable.

    Parallel cable   USB cable

    Parallel cable; USB cable

What You Get When You Print

Print Button Button: Print (2003): Automatically prints all pages/records with default settings.

Print Dialog:  File  |  Print... Offers choices for what to print: All, Selected pages or Selected records.  The selection must be adjacent pages/records. No skipping around!

Print Preview: DatasheetPrinting Datasheets: Not pretty
Datasheets are often too wide to get a record onto a single sheet of paper, even in landscape orientation.

You have very little control over how a datasheet prints. You can size the column widths and row heights in the datasheet. You can choose portrait or landscape orientation for the paper. That's it. You cannot make changes to the page header and footer.

The choices you made for printing a datasheet are NOT remembered. You must make your changes every time you print the datasheet.

Illustration: In this print-out the records are two pages wide. The memo and text fields are too narrow to show all of the text. You would have to tape the pages together to match up all of the fields for a record.

Print Preview: FormPrinting Forms: Be careful
Forms designed for the screen often have colored backgrounds that you really don't want to print. Wastes ink and is harder to read in print! 

Forms normally print with as many records on a page as will fit. A record may be split between pages. If a form is too wide for the paper, the remainder prints on another page.

TipIt is often useful to create a separate, similar form for printing, or to print from a report instead.

Illustration: Printing included the background color. Form does not fit neatly onto the paper. A second page prints with what would not fit.

Print Preview: ReportPrinting Reports: It's what they are for!
Reports offer you more control over the layout, page headers and footers, how many records on a page, and other such issues. If you use a query as the source for the report, you can sort and filter in complex ways to get just the records that you want to print.

A report can be designed to look like a datasheet or a form.

Using a report is the only way to print calculations like totals and averages for the whole report along with the records.

Illustration: Shows the print-out of the first page of an AutoReport.

Print Preview: Data Access PagePrinting Data Access Pages: One at a time
These are web pages and are not really intended to be printed. Only one record will print at a time! You normally would print a data access page from the browser instead of from Access. Most browsers are set by default to not print a page's background. The page header and footer are controlled by the browser, not by Access.

Illustration: Only one record will print. Each record is on a separate web page so the browser's Print command will only print the page that is displayed at the moment.


Common Printing Issues

Icon: TroubleProblem: Blank or nearly blank pages

Print Preview: Form - one record on 2 pagesCause: A form, report, or data access page may be sized nicely for the screen and yet be wider than the printable area of the paper. This forces another page in order to print the leftover part. Such a page may be blank or show just part of a control or section.

In the example there is a narrow band of the background color on a page that is otherwise blank. If the background color had been white, it would have looked like a random blank page. So confusing!


  1. Decrease the page margins so that there is more space for printing. (File | Page Setup...)

  2. Decrease the width of all of the sections (Detail, Page Header and Footer, Form Header and Footer, Report Header and Footer) in Design View by dragging the right edge to the left.
    If a section will not shrink, you need to rearrange or resize the controls and divider lines so that they fit inside the new width that you want. Then you can try again. (The lines can be especially hard to spot in Design View! You may need to temporarily enlarge a section vertically to see the lines at the bottom edge of the section.)

Icon: TroubleProblem: Data is cut off

Examples of data being cut offCause: A datasheet cell or a control on a form, report, or data access page is too small to show all of the data.

A memo type of field can easily have more text than shows in a control. On a form or data access page you can scroll to see the hidden portion. When printed, however, the hidden part stays hidden unless you make some smart choices.

Solutions for a datasheet:

  1. Increase the column width and/or increase the row height.
  2. If there are long memo fields, print from a form or report instead.

Solutions for a form, report, or data access page:

  1. In Design View, resize the controls that are too small.
  2. In a form or report for a memo control: Set the Can Grow property to Yes.
  3. For a data access page with a problem memo field, use a report instead.

Icon: TroubleProblem: How to print certain records or certain pages instead of all

Difficulty: Clicking the Print button Button: Print (2003) prints all pages/all records. 


  1. Dialog: PrintPages:
    In the Print dialog enter the page numbers for the sequence of pages you want to print. Use Print Preview to find the numbers of the pages that you want.
    To print just one page use its page number in both text boxes, like Pages From: 3 To: 3
  2. Records from datasheet or form:
    Select the record or sequence of records first. Open the Print dialog and choose to print Selected Record(s).
    (You cannot select non-adjacent records. They must be in a sequence.)
  3. Records from datasheet, form, or data access page:
    Sort or apply a filter first and then print all or select records and then print.
  4. Records from a form, report, or data access page:
    Change the source to a query that picks out the records you want to print.

Remember, a data access page shows only one record at a time and therefore can print only one record at a time.

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Last updated: 30 Apr 2012