Forms & Reports:
Printable Form

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

What works well on the screen may not fit onto paper for printing.

Most forms are not designed for printing. You should be aware of how they will print anyway! You never know when someone might want to print.

Small problems with print layout can often be fixed in the Page Setup dialog by changing the margins or switching to Landscape orientation. Unlike with a table or query, your Page Setup choices are saved with the form. You only have to get that part right once!

Bigger problems may require you to rearrange the controls on the form itself or to make changes to properties.

Common issues with printing forms:

  • Form Width/Height:
    A record runs over onto a second sheet with little or no data on it.
      Solution: Adjust margins or resize controls and form to fit on paper. The default margins are 1" on all sides.
  • Background for Form and Controls:
    Uses too much ink and makes the form slow to print
      Solution: Don't use a background or create a form without backgrounds just for printing.
  • Black and white printing:
    Hard to read in black-and-white
      Solution: Don't use colors for text or background in controls or labels without checking how it prints on a black-only printer.
  • Data hidden:
    If a control does not show all of the data on the screen, it won't print either unless you make a change.
      Solution: Set the Can Grow property for the control and for the Detail section to Yes.
  • Page and Form Headers and Footers:
    Confusion over which prints where.

Where you are:
JegsWorks > Lessons > Databases

Before you start...

Project 1: Intro

Project 2: Access Basics

Project 3: Tables & Queries

Project 4: Forms & Reports Arrow: subtopic open
    Import/Export/LinkTo subtopics
    Designing Forms Arrow: subtopic open
    Icon: StepForm Wizard
    Icon: StepControls
    Icon: StepCreate Form Manually
    Icon: StepFormat Form
    Icon: StepTab Control
    Icon: StepForm View
        Images in Forms & Reports
    Icon: StepForm Images
    Icon: StepRecord Images
    Icon: StepPrintable Form
    Designing ReportsTo subtopics
    Special Forms & ReportsTo subtopics
    ExercisesTo subtopics


Page Header/Footer vs. Form Header/Footer in Printing

It is rather confusing how headers and footers print with a form. It depends on which ones they are! You might expect to see the page header and footer within the top and bottom margins, like they are in Word and Excel. Not so!

In the example below, the page header contains the current date, at the right. The page footer contains the page number and the total number of pages, like "Page 3 of 5". The form header contains the title of the form, "Day Camp Campers & Staff". The form footer contains the year (just so there would be something there for this example).

Form Print Preview: page 1 showing form header, page header, page footer Form Print Preview: last page, showing page header, form footer, page footer

First and last pages of printed form records

Margins set in Page Setup will not have anything printed in them at all.

The form header prints on the first page only above everything else.

The form footer prints on the last page only, below the last record, but not necessarily at the bottom of the page.

The page header will print on each page above the record(s). On the first page it is below the form header.

The page footer prints on each page at the bottom of the page.

Unexpectedly, you cannot configure a page header or footer for a printed form from the Page Setup Dialog. You must be in the Form Design View. From the View menu, you can show a Page Header/Footer. Then you can add controls to it, just like for the Details section.

Icon: Step-by-Step 

Step-by-Step: Printable Form

 Icon: Step-by-Step

What you will learn:

to use Print Preview and Page Setup
to use the Properties dialog
to find Help about properties

Start with:  Class diskresource files, worldtravel.mdb from the previous lesson

You are going to create a form just for printing. We will take the easy way and make it very similar to the onscreen version.

Print Preview and Page Setup

  1. Open the form Clients.
  2. Click on the Print Preview button Button: Print Preview (2003).
    The preview looks pretty good on page 1. But... the controls in the third column are cutoff just a little bit, which creates a weird looking second page.

    Print Preview

    Pages 1 and 2 of 16 in Print Preview

  3. Button: SetupOn the toolbar, click the Setup button.
    The Page Setup dialog appears.
  4. Dialog: Page SetupChange the left and right margins to 0.75".
  5. Print Preview: Clients - corrected marginsClick on Close, to close the dialog.
    You are back in Print Preview. This is better! Now there are only 8 pages and there are none of those pages with just little bits of a form.
  6. Navigate through each page in the print preview.
    The Form Header shows up only on the first page.
  7. Close Print Preview.
  8. Icon: Save Save the form as Clients-print.

Managing Backgrounds

The backgrounds are going to take a lot of ink and a lot of time to print. This is the kind of situation that make it useful to create a form especially for printing.

A form that is suitable for printing does not have a background picture. None of the sections should have a background color. The controls should not have a colored background either. The controls should not have a special effect.

All of these features can be managed from the Properties dialog.

  1. Switch to Form Design View.

  2. Dialog: Properties - ClientID with drop list opened to FormIf necessary, open the the Properties dialog.
    The dialog shows the properties for whatever is selected. In this case it is probably the ClientID control because you were changing its properties earlier in this lesson.

  3. Open the drop list at the top of the dialog.
    It lists every control and every section of the form.

  4. Scroll the list and see just how many choices there are.

  5. Dialog: Properties - PictureClick on Form in the list.
    The Properties dialog now shows the properties available for the Form as a whole.

  6. Scroll the list and see what you can change about the form.
    The Picture property shows (bitmap). This is a reference to the image that the AutoFormat placed as the form's background. Note the other Picture properties.

  7. Message: Do you want to remove this picture from the form?Delete the text (bitmap) for the Picture property.
    You may or may not get a message that asks if you really want to remove the picture. If you do, click on Yes.
    Form design View: Clients-print, gray background
    The image background vanishes. There was apparently a background color also. Back to the Properties dialog! The background color must be changed for each section.

  8. Click on the selection bar for the Form Header section.

    Dialog: PropertiesThe Properties dialog changes to show properties for this section.

  9. Scroll the properties to find the property Back Color.
    The value -214783633 is for the gray background.

  10. Dialog: Properties: Back Color with ellipsis button showingClick in the value for Back Color.
    The 3 dots button Button: Three dots appears, which tells you that there is a dialog available.

  11. Dialog: ColorClick the 3 dots button Button: Three dots.
    The color dialog appears.

  12. Click on the White rectangle and then on OK.
    The Color dialog closes, but nothing else changes yet.

    TipYou can use colors that are not in the grid by clicking the Define Custom Colors button.

  13. Click on another property in the list.
    TipOnly after leaving the property does Access accept your change.
    Form Design View: Clients-print, header section with white background.
    The background color of the section changes to white. The Properties dialog shows a new number for Back Color, 16777215.
    Where do they get these weird numbers??

  14. Print Preview: Clients-header form with white backgroundRepeat for the Detail section and the Form Footer section.

  15. Switch to Print Preview.
    Hmmm. This will print a lot faster and will use a lot less ink, but those gray boxes will slow things down, too.

  16. Switch back to Form Design View.

  17. Dialog: Properties: Back Color blank when multiple objects selectedSelect all of the controls.
    The Properties dialog changes to "Multiple Selection".
    The properties will be blank except where all controls have the same value for the property.

  18. Help: Open Help articles about Back Color, Special Effect, and Border Style and read them.

  19. Form Design View: Clients - white background for contols. Rectangle hides phone numbers.Change  the Back Color property to White.

  20. Change the Special Effect property to Flat.

  21. Change the Border Style to Transparent.
     Whoops. Look at the phone number controls. They are hidden! Changing the Back Color for the rectangle made the rectangle into a solid box, hiding all the controls under it!

  22. Click on an empty area of the form to deselect the controls.

  23. Click on the rectangle to select it.

  24. Form Design view: add solid rectangleFrom the menu select  Format | Send to Back .
    The rectangle moves underneath the phone numbers.

  25. In the Properties dialog for the rectangle, change the border style to Solid.
    All is well again.
    The color of the rectangle was chosen originally to match the shadow color. There aren't any shadows in this revised form so this color looks a bit out of place.

  26. Change the Border Color property to match the labels, the dark blue that is 16777215.

  27. Print Preview: Clients-printSwitch to Print Preview.
    Much better for printing!

  28. Icon: Save Save the form. (Clients-print)

Can Grow Property

In a printed form you want to be SURE that all of the data actually prints. If the control is not large enough, your data is just cut off UNLESS you take advantage of the Can Grow property.

Thinking: Which controls on this form cut data off now? Which are most likely to cutoff the data in the future?
Answer: The memo type controls HealthIssues and Notes, plus Address, Title (which is already two characters too short in record #2), and Email Address.

  1. Switch to Form Design View.

  2. Hold the SHIFT key down and click on the controls Address, Title, HealthIssues, Notes, and EmailAddress to select them.
    The Properties dialog changes to Multiple Selection.

    Form Design View: Clients-print form with multiple selections, changing Can Grow value

  3. Click on the Format tab and then in the box for Can Grow.

  4. Change the value to Yes.

  5. Click out to apply your changes.

  6. Form View: title not fully showingSwitch to Form View and look at the second record.
    The control is not quite wide enough for the full title to show.
  7. Print Preview: title control grew to fitSwitch to Print Preview and look at the second record.
    The control grew to hold all of the data. Super!
    TipZoom: You can enlarge the view with the Zoom button or the Zoom drop list.
  8. While in Print Preview, view all of the pages.
    Do all pages look right?
    When you allow controls to grow as needed, the form may have to enlarge to hold the new sizes. That can be an unpleasant surprise at times!
  9. Icon: Save Save the form. (Clients-print)
  10. Icon: Print Print the first page and the last page.