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Chapter 14: Creating Complex Reports

(This is section 2 of 4 in this chapter)

Understanding the Design Window

Notice that the Design window consists of a grid that is divided into three sections. Actually, the window contains three sections, each of which contains its own grid. Later in this chapter, you will learn about the different report sections.

You use the grids to specify what you want to appear in each section of the report. The idea is to design your report by placing objects on the grid, in the section where you want them to appear. Objects can be fields or things such as labels, buttons, controls, or other items. You will learn how to place objects on the grid later in this chapter. These objects have properties which tell Access how they should appear and behave.

Notice that the grids in each section are not very large. The default size for the page header and footer is .25 inches, and the detail section is only two inches high. Regardless of the section, the grid is the same width: five inches. If you want to increase the size of a grid, move the mouse pointer over one of the outside borders of a grid. Next, hold down the mouse button and drag the border to a new position. When you release the mouse button, the grid remains enlarged.

Parts of a Report

You can see from looking at the Design window that a report is divided into sections. There are five sections in any Access report:

Each of these sections is independent of the others. You can place any object in any one of these sections; it is up to you. Notice that when you first start to create a report, Access only displays three of the five sections. You can control which sections Access displays using choices under the View menu. If you choose Page Header/Footer, Access displays both the page header and footer. Likewise, if you choose Report Header/Footer, Access displays those sections. When you look at the Format menu, you may notice a check mark beside one or both of these menu items. If the check mark is present, Access is displaying the section. To turn the check mark off, select the option again. In response, Access removes the section from the screen.

Report Header and Footer

This report section defines what appears at both the beginning and end of a report. The report header information appears at the very beginning, before anything else--including the page header. It might include preface information or information about who created the report.

The report footer appears at the end of a report, after the body but before the page footer. The report footer is typically used for things like grand totals or final messages.

Page Header and Footer

Each page of your report can also have a header and footer. Headers and footers contain information that you want to appear at the top and bottom of each page. The one exception is the first page, where the page header appears after the report header information.

In the page header, you might include things like a page number or column heads. To increase the amount of space that appears after the page header, but before the report detail, increase the amount of white space on the grid after the last item in the page header. The opposite is true for the page footer--to leave space between the detail and the page footer, increase the amount of white space before the first item in the page footer.


You define the body of your report in the detail section. Within the report body, you list what you want to appear for each record Access prints in the report. You will do most of your work in the detail section.

Access also lets you create groups within the body of your reports. Basically, groups are a way of sorting your report and creating subtotals. You can specify exactly how Access should group your data, and whether Access should include additional headers and footers around a group.

Report Properties

As you know, Access uses properties to describe how an object appears or how Access is to treat it. You also know that fields possess properties and that objects in forms have properties. In addition, objects you place in your reports also have properties. The exact properties available (and there can be dozens of them) depend on the object.

Note: Many of the properties for report objects are the same as properties for other objects, such as fields. You may want to refer to Chapter 3, "Taking a Closer Look," for more information about some properties.

In general, properties describe an object's attributes. For instance, an object's height, width, and position are all properties. So are things like colors and font. Many of these properties change as you simply place and work with the object.

There are two properties that are peculiar to objects on reports: Can Grow and Can Shrink properties. When you place a Text Box object in the detail section of a report, Access assumes you want the field or value assigned to the object to be printed. Access also assumes that you want the object to take the amount of space you set aside by the size of the Text Box. The Can Grow property tells Access to treat the Text Box differently. With this property set to Yes, the vertical (up and down) size of the Text Box will grow on a record-by-record basis, if necessary. This means that Access will not truncate the value in the Text Box. This is a great feature, particularly if you are printing long strings or the contents of a Memo field.

The Can Shrink property works in the opposite manner. If there is nothing to print in the Text Box, Access will close up any vertical space it can. Setting this property to Yes is helpful in making your report look more professional--there won't be any glaring gaps in your report.

Note: If you want to discover how you can use a particular property, display the Properties dialog box, select the property, and view the information in the status bar of the Access program window. You can also use the Access online Help system to find more information about properties.

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