Useful Strategies for Creating Microsoft Access Forms in Design View

Posted by: Avantix Learning Team | Updated October 14, 2022

Applies to: Microsoft® Access® 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, 2021 and 365 (Windows)

You'll save a lot of time in Microsoft Access if you can select, move and format controls quickly and easily. Check out the following tips to save time when you're designing forms in Access in Design View.

Recommended article: 10 Timesaving Shortcuts in Microsoft Access

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Use themes for formatting

Instead of selecting controls and formatting by manually changing fonts and colors, consider using themes instead. Themes consist of fonts and colors and are applied to the entire form. You can achieve a consistent look across you database if you use themes for both forms and reports.

To apply a theme:

  1. In Design View, click the Design tab on the Ribbon.
  2. Click Themes. A menu appears.
  3. Select a theme (overall theme). You can also select Colors and select a color theme or Fonts and select a font theme.

Choosing a theme in Microsoft Access using Themes button.

Remove controls from control layouts

Microsoft introduced control layouts in Access 2007. A control layout acts as a container. Objects in a control layout can only be moved within a control layout which can be frustrating for some Access users.

Below are controls in a control layout. Notice the icon on the top left.

Sample of a control layout in Microsoft Access.

To remove all controls from a control layout:

  1. In Design View, click a control in a control layout. An icon should appear on the top left of the control layout.
  2. Right-click a control in the control layout. A menu appears.
  3. Choose Layout and then Remove Layout.

Move controls separately

When you create a form, controls are usually placed on a form in pairs. For example, a text box has an associated label that is attached to it. If you move the text box, typically the label moves with it. To move a control without its associated control in Design View, drag either control by the top left handle. If this doesn't work, the control is in a control layout.

Separate controls

If you want to separate 2 controls such as a label and associated text box:

  1. In Design View, click the label (which is typically the control on the left).
  2. Press Ctrl + X to cut it.
  3. Click in an empty area on the form.
  4. Press Ctrl + V to paste.

Select all

You can select all controls on a form, by pressing Ctrl + A. If this doesn't work, make sure the Pointer or Selection tool is selected on the Design tab in the Ribbon.

Select by Shift-clicking

You can select specific controls by Shift-clicking on each control. If this doesn't work, make sure the Pointer or Selection tool is selected on the Design tab in the Ribbon.

Select by dragging

Ensure the Pointer or Selection tool is selected on the Design tab in the Ribbon. Drag around the controls you wish to select.

Nudge controls

You can nudge a control or control layout in Design View. Select the control or control layout and press Ctrl + arrow keys.

Add a control for an existing field

You can add a control for an existing field in the source:

  1. In Design View, click Add Existing fields in the Design tab on the Ribbon. A list of fields in the source appear.
  2. Drag the field onto the form.

Deal with the Name error

In Form View, if #Name? appears for a control (not all controls), the most common issue is that a bound control such as a text box is not bound to an existing field. This often happens when a user types in a text box.

To attach or bind a field to a control:

  1. In Design View, click the control that displays the #Name? error n Form View.
  2. Display the Properties if necessary. You can right-click the control and choose Properties from the menu or press F4 to display properties.
  3. In the Properties, click the Data tab.
  4. From the Control Source drop-down menu, choose an existing field.

Microsoft Access properties for control source.

You can use these 10 strategies when you're designing reports in Access as well.

This article was first published on February 7, 2016 and has been updated for clarity and content.

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More resources

How to Filter a Report on the Fly in Microsoft Access

10 Tips for Creating Select Queries in Microsoft Access

How to Convert a Microsoft Access Report to PDF (3 Ways)

How to Create a Calculated Field in a Microsoft Access Query

How to Highlight Records or Values in a Microsoft Access Report Using Conditional Formatting

Related courses

Microsoft Access: Introduction

Microsoft Access: Designing and Automating Forms >

Microsoft Access: Designing Queries and Reports >

Microsoft Access: Introduction to VBA (Visual Basic for Applications)


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10 Techniques for Creating Forms in Microsoft Access
Article Name
10 Techniques for Creating Forms in Microsoft Access
Check out these 10 techniques when you're designing forms in Microsoft Access. We use these strategies to save time and design consistent forms.
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Avantix Learning

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