Use Access Input Forms to Enter and Modify Data

Part 8: Data input forms in Access

Customers Form

Mike Chapple 

This article is one of a series on "Building an Access Database From the Ground Up." For background, see Creating Relationships, which sets up the basic scenario for the Patricks Widgets database discussed in this tutorial.

Now that we’ve created the relational model, tables, and relationships for the Patricks Widgets database, we have a fully functional database. Let's start adding the bells and whistles that make it user-friendly.

Making Data Entry Easier

Our first step is to improve the data-entry process. If you’ve been experimenting with Microsoft Access as we’ve built the database, you've probably noticed that you can add data to the tables in the datasheet view by simply clicking ​in the blank row at the bottom of the table and entering data that complies with any table constraints. This process certainly allows you to populate your database, but it’s not very intuitive or easy. Imagine asking a salesperson to go through this process every time she signed up a new client.

Fortunately, Access provides a much more user-friendly data-entry technique through the use of forms. If you recall from the Patricks Widgets scenario, one of our requirements was to create forms that allow the sales team to add, modify, and view information in the database. We’ll begin by creating a simple form that allows us to work with the Customers table. Here’s the step-by-step process:

  1. Open the Patricks Widgets database.

  2. Choose the Forms tab on the database menu.

  3. Double-click Create form by using wizard.

  4. Use the >> button to select all fields in the table.

  5. Click the Next button to continue.

  6. Choose the form layout that you’d like. Justified is a good, attractive starting point, but each layout has its pros and cons. Pick the most appropriate layout for your environment. Remember, this is just a starting point, and you may modify the actual form appearance later in the process.

  7. Click the Next button to continue.

  8. Choose a style, and click the Next button to continue.

  9. Give the form a title, and then choose the appropriate radio button to either open the form in data-entry mode or layout mode.

  10. Click the Finish button to generate your form.

Using the Form

Once you’ve created the form, you may interact with it as you wish. The layout view allows you to customize the appearance of specific fields and the form itself. The data-entry view allows you to interact with the form. Use the > and < buttons to move forward and backward through the recordset, whereas the > button automatically creates a new record at the end of the current recordset.

Now that you’ve created this first form, you're ready to create forms to enter data for the remaining tables in the database.