Microsoft Access 2010: How to Format Forms

In this tutorial, we will show you how to format your forms in Microsoft Access 2010 to get the look and design you desire.

For the purpose of this tutorial, we will be working on formatting a form that people can use to enter in a customer’s information.  As is, the form is decent and usable, but what if you want to change its look around so that it has a custom look?  What if you want to tweak its settings so that it better reflects your company or brand?  That is exactly what we are about to do.  The process is very simple and can even be a bit fun as you get creative with it.

The reasoning behind formatting a form in Microsoft Access 2010 is rather logical.  If someone is going to be using a form on a daily basis, you want to make it look as good as possible.  You also want the layout to make sense and be easy to use.  If it is easy to use, employees will have better efficiency when entering or editing data.  A good looking form that is easy on the eyes could also make work a bit more bearable and not seem as dull.

Formatting a Form in Access 2010

Now that we have the reasoning for formatting a form out of the way, it is time to jump into the actual process of doing so. 

The first formatting tweak we will perform is adding a command button to the form.  This command will allow the form’s user to search for a specific record with a simple click of the mouse.

You should be in layout view before trying to add a command button to the form.  Click on the Design tab at the top and go to the Controls group.  Click on the small drop-down arrow to the left.  You will see some options appear.  Select the Use Control Wizards option.

Next, select the button command.  Its icon is in the shape of a button and has four Xs on it.

Now you want to move your cursor into the form below.  Navigate to where you want the command button to go and left-click your mouse to place it there. 

The Command Button Wizard will appear.  This asks you to choose the action you want to occur when a user presses the button.  You will see different categories and different actions you can choose from.  Some of the categories include Record Navigation, Record Operations, Form Operations, Report Operations, Application, and Miscellaneous.  Actions available for the Record Navigation category include Find Next, Find Record, Go To First Record, Go To Last Record, and so on.

For this tutorial, let’s use the Record Navigation category and the Find Record action.  Click Next.

Now you get to choose if you want text or a picture on the button.  You can add custom text or a custom picture to the button.  We will use a picture of the standard default binoculars in our example.  Click Next.

Enter a meaningful name for the button.  We will call it Search.  Hit Finish.  The button should now appear on the form with the binoculars as the photo.
Our next step is to move and resize the fields to make the form easier to look at.  Let’s adjust the form by converting it into two columns.  First, resize the column we do have by clicking on one of the form’s cells and dragging its right-hand side over to the left to make the column smaller.

Click on the Arrange tab at the top under the Form Layout Tools.  Go to the Rows & Columns group and select Insert Right.
You can click once to add one column, or twice to add two columns.  Let’s add two.  Now you can take your form’s fields and move them into the spaces you want.  Click on a field and move it with your mouse into the desired location.  This is all dragging and dropping.  To eliminate empty spots/rows, click on them and hit your Delete key.

If you want to make a field bigger, you can merge it with empty cells in its row.  Click on the field you want to make bigger, hold down Shift, and click on the cells you want to merge it with.  Go to the Arrange tab and click on Merge to merge the cells.

Our last formatting steps will tweak the colors and font used in our Access form.  Click on the Design tab up top.  You will see options for colors, fonts, inserting images, logos, titles, etc.  You can click on the Themes option to see different available themes you can apply.  If you apply a theme to the form, however, just know that it will also be applied to the entire database.

To apply such changes to just the form, click on the Format tab.  You can adjust colors and fonts of each of the form’s elements.  To change certain fields, hold down the Ctrl key and click in the fields.  From here you can adjust the fill color, outline color, and outline weight.

You can play around with all of these options until you get just the right look for your form.


We just went over how easy it is to format a form in Microsoft Access 2010.  The options are numerous, so there is really no excuse for you to not get the look you desire.

It is a good idea when formatting forms to first attack the layout aspect.  The layout affects how user-friendly the form is.  Your fields should come in a logical order to help users fill them out efficiently.  After your layout is completed to your satisfaction, add personal touches in the form of new fonts and colors.  Adding special borders to fields can help make them stand out from others.  Lastly, you should add a logo if you have one for company branding.

Stay tuned for more Microsoft Access tutorials in the near future.

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