Customizing a Report

Most of the changes you will make to a Report or Label will use one of these five toolbars. They are all visible by default. You can selectively hide any or all of them from the View menu. In this section, we'll only discuss the most common of these tools. For a full description of all five toolbars, check out the Reports Toolbars page. It's probably not necessary to learn them all; you can look up the functionality of any button if and when you need it.

Adding a Label to a Report

At this point, you have probably managed to successfully copy a report (if not, please see Copying a Report for instructions). You can use this copy to experiment with these customizations.

Starting with the Toolbox toolbar, let's add something to this report.

The first button on the toolbar is the Select tool; it is the normal default mouse cursor. When you are done adding items from this toolbar to your report, this is where you should click to restore your mouse cursor. The second button on this toolbar (the one with the capital and lower-case 'A's) is the Label tool. With a click of this button, your mouse cursor becomes a tool for drawing labels on your report.

So let's try it out: move your mouse cursor over some unobstructed part of your report. Left click and drag the mouse until the size of the rectangle is large enough to key in your name, then release the left mouse button. Now click on some empty space anywhere on the report (or click the Select tool) to restore your mouse cursor.

Now we will use the Standard toolbar to display the property list for the label you just added to the report.

The third button from the right, the one with the hand holding a list, shows the Property List. Click it now.

Now when you open the Property List, it probably will not be this wide. To make it wider, position your cursor over the left edge of the Property List until the mouse cursor changes to a double headed arrow (pointing left and right). Then, click and drag until it is wide enough for you to see the contents clearly. While you can leave the name 'Label1,' it is good form to change the name to something more meaningful. There are plenty of examples in the reports collection.

Look down a few lines to where you see the Caption field. Click on the right-hand side of that line and replace the default value of Label1 with your name. We could make more changes, but for now let's click on the Preview tab and see that you have indeed added to the report.

If you don't see your name right away, it could be that you did what I did while I was writing this procedure: I put the label in the report footer. To view the end of the report we will use yet another toolbar:

Click the Last Page button (that right-facing arrow that is pointing to the vertical line). The meaning of this is "Go to the End of the report."  You should see your name on the report now.

Adding a Field

The toolbar you used above to add a label will also allow you to add a field. If you choose to do it that way, you then have to associate the field with data from the database. An alternate (easier) way to add fields is to use the Fields List.

Returning to the Standard toolbar that we used for the Property List, click the Fields List button, located just to the right of the one we used to show the Property List:

This button shows the Fields List:

The Fields List button is a toggle button. That is, clicking it multiple time will make the Fields List appear and disappear at your whim.

To demonstrate the use of the fields, simply click and hold on one of the fields. While holding the mouse button down, drag the field from the field list to any open area of the report. During the time you are dragging the field, it appears as a beige rectangle. After the mouse button is released, the field name shows in the rectangle on the report.

If the field has been used on the report already, a number is added to the field name to distinguish this control from the other controls using the same data. The eight squares attached to the field are sizing handles. You can click and drag on any of them to resize the control. More precise sizing, and positioning, can be done using the property list.

Making Report Changes

Single Field Changes

Most of the changes you can make can either be done using toolbar buttons or the Property List. Clicking the top of the Property List toggles the presentation from an alphabetical sorting of properties to a presentation that groups the properties by function.

Click on a report field, display the Property List and click the button at the top of the list (framed in the screenshot to the left) to have it display grouped properties. Experiment with the Appearance group of properties. I recommend that you do not change the Style property. Notice that the first property is Horizontal Alignment (left, center,right) and the last property in the Appearance group is Vertical Alignment (top, middle, bottom).

Font is in a group by itself. Click into the section where the font name is displayed. After you have clicked in there, there should be a button marked with an ellipse (...). Simply click that button to open a dialog window in which you can change the font name, size and style. In this dialog, there is an area where you can preview your font choice. Click OK to make your change or Cancel to leave things as they were.

Deleting fields from the report

To get rid a field, just click to select a field or label you do not need on your report. Then, click the Delete button (marked with an X) on the Standard toolbar. In most cases, the field or label will be removed from the report. In some cases, fields have been designated as compulsory, and may not be deleted.  In these few cases, you can "remove" the field by changing the font color to white, so the field will be effectively invisible. You may even place other controls on top of the existing control. Only he top control will be seen in the report.

Undoing mistakes

One day you may be making changes and suddenly realize that you made them to the wrong field. What to do now? If you haven't already saved your changes, you can reload the report and start over. The Load Original Layout toolbar button (appears as a yellow scroll) will reload the original copy of the report.

Multiple Field Changes

One handy time-saving command, that you can apply to multiple fields at once, is to make the fields the same size.

On the Align menu, you fill see the Size submenu. From here you have three choices: Same Width, Same Height, or Both.

Multiple fields may be selected by holding down the Shift key and clicking the fields individually. However, there is a faster way to select multiple fields if they are on the same row. Just click inside the ruler area, right next to the desired row. For example, try to locate the horizontal band labeled Detail in your current report. Click just below that point a bit to the left on the vertical ruler. You will  see that all the fields in the Detail report group have been selected.

Now you could change the alignment, font, color, etc. on all of these fields with one command.