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Microsoft Access Reports Tutorial

Part 1: Getting Started

In our previous tutorials, you’ve learned a good deal about Microsoft Access.
Together, we created a query, modified the query to make it more complex, and
created a data entry form. We've learned the skills necessary to put information into
a database and selectively remove the exact information we're seeking. In this
tutorial, we're going to go a step further and learn how to create professionally
formatted reports automatically from our database information. Returning to our
familiar Northwind Company, we're going to design a nicely-formatted listing of
employee home telephone numbers for the use of management.

The sample images in this tutorial were created using Access 2000. If you are
running an earlier version of Access, your screen images may appear slightly
different. However, the same general principles still apply and you should be able to
follow along. If you need a quick-start on the basics of Access before getting
started, take a look at the article "Microsoft Access Fundamentals."

Once again, we're going to use the Northwind sample database. Before we get
started, open up Microsoft Access and then open the Northwind database. If you
need help with this step, please read the article "How to Install the Northwind
Sample Database."

1. Choose the Reports menu. Once you've opened Northwind, you'll be presented
with the main database menu shown below. Go ahead and click on the "Reports"
selection and you'll see a list of the various reports Microsoft included in the sample
database. If you'd like, feel free to double-click on a few of these and get a feel for
what reports look like and the various types of information that they contain.

2. Create a new report. After you've satisfied your curiosity, go ahead and click on
the "New" button and we'll begin the process of creating a report from scratch.

Create a new report

3. Select the Report Wizard. The next screen that appears will ask you to select
the method you wish to use to create the report. We're going to use the Report
Wizard which will walk us through the creation process step-by-step. After you've
mastered the wizard, you might want to return to this step and explore the flexibility
provided by the other creation methods.

4. Choose a table or query. Before leaving this screen, we want to choose the
source of data for our report. If you want to retrieve information from a single table,
you can select it from the drop-down box below. Alternatively, for more complex
reports, we can choose to base our report on the output of a query that we
previously designed. For our example, all of the data we need is contained within
the Employees table, so choose this table and click on OK.

Part 2: Selecting the Data

5. Select the fields to include. Use the ‘>’ button to move over the desired
fields. Note that the order you place the fields in the right column determines the
default order they will appear in your report. Remember that we're creating an
employee telephone directory for our senior management. Let's keep the
information contained in it simple -- the first and last name of each employee, their
title and their home telephone number. Go ahead and select these fields. When you
are satisfied, click the Next button.

6. Select the grouping levels. At this stage, you can select one or more grouping
levels to refine the order in which our report data is presented. For example, we
may wish to break down our telephone directory by department so that all of the
members of each department are listed separately. However, due to the small
number of employees in our database, this is not necessary for our report. Go ahead
and simply click on the Next button to bypass this step. You may wish to return here
later and experiment with grouping levels.

Select the fields to include

Choose the grouping levels

7. Choose your sorting options. In order to make reports useful, we often want
to sort our results by one or more attributes. In the case of our telephone directory,
the logical choice is to sort by the last name of each employee. Select this attribute
from the first drop-down box and then click the Next button to continue.
Choose the sorting options

In the next section, we'll put the finishing touches on our report. Read on for more!

Next page > Finishing Touches > Page 1, 2, 3

Select a creation method

Next, we'll select exactly which table data to include in the report and learn how to
apply formatting to our finished product. Read on!

Next page > Selecting the Data > Page 1, 2, 3

Related Articles

• Microsoft Access Fundamentals

• Reporting
• Create a Microsoft Access Database Using a Template
• How To Install the Northwind Sample Database in Microsoft Access
• Creating a Simple Query in Microsoft Access

Part 3: Finishing Touches

8. Choose the formatting options. In the next screen, we’re presented with
some formatting options. We’ll accept the default tabular layout but let’s change the
page orientation to landscape to ensure the data fits properly on the page. Once
you’ve completed this, click the Next button to continue.

9. Select a report style. The next screen asks you to select a style for your
report. Click on the various options and you’ll see a preview of your report in that
style in the left portion of the screen. We’ll use the Corporate style for this report.
Select this option and then click the Next button to move on.

Chose Formatting Options

Select a Report Style

10. Add the title. Finally, we need to give the report a title. Access will
automatically provide a nicely formatted title at the top of the screen, with the
appearance shown in the report style you selected during the previous step. Let’s
call our report “Employee Home Phone List.” Make sure that the “Preview the
report” option is selected and click on Finish to see our report!
Adding a Title

Our Finished Product

Congratulations, you've successfully created a report in Microsoft Access! The final

report you see should appear similar to the one presented above. When you close
this report, you'll once again see the main database menu illustrated below. Notice
that your report now appears in the list (I've added a red box to the figure below for
your viewing convenience, this won't appear on your screen.) In the future, you can
simply double-click on the report title and a new report will instantly be generated
with up-to-date information from your database.

Updated Reports Menu

I hope you've enjoyed following along with this tutorial. Be sure to experiment on
your own with the various report options and you'll be an expert in no time!

Create a Microsoft Access Database Using a Template

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Choose a Template

Begin Working With Your Database

Microsoft provides quite a few prebuilt database templates to assist you in jumpstarting
your database development process. In this tutorial, we'll walk through the process of
creating an Access database using these templates.

Open Microsoft Access to the Getting Started Screen

Once you've selected a template, open Microsoft Access. If you already have Access
open, close and restart the program so you're viewing the Getting Started screen, as
shown in the image above. This will be our starting point for creating our database.
Select the Template Source

Select a Template Source

Next, choose the source of your template from the left pane, as shown in the image
above. If you wish to use a template on your local system, click "Local Templates".
Otherwise, you can select one of the Office Online template categories to browse
templates available on the web.

Click the Template You Selected

Select a Template

After you select a template source, the right window pane will display all of the templates
available from that source, as shown in the image above. Click once on the template
you'd like to use to begin the database creation process.
Choose a Database Name

Provide Template Information

After you select a database template, a new pane will appear in the right portion of the
screen, as shown in the image above. You must now name your Access database. You
may either use the name suggested by Access or type in your own name. If you'd like to
change the database location from the default, click the file folder icon to navigate
through the directory structure.

Once you're satisfied with your selections, click the Create button to create your database

Begin Working With Your Database

Begin Working With Your Database

That's all there is to it! After a brief delay, Access will open your new database, as shown
in the image above. You can either begin entering data immediately by typing in the first
open cell or you can explore the features of the template using the navigation pane on the
left side of the screen.
See More About:

• access tutorials
• database tutorials
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• web databases
• dynamic web applications

Dynamic web Applications

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Open the database

Open the Database

In our last tutorial, we walked through the process of creating a static web page from data
stored in an Access database. That simple method of publishing web pages was adequate
for environments where we want a "snapshot" of a database such as a monthly report or
where the data rarely changes. However, in many database environments the data
changes frequently and we need to offer web users up-to-date information at the click of
a mouse. We can meet these requirements by utilizing Microsoft's Active Server Pages
(ASP) technology to create a dynamic server-generated HTML page that links to our
database. When a user requests information from an ASP page, the web server reads the
instructions contained within the ASP, accesses the underlying database accordingly, and
then creates an HTML page that contains the requested information and returns that to the
user. One of the limitations of dynamic web pages is that they can not be used to
distribute reports like we did in our static web page tutorial. They can only be used to
display tables, queries and forms. In this example, let's create an up-to-the-minute
product catalog for our web users. For the purposes of our example, we'll once again be
using the Northwind sample database and Microsoft Access 2000. If you haven't used
this sample database in the past, there are simple installation instructions located on this
site. Select it from the menu shown below and click OK to continue.
Open the item you wish to publish

Open the item you wish to publish

When you see the database main menu, select the Tables submenu. Double-click the
Products entry in the table (as shown in the figure below).

Begin the export process

Pull down the File menu and choose the Export option.

Create a Filename

At this point you need to provide a name for your file. We'll call ours Products. Also, you
should use the file browser to locate the path to publish your file. This will depend upon
your web server. The default path for IIS is \Inetpub\wwwroot. Once you've completed
this step click the Save All button.

The Microsoft ASP Output Options dialog box allows you to specify the details of your
ASPs. First, you can choose a template to provide formatting. Some sample templates are
stored in the directory \Program Files\Microsoft Office\Templates\1033\. We'll use the
"Simple Layout.htm" in this example.

The next entry is the Data Source Name. It's important to remember the value you enter
here -- it defines the connection used by the server to access the database. You can use
any name here; we'll set up the connection in a few minutes. Let's call our Data Source

The final section of our dialog box allows us to specify the URL and timeout values for
the ASP. The URL is the method by which our ASP will be accessed over the Internet.
You should enter a value here that corresponds to the file name and path you selected in
step 5. If you placed the file in the wwwroot directory, the URL value is
"", where yourhost is the name of your machine (i.e. or The timeout value allows you to specify how
long a connection will be left open for an idle user. Five minutes is a good starting point.
Save the file
Click the OK button and your ASP file will be saved to the path you specified. If you try
to access the page now, you'll receive an ODBC error message. This is because we have
yet to define the data source and the web server can not find the database. Read on and
we'll get the page up and running!

Open the ODBC Data Source Control Panel

The process to do this differs slightly based upon your operating system. For all operating
systems, click on Start, Settings and then Control Panel. If you're using Windows 95 or
98, double click the ODBC (32-bit) icon. In Windows NT, choose the ODBC icon. If
you're using Windows 2000, double-click Administrative Tools and then double-click the
Data Sources (ODBC) icon.

Add a new Data Source

First, click on the System DSN tab at the top of the control panel dialog box. Next, click
on the "Add" button to begin the process of configuring a new Data Source.

Choose the Driver

Select the Microsoft Access driver appropriate for your language and then click the
Finish button to continue.

Configure the Data Source

In the resulting dialog box, enter the Data Source Name. It is imperative that you enter it
exactly as you did in Step 6 or the link may not function properly. You may also enter a
description of the Data Source here for future reference.

Select the Database

Finished Product

Click on the "Select" button and then use the file navigation window to browse to the
database file you wish to access. If you set it up with the default installation, the path
should be Program Files\Microsoft
Creating Forms in Microsoft Access

Open your database

Microsoft Access forms provide a quick and easy way to modify and insert records into
your databases. They offer an intuitive, graphical environment easily navigated by
anyone familiar with standard computer techniques. Creating a form is a quite simple,
pleasant experience. In this example, as with all of our Access tutorials, we will use
Access 2003 and the Northwind sample database included on the installation CD-ROM.
If you're using an earlier version of Access, you may find that some of the menu choices
and wizard screens are slightly different. However, the same basic principles apply to all
versions of Access (as well as most database systems). Let's begin! Our goal for this
tutorial is to create a simple form that will allow data entry operators in our company to
easily add new customers to our sales database. If you haven't already installed the
Northwind sample database, these instructions will assist you. Otherwise, go to the Help
menu, then choose Sample Databases and Northwind Sample Databases.

Click on the Forms tab under Objects

This will bring up a list of the form objects currently stored in your database. Notice that
there are a large number of pre-defined forms in this sample database. After you
complete this tutorial, you might want to return to this screen and explore some of the
more advanced features included in these forms.

Click on the New icon to create a new form

Click on the New icon to create a new form

Select the creation method you wish to use

Next, we're presented with a variety of different methods we can use to create a form.
The AutoForm options quickly create a form based upon a table or query. Design View
allows for the creation and formatting of elaborate forms using Access' form editing
interface. The Chart Wizard and PivotTable Wizard create forms revolving around those
two Microsoft formats. In this tutorial, we'll use the Form Wizard to walk through the
process step-by-step.

Select the data source and click OK.

You can choose from any of the queries and tables in your database. If you recall our
scenario, we wish to create a form to facilitate the addition of customers to our database.
In order to accomplish this, we're going to select the Customers table from the pull-down
Select the form fields to be used and click Next.
Next, you'll be presented with the screen below. Use this form to select the table/query
fields you wish to appear on your form. To add fields one at a time, either double-click
the field name or single-click the field name and single click the ">" button. To add all
the fields at once, simply click the ">>" button. The "<" and "<<" buttons work in a
similar manner to remove fields from the form. For our example, we will add all of the
table's fields to the form.

Select the form layout and click Next

You can choose from either a columnar, tabular, datasheet or justified form layout. We'll
use the justified layout to produce an organized form with a clean layout. You may wish
to come back to this step later and explore the various layouts available.

Select the form style and click Next.

Microsoft Access includes a number of built-in styles to give your forms an attractive
appearance. Click on each of the style names to see a preview of your form and choose
the one you find most appealing.

Provide a title for your form

Select something easily recognizable -- this is how your form will appear in the database
menu. Let's call our form "Customers" in this case. Select the next action and click
Finish. You may open the form as a user will see it and begin viewing, modifying and/or
entering new data. Alternatively, you may open the form in design view to make
modifications to the form's appearance and properties. Let's do the latter and explore
some of the options available to us.

Edit Properties
Click the Properties icon. This will bring up a menu of user-definable attributes that
apply to our form. Edit the properties as necessary. Recall that our original goal was to
create a form for data entry purposes. Most likely, we don't want to grant data entry
employees full access to view or edit customer records. Setting the "Data Entry" property
to Yes will only allow users to insert new records and modify records created during that