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Input masks are a field property that automatically formats phone numbers, Social Security numbers and other data so that all you have to do is enter the numbers themselves. Let's go to our Sales Rep Table and open it in Design View. Click on the HomePhone and then on the Input Mask line down here, click on the Build button on the right-hand side. Now Phone Number is already highlighted. Click down here to Try It. You'll notice though that you have to click in the very beginning of the box.
Otherwise, your cursor will land somewhere within the middle of the Input Mask. Try typing just the ten digits of the Phone Number. Click Next. If you want to change the underscore to a different character, do so here. We'll leave it as an underscore. Click Next. Now click the top option, so that the symbols get saved with the Mask. Otherwise, when you include the Phone Number in Reports, you won't see the parentheses, spaces and punctuation.
Click Finish. Now repeat the same steps for CellPhone, Input Mask > Build button. Go ahead and save the table. We're on Phone Number. Click Next. Click Next again. Choose the top option and Finish. Now click over to the Datasheet View. The table asks you to Save, please do, and scroll over to the Phone Numbers.
Click in HomePhone and type 3104561234, just the numbers without any characters, and when you press Tab you'll see the phone number properly formatted. We'll test all of these Input Masks in Chapter 4 of this course. So to save time, when you're entering numbers that include punctuation from Phone Numbers to Dates, create an Input Mask so that you only need to type the digits and let Access to care of the rest.
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