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There are two primary challenges to creating a great-looking form or report in Microsoft Access. First, picking a group of colors that complement each other, which can be a real challenge even for professional designers. Second is picking the right fonts, fonts that are readable and distinct but compact enough that they'll allow you to put a lot of text on a page or screen. In earlier versions of Access, once you chose the colors and fonts you wanted to use for labels and text boxes, Access applied those font styles and colors to the individual controls, in every form or report.
So unless you had time on your hands, you were often stuck with your early design choices. Changing the font or color for every single label, every single text box, on every single report, and every single form, was too time consuming, particularly for fully developed databases with many forms and reports. Over the years, we learned to live with lots of ugly access databases. With Access 2010 themes, you can easily update all the forms and reports in your database, with new font and color choices, as long as you create your database objects using the theme colors and theme fonts.
Let's take a look at the theme colors. I'm going to move into Design View for this particular report. Let's go to the Home tab for a moment and let's take a look at the font color choices we would have here. There are two different sets of colors that are available, one is Theme Colors and the second is Standard Colors that we've had all along. The Standard Colors are fixed RGB values. When I point to one of the Standard Colors, it tells me what its name is and there's a RGB value behind that. If I choose this Red font, it will always be red, no matter what happens to other colors in this particular report.
Red will always be red. Yellow will always be yellow. The Theme Colors, however, are dynamic. When I point to a theme color, I not only see the name, I see a description of how that color will be used in this theme. This color, for example, will be used for text, this Tan is a Background, this Blue is a Text color and this lighter Blue is an Accent color. The colors shown below are less intense versions of the Theme Colors, so for example, this is a Red, based on Accent 2, that's 40% Lighter than the color that we see here.
If I change my themes, I'll get a whole new set of Background, Text and Accent colors. Fonts work exactly the same way. If I take a look at the font list, at the top, I see two dynamic theme fonts, one for Headers, one for Details. As long as I use these two fonts, the fonts I use will change based on the theme. These other fonts in the list, however, are static. They won't change at all. I'm going to click on the Design tab now and let's take a look at the Themes.
There are 40 built-in themes in Office 2010. These themes are used not just in Access but in Word, Excel and PowerPoint, so its easy for me to create reports that will complement the reports that I create in the other office applications, or the presentations that I create to use to show information for my Access database. If none of these built-in Themes are exactly what you want, you can also create your own custom themes, from Scratch, or by changing some of the attributes of an existing theme. Notice as I point to a new theme that I automatically get a live preview in the background to show me what the report would look like if I would have to use that Theme and here's the magic.
If I change the theme for this report, I'm changing the theme for all of the reports, within this entire database. So If I choose, for example, this theme and save it, I've reformatted this report but I've also reformatted Order Details, which is another report and I've reformatted this form all at one time, every control, on every form, and every report. By using Office 2010 themes in our Access database, we can the dare to redesign our database objects to improve their appearance or to match some corporate branding.
With a single click, we can try out different colors and fonts and instantly apply that change to all of our forms and reports, saving hours or even days of work. With Access 2010, there's no need for ugly databases.
- Styling data with conditional formatting
- Converting reports and templates to PDFs
- Using Application Parts to add new functions to databases
- Leveraging Office themes