Learn Microsoft Access Advanced Programming Techniques, Tips and Tricks.

Easy-Read Reports

When Computer Reports; like Accounting Ledger Statements or Purchase Invoices are printed with closely positioned lines. It is easy to read if alternate line background is shaded with a light color.  Normally, pre-printed stationery is used for this purpose. Line-Printers will print 6 lines of data within one inch space vertically.  To print headlines in bold the double-strike method is used (the hammer will strike a character twice) and this is the only printing style available besides normal method. 

A4 (8.5 x 11 inch) size paper will have 66 lines of print positions vertically. Out of this one inch top and half an inch bottom margin area is left out while printing the alternate data print positions with green color like the sample image given below:

A4 size paper have 80 print positions across, when 10 character per inch (pitch) font size is used. This can be increased to 96 characters if 12 character per inch character size is used.

These were general information about computer stationery. Reports are designed for Line Printers keeping these specifications in mind.  If necessary we can design reports with detail section height and the text box controls’ height in one-sixth of an inch in plain paper stationery.

We are going to try a small trick to print alternate print lines with shaded background so that Users can read the contents very easily. We don't need pre-printed stationery for this and we will prepare shaded background while printing the report itself.

We can design a Quick Report and write few lines of VBA Code on the class module of the Report. If you already have a Report with closely printed detail lines you can skip to step-3 given below.

  1. Import Products Table from MS-Access sample database Northwind.mdb
  2. Use the Report Wizard to design a Tabular Report with the Products Table like the sample image given below:
  3. Open the Report in Design View.
  4. Select all the controls on the Detail Section of the Report and drag them to the right to get enough space to draw a Text Box at the left side to display Serial Numbers to the Report Lines.  Drag the heading lines and position them to the right.
  5. Draw a Text Box at the left side and write the expression =1 in the Control Source Property.  Change the Name Property Value to SRL.
  6. Change the Running Sum Property Value to Over All.
  7. Create a Label control at the Page Header above the Text Box and change the Caption to SRL (for Serial Number).
  8. Select all the controls in the Detail Section together and display the Property Sheet (F4 or Alt+Enter).
  9. Change the Top Property Value to 0.  All the controls will be shifted and positioned at the top edge of Detail Section.
  10. Select the Rectangle Tool from the Toolbox and draw a rectangle around all the text boxes in the Detail Section (see the design view image above).
  11. Display the Property Sheet of Rectangle (F4) and change the Name Property Value to Box1.
  12. While the rectangle control is still in selected state select Send-to-Back Tool from Arrange Menu to position the rectangle behind the text box controls.
  13. Reduce the Detail Section height so that there is no empty space below the Text Box controls.
  14. Display the VBA Code Module of the Report (ALT+F11).
  15. Copy and paste the following lines of VBA Code into the Code Module and save the Report:
    Private Sub Detail_Format(Cancel As Integer, FormatCount As Integer)
    Dim xSrl
    xSrl = [SRL]
    If xSrl / 2 = Int(xSrl / 2) Then
       [Box1].BackColor = &HCCC8C2
    Else
       [Box1].BackColor = &HFFFFFF
    End If End Sub
  16. Open the report in Print Preview.  You will find the result as shown in the report image at the top of this page.
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TOP N RECORDS IN QUERY

We have seen the usage of different type of complicated Queries like:

Today we will learn how to define and extract the top 100 or whatever number of records or certain percentage of the total records based on values in a particular Column.

You need to know only few rules to work with this type of Queries.

  1. You may select several Columns of data from source for output.
  2. You must sort one or more columns of data in Ascending/Descending Order and the left-most sorted column will pick the top value records.
  3. If the output values have duplicates (duplicate values in all columns in two or more records) then you can set the Unique Values Property to Yes (DISTINCT clause in the SELECT statement) to suppress duplicate records.
  4. If the Query has more than one Table/Query as source  and when duplicate records are found in the output; set the Unique Records Property value to Yes (DISTINCTROW clause in the SELECT statement) to suppress duplicate records.

Let us try an example:

  1. Open a new database or one of your existing databases.
  2. Import the Order Details and Products Tables from Northwind.mdb sample Database. The Products table is not directly used but there is a lookup reference to this table in the Order Details table for Product Name.
  3. Open a new Query in SQL View (without selecting a Table/Query from the displayed list).
  4. Copy and paste the following SQL string into the SQL editing window and save the Query with the name Order_DetailsQ.
    SELECT TOP 100 [Order Details].ProductID, [Order Details].UnitPrice
    FROM [Order Details]
    WHERE ((([Order Details].OrderID) Between 10248 And 10300))
    ORDER BY [Order Details].UnitPrice DESC;
  5. Open the Query in Design View and check the order of placement of fields and the Sort Field.
  6. Right-click on an empty area above the column grid to display the Query Shortcut Menu and select Properties… option to display the Property Sheet. Check the image below:
  7. Check the Top Values Property that set with the value 100, which dictates the Query to select 100 records with highest Unit Price values.
  8. Change the View of the Query into Datasheet View to display the output records.  See the image given below:

    The Order Details Table have several records of the same Product under different OrderIDs. We have purposely not included the OrderID field in the data column except in criteria to select the records of OrderIDs between 10248 and 102300 and to pick some duplicate records.  As you can see in the image given above; there are several duplicate records of the same product in the output.  With the duplicate records we can try out the Unique Values property settings.

  9. Change the Top Values property value to All and change the Query into Datasheet View. The output will be about 150 records for OrderIDs between 10248 and 102300.
  10. Change the Query into Design View and display its Property Sheet.
  11. Set the Top Values property with 100 and Unique Values property with Yes.
  12. Change the Query into Datasheet View and inspect the output.

    Now the duplicate records are suppressed (29 of them) and the output is now only 71 records.  The next property Unique Records can be set to Yes to get the same result when data fields are placed from two or more Tables or Queries joined together in the Query design and duplicate records are found in the output; due to one-to-many relationship.

    We have specified 100 records in the Top Values Property but the Unique Values property setting reduced the number of records into 71 after suppressing duplicates. 

  13. Change the Top Values Property setting from 100 into 25% and change the View into Datasheet View.

The percentage setting gives only one-fourth (18 records) of Total 71 records as output with the Unique Values setting to Yes or 39 records (one-fourth of about 150 records) with the Unique Values setting to No.

The Top Values Property setting can be a specific number or a percentage of Total Records.

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