Learn Microsoft Access Advanced Programming Techniques, Tips and Tricks.

Input Masks and Data Entry


Input masks are a special group of characters that can be used in the input mask Property of data fields to make data entry work easier in Microsoft Access.  You can use them on Forms too.

Keyed-in Text Value changes in upper case automatically or inserts slash (/) characters or other valid characters in Date Format separating Day, Month, and Year segments, or insert hyphen (-) characters in Telephone Numbers separating Country Code, Area Code, and Telephone Number and so on.

When a large volume of information is fed into the System manually this kind of support in the data entry process goes a long way in making the work easier for the User, besides maintaining/displaying the data in a standard format.

Let us look into an example. Assume that we have a Text Field for entering Telephone Numbers and the sample InputMask Property setting is given below:

Input Mask of Telephone Number

(###) ###-#######;0;_

When the field is active before entering any values into the field, it will look like the display below:

(___) ___-____

The keystrokes that you will make to key in the telephone number are +914792416637 but the value will be automatically positioned in appropriate places guided by the Input mask as (+91) 479-2416637. You don't need to key in the brackets, space, or hyphen in between separating Country Code, Area Code, and Telephone Number.

The Input Mask Property Value is expressed in three segments separated by a semi-colon.

The first segment value is the Input mask itself: (###) ###-#######.

The second segment value is 0 or 1. If the value is 1 then the separator characters (brackets, space, and hyphen) are stored with the data in the field, like (+91) 479-2416637 (the field size must be big enough to store all the characters). If the value is 0 then the keyed-in data alone is stored in the field as +914792416637 and the Input Mask is used for displaying the value only.

The third segment value (the underscore character in our above example) is used for filling the empty positions with underscore characters showing the data entry field size.

When the Input mask character is # in all required character positions; you are allowed to enter Digits, Spaces, Plus, or Minus symbols only in the field or you may leave the entire field empty.

Input mask character 9 works in a similar way, but it will not allow the usage of Plus or Minus symbols in the data field. Input mask character 0 allows us to enter the digits 0 to 9 only and cannot enter Plus or Minus symbols.

Input Mask Date Field.

Input Mask Example2 (Date Field Input Mask): 99/99/0000;0;_

Sample Data Entry: _1/_1/1984 or 01/01/1984

Date value changes into 01/01/1984

In the Day and Month positions, you are allowed to enter a Space, but in the Year position, all four digits must be entered because the 0 input mask will not allow Spaces and cannot leave that area empty. But, you can leave the Date Field totally empty.

Input Mask in Text Field.

Input Mask Example3 (Text Field): >CCCCCCCCCCCCCCC;0;_

Allowed to enter any Character or Space or you can leave the data field blank. The Text Value entered will be converted into Upper Case and you don't need to bother about the CAPS-LOCK settings.

If you use the word Password as Input Mask Value then whatever data you enter into the field will appear as a series of * characters and the actual value entered is not shown.

The list of Input Mask characters and their usage descriptions are given below.

Character    Description

0            Digit (0 to 9, entry required, plus [+] and minus [-] signs not allowed).

9            Digit or space (entry not required, plus and minus signs not allowed).

#            Digit or space (entry not required; spaces are displayed as blanks while in Edit mode, but blanks are removed when data is saved; plus and minus signs allowed).

L            Letter (A to Z, entry required).

?            Letter (A to Z, entry optional).

A            Letter or digit (entry required).

a            Letter or digit (entry optional).

&            Any character or a space (entry required).

C            Any character or a space (entry optional).

. , : ; - /  Decimal placeholder and thousand, date, and time separators (separator: A character that separates units of text or numbers.). (The actual character used depends on the settings in the Regional Settings Properties dialog box in Windows Control Panel).

<            Causes all characters to be converted to lowercase.

>            Causes all characters to be converted to uppercase.

!            Causes the input mask to display from right to left, rather than from left to right. Characters typed into the mask always fill it from left to right. You can include the exclamation point anywhere in the input mask.

\            Causes the character that follows to be displayed as the literal character (for example, \A is displayed as just A).

Password     Displays * in all keyed character positions.

You can use the above characters in a mixed form to get the output the way you want.

For example, the Input mask >C<CCCCCCCCCCCCCC;0;_ will change the first character in Upper Case and the rest of the Text into small letters and accepts up to 15 characters or less in the field.

Technorati Tags:

Earlier Post Link References:



  1. Good post and this post helped me alot in my college assignement. Say thank you you as your information.

  2. I need to know what vaule to enter for a name like McDonald. An autocap with the additional option to use Caps if needed but otherwise text remains in lowercase. Is this possible?

  3. Input Masks cannot be conditional but with manual intervention (like button clicks or checkbox clicks etc.) it is possible with VBA.

    For McDonald like names set the Input Mask to ">L<L>L<????????????"

    For first letter cap and remaining characters in lower case: ">C<??????????????"
    For all upper case letters you can remove the < symbol.

    If the above Input Masks strings are required on the same textbox at your will then create two Command Buttons (cmd1 and cmd2) and add two Click Event procedures as given below:

    Private Sub cmd1_Click()
    Me.txtDisplay.InputMask = ">L<L>L<????????????"
    End Sub

    Private Sub cmd2_Click()
    Me.txtDisplay.InputMask = ">C<??????????????"
    End Sub

    The Input Mask string will be set to the txtDisplay Text Box depending on which command button you clicked before entering values into it. Even after entering value if you click the command button you can see the text changes.


Comments subject to moderation before publishing.




Post Feed


Popular Posts

Blog Archive

Powered by Blogger.


Forms Functions How Tos MS-Access Security Reports msaccess forms Animations msaccess animation Utilities msaccess controls Access and Internet MS-Access Scurity MS-Access and Internet Class Module External Links Queries Array msaccess reports Accesstips WithEvents msaccess tips Downloads Objects Menus and Toolbars Collection Object MsaccessLinks Process Controls Art Work Property msaccess How Tos Combo Boxes Dictionary Object ListView Control Query VBA msaccessQuery Calculation Event Graph Charts ImageList Control List Boxes TreeView Control Command Buttons Controls Data Emails and Alerts Form Custom Functions Custom Wizards DOS Commands Data Type Key Object Reference ms-access functions msaccess functions msaccess graphs msaccess reporttricks Command Button Report msaccess menus msaccessprocess security advanced Access Security Add Auto-Number Field Type Form Instances ImageList Item Macros Menus Nodes RaiseEvent Recordset Top Values Variables Wrapper Classes msaccess email progressmeter Access2007 Copy Excel Export Expression Fields Join Methods Microsoft Numbering System Records Security Split SubForm Table Tables Time Difference Utility WScript Workgroup database function msaccess wizards tutorial Access Emails and Alerts Access Fields Access How Tos Access Mail Merge Access2003 Accounting Year Action Animation Attachment Binary Numbers Bookmarks Budgeting ChDir Color Palette Common Controls Conditional Formatting Data Filtering Database Records Defining Pages Desktop Shortcuts Diagram Disk Dynamic Lookup Error Handler External Filter Formatting Groups Hexadecimal Numbers Import Labels List Logo Macro Mail Merge Main Form Memo Message Box Monitoring Octal Numbers Operating System Paste Primary-Key Product Rank Reading Remove Rich Text Sequence SetFocus Summary Tab-Page Union Query User Users Water-Mark Word automatically commands hyperlinks iSeries Date iif ms-access msaccess msaccess alerts pdf files reference restore switch text toolbar updating upload vba code