Form Modification Basics

Form Modification Basics

After you've created a form with AutoPilot, you can rearrange, add, remove, and change the look of fields. You can also add text, graphics, and other elements to the form to make it more user friendly and attractive.

Switching From Edit Mode to Design Mode

You can toggle between two modes: one in which you can edit the control (design mode), and one in which the control performs whatever actions you've assigned to it. The controls function only when design mode is off; you can edit the control only in design mode.

To switch, use the Design Mode On/Off icon on the Form Functions tearoff menu or on the form functions object bar.

If you distribute the file for use, keep in mind that others will open the file in design mode, by default. To use the controls, they'll need to switch off design mode with the icon in Figure 36-17, or switch off editing for the entire document using the Edit File icon in the function bar, shown at the right.


Figure 36-17. Design mode on/off icon


Basic Form Modification

  1. In the form you want to modify, bring up the form functions tearoff menu. Locate the Form Functions icon in the main toolbar at the left, and click the icon as shown below. Then click the Form Design button to get into editable design mode.


    The fields in the form are now selectable objects that you can move and modify.

  2. Arrange and add elements, such as text and graphics, using the toolbar and object bar, as shown in Figure 36-18.

    Figure 36-18. Modifying and enhancing a form using Form Design


  3. When you're finished, click the Save Document icon on the function bar to save the modifications.

  4. To begin using the form, click the Edit File icon on the function bar.

In the example in Figure 36-18, an animated GIF and an explanatory paragraph were added to the form. To make this happen, all the controls were grouped and anchored to the first paragraph, and wrapping for the grouped object was set to None. The animated GIF was inserted and anchored above the first paragraph. The ruler was added to the workspace (View > Ruler), and the second paragraph, containing the text beneath the EMAIL field, was indented to fit under the entry box for the field.

To change the properties of the fields, select a field, right-click, and choose Group > Ungroup. This separates a field's label from the actual control where data is entered. Then select the field or label you want to modify, right-click, and choose the appropriate option. The Control option lets you change the look and behavior of the control.


If you need help lining up elements on a form, use a grid. To do this, choose Tools > Options > Text Document > Grid, select the Visible Grid and/or Snap to Grid options, and change the grid Resolution (size of squares) and Subdivision (number of dots between intersections) to set the grid the way you want it.

Changing a Field's Label

By default, a field on a form uses the name of the data source field it's connected to. You can change the name of the label to make it more readable, especially if the name of the field in the data source is cryptic.

  1. In the form you want to modify, click the Form Design button to get into editable design mode.


  2. Select the label of the field you want to change.

    If you can't select the label separately, right-click the selected field and choose Group > Ungroup.

  3. Right-click the selected label and choose Control.

  4. In the Properties window, change the Label field, as shown in Figure 36-19.

    Figure 36-19. Changing a field's label


  5. Close the Properties window.

Setting the Tab Order in Forms

Most people who do data entry don't like to take their hands off the keyboard. To move from field to field, they like to use the Tab key, which means the order in which the cursor jumps from field to field is important. This procedure shows you how to change the order in which the cursor jumps from field to field when you press the Tab key.

  1. In the form you want to modify, click the Form Design button to get into editable design mode. Any example is shown in the illustration at right.


  2. On the toolbar, click and hold down the Form icon, then click the Tab Order icon.


  3. In the Tab Order window, rearrange the order of the fields in the list, or click the Automatic Sort button to have the program set the order automatically.

  4. Close the Tab Order window, and click the Save Document icon on the function bar.