You can certainly format and print tables and queries in Datasheet view, and that technique is useful for producing printed copies of simple lists of information. Although you primarily use forms to view and modify data, you can also use forms to print data-including data from several tables. However, because the primary function of forms is to allow you to view single records or small groups of related records displayed on the screen in an attractive way, forms aren’t the best way to print and summarize large sets of data in your database.
This chapter explains why and when you should use a report instead of another method of printing data, and it describes the features that reports offer. The examples in this chapter are based on the Conrad Systems Contacts and Housing Reservations sample databases. After you learn what you can do with reports, you’ll look at the process of building reports in the following two chapters.
The examples in this chapter are based on the reports, tables, and data in ContactsDataCopy.accdb and Housing.accdb on the companion CD included with this book. You can find similar reports in the Conrad Systems Contacts sample application, but all the reports in that sample file have custom Ribbons defined, so you won’t see the main Ribbon tabs when you open those reports. The results you see from the samples in this chapter might not exactly match what you see in this book if you have changed the sample data in the files. Also, all the screen images in this chapter were taken on a Windows Vista system with the display theme set to Blue. Your results might look different if you are using a different operating system or a different theme.
Reports are the best way to create a printed copy of information that is extracted or calculated from data in your database. Reports have two principal advantages over other methods of printing data.
Reports can compare, summarize, subtotal, and total large sets of data.
Reports can be created to produce attractive invoices, purchase orders, mailing labels, presentation materials, and other output you might need in order to efficiently conduct business.
Reports are designed to group data, to present each grouping separately, and to perform calculations. They work as follows:
You can define up to 10 grouping criteria to separate the levels of detail.
You can define separate headers and footers for each group.
You can perform complex calculations not only within a group or a set of rows but also across groups.
In addition to page headers and footers, you can define a header and a footer for the entire report.
You can have your reports respond to events such as opening forms so that you can view detailed information.
You can filter the report to drill down to more specific records before printing.
As with forms, you can embed pictures or charts in any section of a report. You can also embed subreports or subforms within report sections.