Ideas about creating great looking reports

Lately I have been thinking a bit about report design and how to make reports look great without writing lots of line drawing code. Being a sports fan I have always thought sports sites do a good job making great looking reports. Personally, I couldn’t be happier about the Utah Jazz and their 12-1 start especially with a nice win at home against the Lakers. ESPN has a good looking format for the box score that can easily be created inside Access 2007 without writing code.


There are a few things I like about this report that makes it graphical and readable.

· Conditional formatting to match the team colors in the team header

· UPPERCASE the team name and inverse the color

· Alternate row color breaks up the rows

· Horizontal and vertical gridlines makes it easy to follow row headings downward

· Totals solid color and bold face make them stand out a bit without being overbearing

· The tabs across the top are a subtle effect that make it easy to navigate between reports

· I like how they use font size to draw out the final score (this is particularly helpful when I’m watching from across the room)

· The drop shadow along the page edge gives it a nice touch

· You have to love how the AJAX updating of data without a page refresh

I spent a few minutes this morning bit twiddling with a report in our Projects template to see how hard it was to replicate it in Access. It took about ½ hour but here is what I came up with:

I wanted to see how close I could get without writing code. I started with the Open Projects report in the Projects template that already had controls in stacks. If you are starting with a legacy report you will want to select the controls and convert to tabular stack layout. The create new report option does put new controls in stacks. The Category grouping was in the stack so I took it out and deleted it's label. I lowered the font size on the category from 14 to 11 point and used UCASE([category]) as the expression for the control source to give it the updercase look. I selected the background color and picked one of the darker theme colors to give the category a heavy grouping. My preference is to use colors from the Access theme group so that the report will visuall change colors if you open it in the other themes. I changed the fore color for the category text to white.

Creating the gridlines theme was pretty easy. I selected all the controls in the detail section and set their top to 0 and sized the detail section up so there isn't any extra room. This makes the gridlines line up nice and tight. I used the Access Theme color 3 to give the gridlines a subtle outline.

I used the Text Description color in the totals section to give it the heavy look and bolded the controls. I used left and right margin settings (.02 seemed to do the trick) on the controls to give the text a little breathing room around the gridlines.

I changed the fore color to the Project Name and Assigned To to black because the blue hyperlink was standing out a bit to much for me. The controls use the new Display as Hyperlink property for the underline and hand on hover, when it is printed the underline will go away.

I did add the report icon from the projects list form.

Any ways--I thought it turned out to be a nice report with a few tweaks to the original report.