The Access Wizard Newsletter
Tips, Tricks, and Traps for Access Users and Developers.

Continuous Forms Annoyance — Alternate Line Shading and How to Fix It


Take a look at the two paintings below. The first is called The Persistence of Memory, by Salvador Dali. I am a big Dali fan – when I first saw this painting as an undergraduate, I said wow!


The painting on the right is by Jackson Pollock. Pollock used a technique called dripping paint and, to me, his work looks like a jumbled mess. I have no appreciation whatsoever of his art and would not be unhappy to never encounter it again.

There are people who will pay millions of dollars for Pollock’s work and many who think that Dali’s paintings are the result of a very confused mind.

The difference in these two groups is a matter of taste. Certainly there could be significant debates by very learned people in the art world; however, at the end of the day, you like something or you don’t.
In this month’s Wizard, I am going to show you how to make something I find very annoying in Microsoft Access go away: Alternate shading in list forms and reports.

The Annoyance

Take a look at the form below.

Every other line has shading. Some people like this, I do not. By default when I see this, I make it go away. If one of my customers said, “Jim, I want you to maintain the shading on these forms, because it makes it easier for us to read.” By all means, I would accommodate them because I realize that shading is a matter of taste.

The Solution

To make the alternate shading go away, open the form in design view, and right-click on the details bar, which is the gray bar below the header section of the form. The bar will turn black as you see below.

When you right-click, a dialog box will pop up. Choose properties and you will see the property sheet below.

On this sheet, look at the Back Color and the next line down, Alternate Back Color.  It is the alternate back color that causes the shading. You can see that it is the same as the fore color, except 5% darker. To delete the shading, remove everything from the comma on, then save and close the form.

The result is this form, which to I find much easier on the eyes.

You can use that alternate back color to play around if you find the shading helpful. Perhaps you can find something as radical as a Jackson Pollock painting, which will amuse both you and your database users.

As in the Dali vs. Pollock world, it’s all a matter of taste. Find what you enjoy and make it look like that.

Tip of the Month: Reveal Hidden Objects

There are many behind-the-scenes hidden objects in the navigation pane, including tables that you or the database designer has hidden by intent. In addition to those created by the developer, there are system tables that, by design, are not easily available to users.

You may already know that if you want to hide a table, you right-click it, choose properties, and check the box that says hidden. Once it is hidden, it no longer shows in the list of tables.

To make it visible, and to see all hidden objects, right-click the top of the navigation pane, choose Navigation Options, and click in the box that says Show Hidden Objects.

If you choose to, you can also See System Objects. Clicking this will show you the tables that Microsoft Access uses to record and maintain various aspects of the program. The system objects are locked down from data changes to protect the integrity of the database engine.

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