Polish the Layout

After you add controls to the form, you can use Outlook's layout options to add professional polish to your forms. Outlook provides a great set of layout options that will save you countless hours of finish work. This section covers how to select, edit, align, and space controls. You are encouraged to experiment with the remainder of the layout options.

Select and Edit Controls

To select a control on a form, click the control. To edit the control, click it again. For example, to select a Label control, click it once. To type text into the label, click it again and then type the text. To exit Edit mode, click outside the Label control.

Align Controls

With Outlook alignment options, you can align the borders of a control. When you align controls, the alignment is always based on the last control selected. The sizing handles of the last control selected are white, as opposed to black sizing handles on the other controls, to indicate the control on which the alignment is based.

To align controls

1. Hold down the Ctrl key, and then click each of the controls you want to align.

2. On the Layout menu, point to Align, and then click one of the alignment menu commands from the Align submenu. Space Controls

After you align the controls, you can space them so they are evenly separated. To space controls

1. Hold down the Ctrl key, and then click each of the controls you want to space.

2. On the Layout menu, point to Horizontal Spacing or Vertical Spacing, and then click one of the spacing options from the menu. Set Tab Order

The tab order defines the sequence in which the controls become active on the form when a user presses the Tab key . When you add controls to the form, the control name is added to the bottom of a list of controls in the Tab Order dialog box, as shown in Figure 5-23.

Label controls, such as ConversationLabel and SubjectLabel, are listed in the Tab Order dialog box but are not included in the tab order at run time. Also, when the Message control is active, pressing the Tab key will cause the insert bar to advance to the next tab stop in the control. If possible, it's usually best to place the Message control as the last control in the tab order.

You can select more than one control at a time in the Tab Order dialog box. To move multiple controls, hold down the Ctrl key, click the controls you want in the Tab Order list box, and then click the Move Up or Move Down button.

To set the tab order for the Compose page

1. In Design mode, on the Layout menu, click Tab Order.

2. In the Tab Order list box, click Move Up or Move Down to put the controls in the proper tab sequence and then click OK.

Figure 5.23 - Use the Tab Order dialog box to change the tab order of controls on a page.

If you intend to use the Tab Order dialog box to rearrange the tab order, it is good form design practice to use a standard naming convention to name the controls on your form. Otherwise, you will be confused as to the identity of the controls referenced by TextBoxl. TextBox2, and so forth. Consider adopting a standard control-naming convention that is used throughout your organization. Figure 5-23, shown previously, uses a typical Visual Basic naming convention.

View the Form in Run Mode

When you've finished with the layout of a page, it's a good idea to switch from Design mode to Run mode to see how the form will look at run time.

To switch between Design mode and Run mode

1. On the Form menu, click Run This Form.

2. Click the Close button to return a form to Design mode.

Create Help (Optional)

Not all forms require TipText help. In fact, most forms should be simple enough that TipText help is not required. In some cases, however, you may want to specify ControlTipText for a control. With ControlTipText, the TipText appears when the user positions the pointer over the control.

To create ControlTipText

1. In Design mode, right-click the control you want to specify ControlTipText for, and then click Advanced Properties on the shortcut menu.

2. Double-click the ControlTipText cell, and then type the text you want in the text box next to the Apply button.

3. Click the Apply button to insert the text into the cell.

4. Close the Advanced Properties dialog box.

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