5 ways to add pizzazz to your InfoPath forms

Applies to
Microsoft Office InfoPath™ 2003 Service Pack 1 or later

As a form designer, you should focus on how your form looks, as well as how it works. Whether you're adding a splash of color or a company logo, InfoPath provides several ways to create interest and visually organize information so that your form is attractive and compelling on both the computer screen and paper.

This article describes several simple ways to add style to your form. You can use the design elements described in this article individually or in any combination to create the look you want. Just remember not to overload your form with too many different design elements, which can make it look cluttered. Instead, pick a few elements that meet your design goals, and use them consistently to give the form a polished look.

Tip 1: Apply a color scheme

Applying a color scheme is one of the easiest ways to add visual interest to your form. InfoPath provides many predesigned color schemes that enable you to apply different color combinations to certain items on your form. The following images of the Sales Report sample form show the difference between a form without a color scheme applied (on the left) and the same form with a color scheme applied (on the right). This comparison illustrates how using color schemes can change the way certain items look on your form.

Two sample forms

Because color schemes can have different effects on different items on a form, it is a good idea to try several color schemes while you experiment with various formatting options. For example, after you select a color scheme, use the Font task pane to apply different heading styles to text on the form to see what kinds of effects you can create.

 Note   When you apply a color scheme, only certain parts of the form may actually change color. Depending on the way the form was designed, this can include body and heading styles, table cells, and table borders. If none of these elements exist in your form, you won't see any change in your form after applying a color scheme.

Tip 2: Create different looks with text formatting options

Modifying the appearance of text can emphasize key information or drastically change the overall look and feel of your form. For example, you can adjust the color and size of certain words to easily create headers that help organize the form and break it into logical sections. In addition, changing the font type from a conventional font such as Times New Roman to something more whimsical can give your form a less formal appearance.

You can also specify how text will appear when users add information to the form, giving you even greater control over your form's appearance. You can either set formatting options for individual controls or save time by formatting multiple controls at once.

When experimenting with different text formatting options, keep the following guidelines in mind:

Tip 3: Add borders and shadings for accents or highlights

You can create interest and highlight areas on your form by applying borders and shading. A border outlines the boundaries of a control, table, or table cell. Applying shading to a control or table cell changes its background color.

Borders are particularly useful when you want to identify different sections in your form, which helps users understand the organization of the form. Additionally, you can highlight key information or important areas on your form by applying a color to a control so that it contrasts with its border or the form's background color. However, colors don't always appear the same on all computer screens, so you may want to view the colors you select on different computers to see how your form looks.

When designing your form, be careful not to introduce too many different border and shading effects. This can make your form look messy and detract from its overall appearance. Instead, focus on what you want to accomplish by using borders and shading (for example, you might want to use a border to highlight key information or reinforce the overall organization of your form), and then pick and consistently use an effect that meets that goal.

Tip 4: Add a background color

In addition to adding color to the different items on your form through borders and shading, you can also set a background color for the entire form. Background colors can create contrast and interest when users are viewing your form on the screen. However, background colors may not be optimal for printing, because users may not have color printers, and printing background colors in grayscale or black and white may make the form hard to read. Whether or not users can print background colors is determined by their individual Microsoft Internet Explorer settings; however, background color printing is turned off by default.

When you apply a background color, make sure that the text remains legible on the form. Also, remember that colors appear differently on different monitors, so you may want to view the colors you select on different computers to see how your form looks.

Tip 5: Include pictures

Pictures are another way for you to customize and add style to your form. For example, by including a company logo you can make your form look more professional. You can also use a picture as the background of your form.

Before you place a picture on your form, ask yourself what it will add to the form. Does the picture identify the company or the form's purpose? Is it distracting? Also consider the size of the picture and its location on the form. You don't want pictures to hinder users as they fill out the form. Keep in mind what the main purpose of the form is, and use pictures to help support that.

Applies to:
InfoPath 2003