The Layout Area displays the layout of the report.

See the Controlling Tool Windows topic for information on controlling the location of the Layout Area.

The Layout Area is organized by bands. That is, objects that appear in the report appear in one of several bands, such as the PageHeader or Detail bands. A bar showing the band name appears across the Layout Area for a band. The space under the bar is for the objects in that band. Click the bar to select a band; a blue rectangle appears around the entire band. To resize a band, position your mouse pointer at the bottom of the band's rectangle and drag up or down. You can also change the height by editing the Height property in the Property Grid. You cannot make a band smaller than the bottom of the lowest object in the band.

Right-click a band to display a shortcut menu with the following items:

  • Paste: pastes the object on the Clipboard into the band. This is only enabled if an object was previously cut or copied.

  • Delete: removes the band. This is disabled for some bands, such as Detail, that must exist.

  • Insert Band: adds a band to the report. Choose the desired band type from the submenu; see the Bands topic for information on each band type.

  • Insert Detail Report: adds a detail report band to the report. There isn't a need to add a detail report band to a report since master-detail report are handled automatically using grouping.

  • Zoom: zooms the Layout Area to the selected size.

  • Move Up: moves the band up. This item only appears for GroupHeader and GroupFooter bands and is disabled if this is the top-most band of its type.

  • Move Down: moves the band down. This item only appears for GroupHeader and GroupFooter bands and is disabled if this is the bottom-most band of its type.

  • Properties: maximizes the Property Grid.

The ruler at the left is broken into sections, one for each band. There's also a ruler at the top. In both rulers, the white part shows the area on the page and the grey part shows the area off the page, including the margins.

If the report's Draw the Grid property is set to Yes, a grid pattern is laid out over the Layout Area to help you align objects. If an object isn't quite aligned to the grid, you can right-click it and choose Align to Grid from the shortcut menu. By default, there are grid lines every 1/8 of an inch. To change the grid scale, select the report in the Property Grid object list (it's the object with the spaces in the name of the report replaced with underscores, such as "Customer_Listing_Springy", and "Report" as the type) and edit the Snap Grid Size property value. By default, the measurement units of a report are hundredths of an inch, so a value of 12.5 means grid lines appear every 12.5/100 or 1/8 of an inch. To change the measurement units, edit the value of the Measure Units property; the choices are Hundredths of an Inch, Tenths of a Millimeter, or Pixels.

Click an object to select it. Doing so displays its properties in the Property Grid. You can also select an object in the Report Explorer or the Property Grid object list. A selected object displays with small squares, called "handles", at each corner and in the middle of each side. To resize the object, drag one of the handles until the object is the desired size. To move an object, drag it to the desired position. As you resize or move an object, magenta-colored "snap" lines appear. The lines show you where the object would be placed to align with other nearby objects beside and below the one being dragged. Finishing a drag when the snap lines are shown means the object is aligned with the other objects the lines touch.

You can select several objects at the same time by holding down the Ctrl key while you select objects. You can also select multiple objects by clicking outside one of the desired objects and dragging a "marquee" rectangle around the desired objects; any object even partially inside the marquee is selected. To unselect a selected object, hold down the Ctrl key and click it. Once you have several objects selected, you can change any common properties of all of the objects at once. This is much more convenient than changing the same properties of each object one at a time.

Right-click an object to display a shortcut menu with the following items:

  • Bring to Front: brings the object to the front of the object order so it's on top of any objects it overlaps.

  • Send to Back: sends the object to the back of the object order so it's behind any objects it overlaps.

  • Align to Grid: moves the object so its top and left edges are on grid lines.

  • Cut: removes the object and places it on the Clipboard so it can be pasted somewhere else if desired.

  • Copy: copies the object to the Clipboard so a duplicate of it can be pasted somewhere else if desired.

  • Paste: pastes the object on the Clipboard into the Layout Area. This is only enabled if an object was previously cut or copied.

  • Delete: removes the object.

  • Zoom: zooms the Layout Area to the selected size.

  • Properties: maximizes the Property Grid.

Bands and report objects display a small arrow when selected. Click this arrow to display a dialog with the most frequently edited properties for the item. You can edit the properties in this dialog instead of having to find them in the Property Grid.