Report Writer series: Formatting Text

If you have modified many Dynamics GP Report Writer reports in the past, you will have perhaps found that dealing with text fields is sometimes a little tedious. Here are a few simple tips to help you modify those reports a little faster.

Mass change the font on text-only reports

If you are editing a “text” report, or changing a report that was text-based to graphical, and if you want to quickly and simply change the majority of the font sizes or styles, use the Select All command (CTRL + A) to select all text then select Drawing Options (Tools - Drawing Options or CTRL + D) to edit the text. I find this useful when making a text report graphical as I can at least change the majority of the fields to a font and style and then go back and edit individual fields that need different styles, sizes etc.

If you are not sure if you are dealing with a graphical or text report look here on the Report Definition window for the text option to be ticked or not.


Selecting multiple fields to edit text at once

The method above will not work if your report is graphical and if you already have graphical elements on the report - lines, boxes, images etc. since the “select all” will select items that will make Drawing Options unavailable to you. Sometimes using the “lasso” and/or “CTRL-click” methods to select multiple pieces of text is the next best solution. Once you have multiple pieces of text selected then you can continue to editing them as described above (using Drawing Options).

Lasso: this means clicking somewhere outside of the boundaries of an item, and clicking your mouse and drawing a rectangular area around the pieces of text you want to select. Note that different programs work differently with this type of mass-item-selection. Report Writer requires you to completely encircle the item(s) you are selecting for the lasso to “grab” them.  Some programs as long as you “touch” the item, it is included but that is not how Report Writer works. Another small quirk is you can only lasso in one section of the report at a time. To get around this, lasso one section, then hold down your CTRL key and continue to lasso around other sections to keep the selections and add to them.

CTRL-Click: this means clicking on an item, then holding the CTRL key as you select additional items. The Shift key also works the same way in Report Writer.

Copying a format from one text field to another

This tip is courtesy of David Musgrave who, to many GP consultants, is a guru with an endless knowledge of GP technical and development subjects. There is no specific “format copier” feature like Format Painter in the Microsoft Office products.

What you do is first select the text field that you want to copy FROM, i.e. the field that has the font, size, style, etc. that you want other fields to have.  Then you select other fields using CTRL or SHIFT key ensuring the first field is still selected.  When you go into Drawing Options, the properties of the first field are already there, so you only need to click OK for the properties to then be applied to all of the selected fields.  Voila!  Formats are copied!

Changing the “default” font style

This tip is handy if you are adding new text fields to a report and want to avoid the hassle of placing all the text fields and then going back to edit their styles or fonts.  Without clicking on anything, go to Drawing Options (CTRL + D) and set what you want the default font, size, style, colour etc. to be.  From then on (in that session only), any next text items placed on the report will use that style.  Note I said in that session only: unfortunately this doesn’t persist between sessions so as soon as you close the layout window that default is gone.  However, this little tip does make adding large amounts of text quicker as you can set your styles up front painlessly!

Until next post… happy report editing!

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