ACC: How to Format Phone Number Fields Using an Update Query

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Article ID: 180816 - View products that this article applies to.
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If you use an input mask to format a field that contains phone numbers, but you choose not to store the formatting characters, the phone numbers in this field do not appear formatted when you use the table as the data source of a mail merge in Microsoft Word. In addition, the phone numbers do not appear formatted if you export the table to a text file. This article demonstrates how to use sample Visual Basic for Applications code with either an update query or a select query to create a new field that contains the phone numbers with correct formatting characters.

Microsoft provides programming examples for illustration only, without warranty either expressed or implied. This includes, but is not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. This article assumes that you are familiar with the programming language that is being demonstrated and with the tools that are used to create and to debug procedures. Microsoft support engineers can help explain the functionality of a particular procedure, but they will not modify these examples to provide added functionality or construct procedures to meet your specific requirements.


There are two methods for formatting phone numbers so that both the data and formatting characters appear when you perform a mail merge in Microsoft Word or when you export the data to a text file. You can use an update query to change the data in the original table so that it includes the formatting characters. Or you can create a select query that contains an expression that returns the phone number data with the formatting characters. You can then export the select query to text or use it as the source of a mail merge in Microsoft Word. Both of the following examples use a sample Visual Basic for Applications procedure to format the phone number.

Update Query

  1. In Microsoft Access, create a new database named PhoneDB.
  2. Create the following new table named tblPhoneNumbers:
           Field Name: OriginalNumber
              Data Type: Text
           Field Name: NewNumber
              Data Type: Text
  3. Click the row selector to the left of the Original Number field. Start the Input Mask Wizard by clicking the Build button (...) to the right of the Input Mask property.
  4. In the first screen of the Input Mask Wizard, select Phone Number from the Input Mask list and click Next twice.
  5. When asked how you want to store the data, select the option to store the data without the symbols in the mask, and then click Finish.
  6. Save and close the table.
  7. Open the tblPhoneNumbers table in Datasheet view and add the following two records:
           OriginalNumber         NewNumber
           --------------         ---------
           (111) 123-4567
           (   ) 345-6789
    NOTE: No values are entered in the NewNumber field.
  8. Close the table, click the Modules tab, and then click New.
  9. Type or paste the following code into the new module:

    NOTE: In the following sample code, an underscore (_) at the end of a line is used as a line-continuation character. Remove the underscore from the end of the line when re-creating this code in Microsoft Access 2.0.
           Function ConvertPhone(phone As String)
              Dim PhoneLen As Integer
              On error Goto ConvertPhone_err
              ' Determine if a valid number exists. If not, exit function.
              If Len(phone) = 7 Or Len(phone) = 10 Then
                 PhoneLen = Len(phone)
                 Exit Function
              End If
              ' Format number and return value to function name.
              Select Case PhoneLen
                 Case 7
                    ConvertPhone = "(   ) " & Left(phone, 3) & _
                       "-" & Right(phone, 4)
                 Case 10
                    ConvertPhone = "(" & Left(phone, 3) & ") " _
                       & Mid(phone, 4, 3) & _
                       "-" & Right(phone, 4)
              End Select
              Exit Function
              ' Use the following line if you are
              ' running Microsoft Access 7.0 or 97.
              MsgBox Cstr(Err) & " " & Err.Description
              ' Use the following line if you are
              ' running Microsoft Access 2.0.
              ' MsgBox CStr(Error) & " " & Error(Err)
              Resume ConvertPhone_exit
           End Function
  10. If you are using Microsoft Access 97, click Compile And Save All Modules on the Debug menu. If you are using Microsoft Access 7.0, click Compile All Modules on the Run menu; then click Save All Modules on the File menu. If you are using Microsoft Access 2.0, click Compile Loaded Modules on the Run menu; then click Save on the File menu. Close the Module.
  11. In the Database Window, click Queries. Click New.
  12. If you are creating a new query in Microsoft Access 2.0, click New Query; otherwise, click Design View.
  13. In the Show Table dialog box (or Add Table dialog box in Microsoft Access 2.0), select tblPhoneNumbers, and then click Add. Close the Show Table or Add Table dialog box.
  14. Add the NewNumber field to the Query By Example grid; on the Query menu, click Update Query (or Update if you are using Microsoft Access version 2.0).
  15. Type the following expression on the Update To line under NewNumber:
  16. On the File menu, click Save and save the query as qryPhone.
  17. On the Query menu, click Run.
  18. After the query is finished running, open the table tblPhoneNumbers and note that the NewNumber field has been updated with new data. If you use this table as a data source for a mail merge in Microsoft Word, or if you export this table to text, note that the data in the NewNumber field contains the formatting symbols.

Select Query

  1. Follow steps 1 through 13 in the "Update Query" section. It is not necessary, however, to create the field NewNumber in step 2.
  2. Type the following expression in the first Field box in the query grid:
       NewPhone: ConvertPhone([OriginalNumber])
  3. Save the query as qrySelectPhone. Note that if you export qrySelectPhone to text or use it as the data source of a mail merge in Microsoft Word, the data in the field NewPhone includes the formatting symbols.


For more information about input masks, search the Help Index for "Create an input mask to control how data is entered in a field or control," or ask the Microsoft Access 97 Office Assistant.


Article ID: 180816 - Last Review: January 22, 2007 - Revision: 3.3
  • Microsoft Access 2.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Access 95 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Access 97 Standard Edition
kbhowto kbprogramming KB180816
Retired KB Content Disclaimer
This article was written about products for which Microsoft no longer offers support. Therefore, this article is offered "as is" and will no longer be updated.

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