Crystal Reports: Background Colors
Control those background colors on a
section (All versions).
In the section expert, you can set a
background color on a section. This can be an effective way to highlight a
colored band for column headings.
But one effect you may not want is that
the band goes all the way across the page. If you want a colored band
across the report, but would like it to be narrower, we have a solution.
Create a second section and move it
the above the original section.
Set this new section to “Underlay”
Make the section slightly larger than
the subsequent section
Insert a box in this section, change
the Border Style to “None” and set a fill color
This can be a very effective formatting
technique to add some color to your report.
You want to use the formatting to accomplish such goals as:
- Present a clean but compelling appearance.
- Guide the reader's eye to what's important. That means very little
highlighting or bolding.
- Separate information or visually group it.
- Make the report consistent with other company literature. For example,
use company colors, company logo, and the official font (if there is one).
- Create a different flavor or appearance for each type of report. For
example, financial reports have a green border, sales reports have a salmon
border, production reports have a blue border, and so on.
- Show what has changed.
- Highlight problem areas.
How do you get colors on a computer screen? Whatever colors you
see on your monitor are the result of combining different values of Red, Green
and Blue. Website designers choose from a palette of colors, typically using a
graphical UI that represents a numerical system.
It is this numerical system you'll have to use if you want to
specify a color within a formula. You can specify
colors using the Color (red, green, blue) function. Each of the
arguments of this function is a number between 0 and 255. The higher the value
for a particular color, the more of it is used.
But what are the values for a specific color? You can look this
up in an unrelated design program, if you happen to have such a program. You can
also look them up online, though that has proven to be an exasperating exercise
for many who try it.
To the rescue is Crystal Reports' Custom color
palette can help. In addition to providing a way for you to select a color
graphically, it tells you what the RGB values are for that specific color.
We could, for example, select one color with a value of Red=105, Green=015 and Blue=199.
We could select a second color with a value of Red=250, Green=115 and Blue=050. We could use those numbers in a conditional formatting formula
to give us an "If X, then Color A else Color B" color indicator.
On this Website, we have other articles about colors and
formatting. If you are feeling artsy and want to ensure your work gives a
professional look to your reports, see those other articles.
You'll find tips like these:
Avoid common color usage errors
- Don't just add colors gratuitously. Think of colors in reports as a chef
thinks of spices in food. Colors need
to bring out the flavor of the report, not overpower the message. Colors need to work
together. Some spices clash when used together, and so do some colors.
- A common mistake with colors is to use large blocks of colored text on
the page. For example, some people use yellow on a black background and that's
fine for a small area.
But it's not very scalable. You get maximum
readability with black text on a white background. You can use colored text
to emphasize or to bring out headings (or subheadings). Color used for
the main body of the text detracts from the report.
- Don't use colored page backgrounds. First of all, you're back at that
readability issue we just discussed. But also you get printing problems when
trying to pass an ink-saturated page through an ink-jet printer. With duplex
printers, the problem is twice as bad. For laser printers, you might get away
with this kind of thing but you're still violating a usability principle.
- Use contrasting colors. It's hard to ee the difference between two
closely related colors. Making readers work at getting to the information is not
good report design. Don't use light blue on blue (this annoying scheme just
refuses to die, but we hope it will meet its demise permanently very soon).
Variations in printing also cause
confusion, when you use closely related colors.
Then there's the issue of referring to the color. Bob in
Accounting is discussing the report. He can easily ask Beverly compare the
total that appears in dark blue text to the total that appears in dark brown
text. But how can he refer to the total in tan versus the one in light
- Avoid red backgrounds. These irritate the eye. They will probably also
irritate your boss.
- Remember, color costs money. Use it where there's a return on that
investment (no need to calculate ROI). Sure, it's not a lot of money but waste
- If there's no particular reason to use color, don't use it. That makes it
special when you do use it.
This article is copyrighted by
Crystalkeen, Mindconnection, and Chelsea Technologies Ltd. It may be
freely copied and distributed as long as the original copyright is
displayed and no modifications are made to this material. Extracts are
permitted. The names Crystal Reports and Seagate Info are trademarks owned
by Business Objects.