Space/Length Allocation for form entry fields

By sofiaism ·
Hello. I'm looking for some advice on creating entry forms. How should we determine how much space to allocate for certain fields, for example, like contact information; and in the case of numerical values, especially for financial related applications, what would be a reasonable maximum limit, if there is such a thing?

If such limits are not imposed, is there any established way to present them in printed reports? Ellipsis for numbers aren't very practical, and there's only so much that we can reduce the font size to.

Are there any set of established rules which might perhaps explain these standards?

Thank you.

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All Answers

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its subjective and there are few standards.

by databaseben In reply to Space/Length Allocation f ...

field lengths are subjective.

basically, most programs that provide options to create input fields limit them to a maximum of 256 characters.

also, the actual size of the field doesn't limit the amount of data it can accept. for example, the field length might be an inch wide, but it can accept 256 characters of inputted data if you set the field properties to do so.

another consideration is if the data in the input fields are going to be stored in a database, like microsoft access or it the form you want will hold temporary data only, like for printing then deleting from the computer..

but fortunately, input fields can be adjusted as needed.

so for the meantime, i would make all fields 40 characters, while creating the form.

if you are going to have standard data on the form, like zip code or telephone or salutation or state abbreviations, etc, they do not have to be 40 characters.

so remember, after the form is implemented and put to use, you can always make adjustments to it and the field lengths, later.

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Reponse To Answer

by sofiaism In reply to its subjective and there ...

Thank you, databaseben, for the quick reply. While using ellipsis & run-off text may be fine for on-screen forms, where the user can actually scroll through the fields to see the entire content, how should we handle the same for printed hardcopy reports? A good example to illustrate my point would be an invoice table; the description fields can wrap down to multiple lines, but what about the numerical values? How should we handle huge numbers? If the numbers get too big and long, especially with certain currencies that can run in the trillions, how are we to represent them in printed reports? Are there any fixed/known standards for this?

Thanks again.

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try using a formal letter of invoice

by databaseben In reply to Space/Length Allocation f ...

with large numbers like currency conversions, you definitely want a single field dedicated to it - instead of mixing it with the description. its not uncommon for a product to have multiple fields on the invoice.

usually, the first field contains abbreviated data that your organization uses to identify the product, product number, manufacturer, etc..

the next field can have detailed descriptions or even instructions for use or warranty information.

then a third field could have financial data in it, perhaps calling it exchange rate and contain the formula that converted the cost of your product.

or maybe the third field could be sub divided in half, making one field contain the u.s. dollar and the second field containing the foreign dollar and the third field, the converted total.

also, although many types of invoices seem similar from one company to another, it is not uncommon to have an invoice that looks like a formal letter, whereas the subject line says "Invoice", the Reference line has "Invoice Number", the to and from heading has the customers contact data and your companies heading. (a collection letter is an invoice too)

then in the base of the letter, you would have one paragraph for your product,

the next paragraph would have instructions.

the next will have warranty, the next will have the formulation that converted the cost of the product from us dollar to the foreign equivalency.

then the next paragraph can have your bank routing number and instructions.

and of course your final paragraph can conclude the transaction with warm regards, sales agent data, etc...

but the letter can be formed in any way you want, as long as it contains all the information that your customer needs. you might also provide two letter letters, one in english and the other in the customers native tongue.

the reason that such invoice's are accepted in the form of a letter is because some products, like yachts and jet planes, simply can't be billed on a cheesy invoice.

in some accounting programs, whereas you can design your own invoice template, you can also create a template that looks pretty close to a formal letter as well.

the invoice in the form of a letter i describe above is not the same as invoice cover letter. an invoice cover letter must also have a standard invoice attached to it.

but either way, invoice letter or invoice cover letter + invoice, this is classier and its what you likely to add to your system of billing, when a simple invoice simply isn't sufficient.

remember, that when it comes to business, the rule of thumb is to do what works well for your company and not what works well for other companies, ie your competition.

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Reponse To Answer

by sofiaism In reply to try using a formal letter ...

Hello again, databaseben, and thank you for the elaborate explanation; it really opens up new avenues of features for my future development. But, if I may once again return to the original point, in my current project, I am creating a table that holds financial data and formulas. In each cell, only 12 numeric digits are visible, although the number could be bigger - but this is not the problem. The problem is, when the table is printed, what is the norm or standard for printing such numbers that exceed the cell space? Reducing the font can accommodate only so much, but some numbers can get really long, especially the totals, and especially for certain smaller currencies.

Thanks again.

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whole number vs rounding down

by databaseben In reply to Space/Length Allocation f ...

you really only have two options for printing large numbers.

either you print the whole number or you round it down (then either add scientific notations or add currency notations)

in science, many numbers are simply rounded down and displayed with a notation or large numbers are represented by acronyms, like the number that is represented by Pi.

when it comes to money and large numbers, you may have to use abbreviations.

for example,
1,000,000.00 = 1million = 1M
10,100,000.00 = 10.1million = 10.1M

all countries know what millions, billions and trillions are. however, in the example above, i would spell out millions, since foreign countries can misconstrue "M". so 10,200,005.00 = USD 10.2 million

remember when rounding down money you need to add notations to it, ie, currency code (like USD, YEN, GPB, etc..) and the currency symbols, like ($, #, # ). [fyi - symbols for yen and british pound don't display here]

you can get more info on currency searching for currency codes and currency values.

i hope the above helps.

incidentally, another example of international billing and invoicing can be provided by the u.s. customs.

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examples of invoice templates

by databaseben In reply to Space/Length Allocation f ...

some additional fyi - i found this site with invoice examples. if you notice, a couple of the templates strategically place the total on the left hand side. in doing so, this would permit large monetary values to stretch towards the right.

keep in mind that when creating template forms or reports, you don't always have to put columns together in one rows, ie next to each other.

for example, when creating reports, put some column headings on a second row, underneath the main row of columns fields. reports makers like msaccess permit you to have two or more rows to place column headers on a report template.

that way, you are not limited to displaying values to a single row, but instead values will be displayed over two or more rows.

for example, instead of putting the 1" column for Amount at the end of the main column header row, put it on the second column header row and stretch the column to 2.5".

in doing so, you can display the whole value without rounding or shrinking the font size.

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Reponse To Answer

by sofiaism In reply to examples of invoice templ ...

Hello databaseben, and thank you very much for all your help. I think this solution fits my requirements well. While the million/billion/trillion abbreviations are good, they fall short when the value has few or no zeroes, since rounding off is not an option. A proportionate adjustment to the cell and font sizes should be able to accommodate those bigger numbers. I've also noticed that even financial software from the big names like Quickbooks and Sage have a 15-digit limitation in total. I wonder why that is? Some sort of standard, perhaps?

Once again, thank you for your time and help!

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