Access 2003 & blank drop down list after installing SP3

I was at a customers site today when i had an Access database presented to me

“Where has all the data gone?!” 

When attempting to select a value in a drop down (combo) the list appeared empty. If you selected an item the field value was updated correctly.

I found this a little wierd and it appeared to be affecting everyone and it appeared to only be occuring with instances with a particular field.

I went to the underlying table and it turns out this particular field had some custom formatting applied. All the other fields did not

I removed the formatting and everything returned to normal

It was sorted but i was still scratching my head as to WHY when someone said

“It was fine until yesterday, then it all went funny this morning”

So what changed? Turns out “someone” had installed Office 2003 SP3

A bit of searching after the event turns out i’m not the only one who has run into this!

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Andy Parkes is Technical Director at Coventry based IT support company IBIT Solutions. Formerly, coordinator of AMITPRO and Microsoft Partner Area Lead for 2012-2013. He also isn't a fan of describing himself in the third person.

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8 thoughts on “Access 2003 & blank drop down list after installing SP3

  • I had to review the ACCESS tables to get the formatting correct after Office SP3 was pushed. The formats were set to “>”. Removing that resolved the issue.


  • Yeah, there were “>”s in all of my text-based field format fields too! Maybe SP3 put them in there! Thanks Andy!

  • I had this fixed – was the error re-introduced on the most recent patch Tuesday?


  • I have a multi user Access database and only one machine was showing blank dropdown boxes. It was the only machine running Office 2003 SP3. I have removed the “>” and all is OK. Many thanks

  • I had the same problem after the SP3 update and your solution worked. Perhaps Microsoft should take a look at this. Nancy

  • I use this patch to solve mi problem.

    “Description of the Access 2003 post-Service Pack 3 hotfix package: December 18, 2007”

    “After you install Office 2003 SP3, you encounter various problems in an Access project when you work with a Bit data type column in a linked SQL Server table”

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