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Sorting and Filtering Your Data: Excel’s Database Features
Sorting and Filtering Your
Data: Excel’s Database
You hear the term database all the time, even in everyday conversation, but the concept
is rarely defined. People tend to rely on a common sense understanding of databases,
and that’s usually good enough—and the reality is that even Excel has found the task of
deciding what it really means by database a bit troublesome. That doesn’t have to
concern us, but on the other hand, since we need to use the term throughout this
chapter, we’ll plunge ahead and define a database as a collection of records (i.e., rows)
organized into fields, all of which are topped by titles.
And as it turns out, that’s pretty close to the common sense understanding. Thus, the
very standard collection of data shown in Figure 7–1 would qualify as a database.
Figure 7–1. A garden-variety database
Pretty standard, no? Note that the first row—called a header row —contains the titles of
each field, or column. And it doesn’t matter if the database contains 30,000 records or 3.
Either way, it’s a database.
Databases serve as the starting point for many of the tasks users can carry out in Excel.
For starters, databases can be sorted, either in numerical or alphabetical order, and
either ascending or descending—that is, A to Z, or Z to A, or 1 to 100, or 100 to 1. And
the same can be done with dates that you want to sort in chronological order, because
remember, dates are values.