Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
What Is Access?
What Is Access?
Access is an application that allows you to manage information in databases. It is available in
certain editions of Microsoft Oi ce and can also be purchased separately.
Access can handle databases ranging in complexity from a spreadsheet or text-i ling system to
those used by large organizations and companies. With Access, you can work locally on your
computer or, if you have an account on a SharePoint Server, you can make your database
available to the World Wide Web, and the data can be accessed through a web browser.
How can you use Access?
You can use Access to create, modify, and manage databases. Depending on the database’s
complexity and your needs, you can perform tasks such as the following:
• Create a database, either from a template or from scratch
• Establish relationships between types of information
• Add data to the database, either by directly editing i elds of tables, or by using a form,
which you can either design or choose from a selection of pre-made forms
• Import or link to external data sources
• Run i lters and queries on the database to limit your display to relevant data
• Generate reports to present your results in an esthetically pleasing format
In order to be able to work in Access, it’s important to understand what a database is, and
how it dif ers from a spreadsheet like those in Excel, which provide another common
method for storing and managing data. A database is an organized collection of data that
allows for storage, query, retrieval, and maintenance of information. A library’s card catalog,
a recipe box, and a company phone book are examples of databases, albeit using simpler
technology. It’s helpful to briel y compare and contrast databases and spreadsheets.
Both Excel and Access can be used to manage data. In fact, if your data can be easily entered,
stored, viewed, extracted, and otherwise managed within a spreadsheet, your best option may
be to use Excel, especially if you are already familiar with it. An example would be a small
staff directory that includes items such as Last Name, First Name, Oi ce, Phone Number,
Department, and Start Date.
If, however, your data has relationships among certain i elds, and you can see possibilities
of duplication, which would mean extra maintenance and potential for errors, a relational
database may be a better solution. For example, in a customer order database, you could have
separate tables for customer names and their orders. A given customer can have many orders.
This is an example of a one-to-many relationship, and is well suited for a relational database.
Additionally, you might want to have another table for order details, as there may be several
line items per order.