Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
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Understanding the Basics of a Database
Understanding the Basics of a Database
A database is nothing more than a file that contains useful information that
you need to save and retrieve in the future. A database can consist of a single
name and address, or several million names and addresses.
A typical Access database file consists of several parts:
Fields: A field contains a single chunk of information, such as name,
street address, or phone number.
Records: A record consists of one or more fields. A business card is a
paper version of a database record that stores fields (name, address,
phone number, and so on) about a single person (record).
Tables: A table displays records in rows and columns, much like a
spreadsheet. Tables group related records, such as records of all your
customers or records of all your invoices.
Forms: A form displays all the fields of a single record on-screen,
mimicking a paper form, so that you can add, edit, or view a single record at
a time.
Queries: A query lets you retrieve certain information based on your
criteria, such as only retrieving names and addresses of people who earn
more than $50,000 a year and have children.
Reports: A report arranges your data in a certain way, such as showing
all customers who placed more than 1,000 orders last year or all
customers who live within a certain zip code.
Access is known as a relational database. Basically, this means that you can
store data in separate tables and link or “relate” them together to avoid
duplicating data in multiple tables. One table might contain customer names and
addresses while a separate, related table might contain those same
customers’ purchase orders.
Here are the two basic steps to using a database. First, you need to design
your database, which means deciding what type of information your
database will hold, such as names, addresses, e-mail addresses, telephone
numbers, and so on.
After you design a database, the second step is filling it with actual data,
such as typing the name Bob Jones in the Name field or the e-mail address in the E-mail field.
When you first create a database, you’ll probably start out with a single table
that contains customer information. Inside the Customer Information table
will be multiple records where each record represents a single customer.
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