Make your own free website on Tripod.com



Microsoft Access is the database component of the Office suite, included in all "Professional" editions of Microsoft Office. We use database management systems to organize and store our data, so we can retrieve it as useful information. Access is a powerful, flexible, yet easy-to-use relational database management system.

Nearly everyone has used a database at some time, perhaps without even knowing it. Anyone who has kept a “little black book” of names and phone numbers knows what a database is (OK let's make it clear: the "little black book" = a database). Database management has incredibly wide applicability. Consider for a moment who uses databases, and what for:

  • Businesses use databases to keep track of customers, inventory, and sales.

  • Trade associations, nonprofit organizations, and public interest groups use them to keep track of their membership.

  • People like us use databases at home to keep track of addresses and phone numbers, to catalog our household goods, or to manage our collections.

The PC database market is crowded, but Access has earned a leading position in it. This is because Access is not only powerful, but also easy to use.

Of course, with Access, as with any database management system, you have to do a little more planning “up front” than you do with, say, Word or Excel. Designing a database means deciding first what data you want to keep track of, and how you want to organize it. This determines what data tables you create, what kind of data you’ll enter into them, and how you’ll tie them together.

Next you must decide what kind of data you want to retrieve from the database. Do you want to view subsets of the data from a single table? Or data drawn from several tables? Do you want to group related records, or perform calculations on the data? This is what queries are for. Your answers to these questions will determine what queries you create.

Finally, you must decide how you want to present your data, both what you’ve entered and what you’ve retrieved. Will you view your data only on screen or print it out? If you print it, will you print it “raw” or as a polished report?

Access has templates to help you get started creating your database, and Wizards to guide you through the process of creating the basic database objects (data tables, queries, forms, and reports).

As you become more familiar with Access, you’ll come to appreciate its many capabilities not only as a database management system but also as a platform for developing applications. Think of an application as a set of tables, queries, data-entry forms, and reports with a friendly face – user interface, that is. Access has some handy  tools to help you turn your database into an application:

  • The Startup feature lets you specify what menus, toolbars, and forms appear automatically whenever you open your database.

  • The Switchboard manager helps you create a menu form for your application.

  • Macros let you automate tasks without having to learn how to program.

Access works well with the other applications in the Office suite. Here are some examples:

  • If you have data entered into Excel spreadsheets or delimited Word documents, you can import those documents into Access.

  • You can export your Access data tables as Excel spreadsheets or Word tables.

  • You can keep large numbers of names and addresses in an Access data table, and use that table as a data source in a Word mail merge.
Box shots reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation.

Go Back to the Top of the Page


Send mail with questions or comments about this web site to our webmaster.
Last modified: April 04, 2004

 This site was created and is managed with
Microsoft FrontPage

 

Internet Content Rating Association