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Design a database using Microsoft Access - the very basics - Part I

Updated on December 18, 2015

Is this guide to MS Access for you?

This Hub is intended for the layperson in the truest sense of the word. I learned to use Access myself by fooling around with it and still have no actual training or certification.

I believe that is precisely the reason why I have been able to help so many others in the position I was to learn to use this basic but very handy and versatile program.

The MS Access 2007 logo
The MS Access 2007 logo

Which version of MS Access should I use?

I learned MS Access with the 2003 version. I currently use the 2007 version, the oldest Office program on my computer. It has a lot more handy features, but I really miss the older version.

This Hub explores the very basics of MS Access databases which are common to all versions, so it does not matter what version you have.

What good is MS Access? Won't Excel do?

MS Access is a relational database program. In a nutshell, that means it is a program where information is 'related' so it isn't repeated.
For example, a single lady's surname may be displayed in the employee list, payroll list and managing committee list in her employer's database. If she changes her name, the several instances of her name don't have to be changed individually.The 'relationship' created in the database means one update will instantly update all occurrences of her name in all company documents.

A system like this reduces typo errors which inevitably creep in when we enter data, and saves a lot of time.

MS Excel is sometimes used to maintain databases and does an adequate basic job; Access is built for database management and is phenomenally better.

How does MS Access work this magic?

Database programs like Access store information in basic 'tables'.

Every document or form where that data appears is used in is linked to the table. Using our example above, you only have to change the lady's once (e.g. in the Employee Details table) and every place that information appears is instantly updated. So, the employee's name will be updated in the staff contact list, on their letterhead, on invoices they handle, on their paycheck, on the managing committee list etc.


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