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Getting Started With Microsoft Access 2019

Access 2019, the latest version of the Microsoft Office database application, has always been a powerful program, and this version is no different. All that power makes Access an application that's not so easy to learn on your own.

You don't have to use every feature and tool and push the edges of the Access envelope. In fact, you can use very little of everything Access has to offer and still create quite a significant solution to your needs for storing and accessing data - all because Access can really "do it all" - enabling you to set up a database quickly, build records into that database, and then use that data in several useful ways. Later on, who knows? You may become an Access guru.

What is Access good for? That's a good question. Well, the list of what you can do with it is a lot longer than the list of what you can't do with it - of course, especially if you leave things like "wash your car" and "put away the dishes" off the "can't do" list. When it comes to data organization, storage, and retrieval, Access is at the head of the class.

Building Big Databases With Access

Okay, what do I mean by big database? Any database with a lot of records - and by a lot, I mean hundreds. At least. And certainly if you have thousands of records, you need a tool like Access to manage them. Although you can use Microsoft Excel to store lists of records, it limits how many you can store (no more than the number of rows in a single worksheet). In addition, you can't use Excel to set up anything beyond a simple list that can be sorted and filtered. So anything with a lot of records and complex data is best done in Access.

Some reasons why Access handles big databases well are:

• Typically, a big database has big data-entry needs. Access offers not only forms but also features that can create a quick form through which someone can enter all those records. This can make data entry easier and faster and can reduce the margin of error significantly.

• When you have lots and lots of records, you also have lots of opportunities for errors to creep in. This includes duplicate records, records with misspellings, and records with missing information - and that's just for openers. So you need an application such as Access to ferret out those errors and fix them.

• Big databases mean big needs for accurate, insightful reporting. Access has powerful reporting tools you can use to create printed and onscreen reports - and those can include as few or as many pieces of your data as you need, drawn from more than one table if need be. You can tailor your reports to your audience, from what's shown on the reports' pages to the colors and fonts used.

• Big databases are hard to wade through when you want to find something. Access provides several tools for sorting, searching, and creating your own specialized tools (known as queries) for finding the elusive single record or group of records you need.

• Access saves time by making it easy to import and recycle data. You may have used certain tools to import data from other sources - such as Excel worksheets (if you started in Excel and maxed out its usefulness as a data-storage device) and Word tables. Access saves you from reentering all your data and allows you to keep multiple data sources consistent.

Creating Databases With Multiple Tables

Whether your database holds 100 records or 100,000 records (or more), if you need to keep separate tables and relate them for maximum use of the information, you need a relational database - and that's Access. How do you know whether your data needs to be in separate tables? Think about your data - is it very compartmentalized? Does it go off on tangents? Consider the following example and apply the concepts to your data and see if you need multiple tables for your database.

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