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It's Valentine's Day and because I love you, I'm going to go over some very basic terms that you need to know when using Access (or, frankly, any database software). YES the terms I’m demystifying today are quite basic and there's a reason for this: I have found that many people are using Excel when it's Access they should be using.
(Yes, I know that Excel is a wonderful program on its own, of course. I am NOT bashing Excel. But there are times when Access has a clear advantage over Excel. This article explains it beautifully.)
And why is that? Why are some of you reticent to start frolicking in Access? Fear, my friends—fear. (Ever see the movie Defending Your Life? It's one of my all-time favorites and it's all about how holds us back from getting what we need and where we want to go.)
Okay! Enough pontificating. Let's get to those terms.
First, here is a datasheet (which, in this case, is data from a table, that's displayed in a row-to-column format; a table is where you store your data):
A query is either a request or a question that you "ask" Access about the data stored in your tables. (In Access, "tables" are where you store your data, your information.) It brings together your data so that you can create a form or a report. Using the table example above, you can do the following:
Introduction to queries
A form is a database object that helps you control the access to your data, such as which fields or rows of data are displayed. It's a way for people to be able to see "into" your database. You set up a form so that people—including you—can find what they're looking for quickly. And if you or others are going to be adding more information to the database, setting up a form can ensure that no incorrect data will be entered.
Create a form using the form tool
A report is similar to a form—it shows you just the type of information you want shown. It's also what you get after you run a query. It can be printed and contains information that's organized and formatted as you want it. A phone list is a report, and so is a collection of mailing labels.
Create a simple report
Of course there is a lot more to Access (and again, database software in general) than these few terms. Take a look at my column called Demystifying Access terms, where I cover these terms as well as some others, including expressions, filters, and control styles and values.
I hope this was helpful. Again, there are times when Access is better than Excel for what you need to do. The article I referenced at the start of this post says, “If you store your data by using Access and analyze it by using Excel, you can gain the benefits of both programs."
Not finding the help you need from the various channels you've tried? Microsoft Answers is where you're most likely to solve your nagging problem.