About Access databases

A database is a collection of information that's related to a particular subject or purpose, such as tracking customer orders or maintaining a music collection. If your database isn't stored on a computer, or only parts of it are, you may be tracking information from a variety of sources that you're having to coordinate and organize yourself.

For example, suppose the phone numbers of your suppliers are stored in various locations: in a card file containing supplier phone numbers, in product information files in a file cabinet, and in a spreadsheet containing order information. If a supplier's phone number changes, you might have to update that information in all three places. In a database, however, you only have to update that information in one place — the supplier's phone number is automatically updated wherever you use it in the database.

Access database files

Using Microsoft Access, you can manage all your information from a single database file. Within the file, you can use:

  • Tables to store your data.

  • Queries to find and retrieve just the data you want.

  • Forms to view, add, and update data in tables.

  • Reports to analyze or print data in a specific layout.

  • Data access pages to view, update, or analyze the database's data from the Internet or an intranet.

A form, report, query, and data access page displaying data from the same table

1. Store data once in one table, but view it from multiple locations. When you update the data, it's automatically updated everywhere it appears.

2. Display data in a query

3. Display data in a form

4. Display data in a report

5. Display data in a data access page

Tables and relationships

To store your data, create one table for each type of information that you track. To bring the data from multiple tables together in a query, form, report, or data access page, define relationships between the tables.

Two tables, each with a Customer ID field that relates them

1. Customer information that once existed in a mailing list now resides in the Customers table.

2. Order information that once existed in a spreadsheet now resides in the Orders table.

3. A unique ID, such as a Customer ID, distinguishes one record from another within a table. By adding one table's unique ID field to another table and defining a relationship, Microsoft Access can match related records from both tables so that you can bring them together in a form, report, or query.


To find and retrieve just the data that meets conditions that you specify, including data from multiple tables, create a query. A query can also update or delete multiple records at the same time, and perform predefined or custom calculations on your data.

A query with fields from two tables

1. This query accesses separate tables to retrieve the Order ID, Required Date, Company Name, and City information for customers in London whose orders were required in April.


To easily view, enter, and change data directly in a table, create a form. When you open a form, Microsoft Access retrieves the data from one or more tables, and displays it on the screen with the layout you choose in the Form Wizard, or with the layout that you created on your own in Design view.

A form displaying one record of information and a Print Invoice button

1. A table displays many records at the same time, but you might have to scroll to see all of the data in a single record. Also, when viewing a table, you can't update data from more than one table at the same time.

2. A form focuses on one record at a time, and it can display fields from more than one table. It can also display pictures and other objects.

3. A form can contain a button that prints, opens other objects, or otherwise automates tasks.


To analyze your data or present it a certain way in print, create a report. For example, you might print one report that groups data and calculates totals, and another report with different data formatted for printing mailing labels.

Reports that total, display charts, or generate mailing labels

1. Use a report to create mailing labels.

2. Use a report to show totals in a chart.

3. Use a report to calculate totals.

Data access pages

To make data available on the Internet or an intranet for interactive reporting, data entry, or data analysis, use a data access page. Microsoft Access retrieves the data from one or more tables and displays it on the screen with the layout that you created on your own in Design view, or with the layout you chose in the Page Wizard.

Grouped data access page with expand buttons and record navigation toolbars

1. Click the expand indicator ...

2. ... to display the data and record navigation toolbar for the next level of detail.

3. Use the record navigation toolbars to move to, sort, and filter records, and to get Help.

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