MS-Access / Getting Started

Table Basics

One way to think of a table is as a collection of data concerning a specific type of entity (such as customers, branches, transactions, products, and so on). You want each of these entities to have its own unique table. Among the many advantages to storing your data using this approach is eliminating or significantly decreasing duplicate information.

Opening a Table in the Datasheet View

Open your sample database and go to the Tables section in the navigation pane. Double-click the CustomerMaster table. When the table opens, it is in the Datasheet view. In this view, you are able to directly view and edit the contents of the table. As you can see in Figure below, the names of the columns are at the top.

The names of the Columns are at the top

Identifying Important Table Elements

The table is comprised of rows, with each row representing a single instance of the table name or entity. In CustomerMaster, each row represents a single distinct customer with which the firm does business. The proper database terminology for a row is record.

The table is also comprised of columns, with each column representing a particular piece of information common to all instances of the table's entity. In CustomerMaster, each column represents some attribute of the customer that you want to record. The proper database terminology for a column is field.

The number of records in a table is visible at the bottom left of the Datasheet view, next to the record selectors.

Opening a Table in the Design View

Through the Design view of a table, you are able to set the field names and data types. To get to the Design view of the CustomerMaster table, go to the Home tab and select View> Design View.

The Design view shows you the fields that comprise the CustomerMaster table in an easy-to-manage view.

Note how each field has a Field Name and a Data Type. The Field Name is the descriptive text string given to that particular column of a table. It is what appears at the top of the table when it is in the Datasheet view. The Data Type of the field ensures that only a certain type of data is allowed in the field. If a data type is tagged as a Number, Access does not enable you to enter any text into that field. By setting the data type of each column, you go a long way to ensuring the integrity and consistency of the data.

It's good practice not to put any spaces in your field names. When constructing queries or referring to tables in VBA code, spaces in the field names can lead to problems. If you need to indicate a space in your field name, use the underscore character (_). Keep in mind that your field names cannot include a period (.), an exclamation point (!), an accent grave (`), or brackets ([ ]).

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