What is Microsoft Access?

What is Microsoft Access?

Welcome to the world of Microsoft Access!

In the language of Microsoft, Microsoft Access is a software program for developing relational databases in an electronic format. A database is defined by computer geeks as a collection of related and organised data.

To keep these definitions really simple, Microsoft Access and the term database are essentially a Microsoft Excel table where you can interrogate (what an awful word to use in these times) the stored information in many different ways and eventually present the results in fancy ways to help make a certain task easier to perform or to recognise patterns in your information more easily, or meet some other aim of the database.

To put it in a nutshell, a database is the place where you can store, reorganise, and present data in many different ways so that (i) you may see hidden patterns in your data; or (ii) to perform certain tasks in an easier way. And because it is in an electronic format using Microsoft Access, the work you do on the data within your database, once it is organised, will be quicker than the traditional paper filing system, especially for large amounts of data.

How do I store, reorganise and present data in Microsoft Access?

A Microsoft Access database can contain up to six types of database objects:

These objects provide all the essential tools you will need for storing, organising and presenting data and in automating common tasks you do with the data in almost any way you like.

How do I begin creating a Microsoft Access database?

Before embarking on an adventure of creating a truly amazing database using this powerful package, it is extremely important for you to plan and design your database very carefully, especially with the likes of Microsoft Access. Microsoft Access is a powerful tool for storing, organising and presenting data. It can do things you would only have dreamed about a few years ago. But if you don't do the planning and designing first before creating a quality Microsoft Access database, you may find yourself looking at the wrong types of information. Or, you may need to incorporate missing information into your data, only to find that it will turn out to be a very time-consuming exercise, or is simply too inflexible and not optimally organised for your needs later on.

When planning your database, ask yourself this:

  1. What is your database all about?
  2. What do you hope to achieve with your database?
  3. What kinds of information do you need to store?
  4. What questions will you ask of the data, and how will you sort and group the data?
  5. How will forms be useful to you?
  6. What reports will you need to produce?

Write down detailed answers to these questions and extract the relevant information you need to start creating a quality database.

Now, when you are clear about what you want to do, you begin creating a database in Microsoft Access as follows:

  1. Open your Microsoft Access application program.
  2. Click on the New Database button on the toolbar. It should look like this:
  3. In the New Database dialog box that will appear on your screen, type a name for your database in the File Name box.
  4. Click OK. Microsoft Access creates a new database file and opens a new Database window as shown below: