Things to Do With Microsoft Access

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The database application Microsoft Access offers many tools for creating, managing and viewing your data. Creating tables, running reports and writing and running queries are tasks you'll likely perform if you use Access regularly. But you may also tailor Access to better suit your needs by learning to program the application.

Create Tables

  • Creating tables is at the heart of Access's functionality. Create tables by typing column headings in a grid, then telling Access what type of data each column holds. For example, to make a table holding information about famous artists, you might type the following column headings: "artistName," and "yearBorn." You'd tell Access that "artistName" is a text field, rather than a numeric one, by using Access's "Design" window. Similarly, you'd use this window to tell Access that "yearBorn" field is numeric.

Run Reports

  • Once you have data in tables, you can run reports on them to produce hard copies of specific subsets of your data. For example, if you're managing a sales team and want to see a ranking by sales amount of all the salespeople on the team, run a report that sorts the salespeople by their income. The first step in running reports is to click the table you want to provide the data for the report, in Access's left navigation pane. You then generate the report by clicking the "Create" tab's "Report" button. Access generates the initial report, which you can then customize in the "Design" or "Layout" views.

Write Queries

  • Putting data into Access without ever viewing it wouldn't make much sense, so Access provides queries for viewing your data. Write queries using the query grid, which you access through the "Query" button in the "Create" tab. Alternatively, you can type a statement in a language called "structured query language," which is better known as SQL. Regardless of how you create the query, run it after its creation to tell Access to interpret the query and return the subset of data the query specifies. For example, the query "SELECT * FROM 'ArtWorks' WHERE 'artistName'='Picasso'" picks out all artworks in your database that Picasso painted.

Automate Access

  • You can write programs that automate Access to make your workflow more efficient and error-free. For example, you can write a Visual Basic for Applications program to fetch data from an external data source like an Excel spreadsheet or Word document. You can then create a new Access table based on that data. Creating these programs involves writing statements that insert, fetch or delete dummy data, and studying the Access object model, which is a tree listing all virtual objects representing Access's components. These components include tables, queries and whole databases.

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