Microsoft Access 2003 is a relational database, which basically means you have tables with information and relationships set up between the tables. The basic structure of an Access database is:
  • tables hold data
  • relationships tell how the tables are related (for example: the last name I'm using here is the same as the last name used over there)
  • queries pull selected data from tables (or other queries)
  • forms let you edit data in the tables, but in a prettier fashion
  • reports let you set up information to be printed out (kinda like forms, but for printing)
Access is one of many software products out there that use the Structured Query Language (SQL, pronounced "sequel").

If you hit a wall, check out the advice in Creating Your First Database.

Lesson: Data Validation


This is all about checking your data to be sure it's been input correctly. Nothing like a phone number field that's missing a digit!

Look through your fields for data that's structured. Here are some common fields and how you can make sure they're valid:
  • Phone numbers: must have 10 digits
  • Email addresses: must have an @ sign, no spaces

Wikipedia has a short article about the types of data validation you might need to perform.

When working in Access, you want to go into the table design view and use the fields called input mask, field size, default value, and required.

Activity: Perform data validation in the table design view for all appropriate fields in your database. This should be done within 1 class period of starting. When you're done, add a discussion to the tab above and tell me what fields you validated and in what way.

Lesson: Table Design


Try to split data up as much as possible when designing databases. Only keep fields in the same table if they're about the same thing.

Set up relationships (F11) between tables & fields.

Drewslair.com has a great tutorial on working with tables.