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Exclamation Exploring Microsoft Access Database (Office 2007)

Exploring an Access Database
Once you have determined that an Access database will help you store and manage your data, you will need to learn the parts of a database, how to start using Access, and how to navigate the Access window. In this lesson, we will provide a basic overview of Access, including the parts of a database, and common tasks you can complete using a database.

Databases in Our Lives
Think about all the information we encounter on a typical day that might be organized by a database. For example, if you go shopping at a department store for a toaster, the store inventory of products is information that has to be stored somewhere, along with the price of each product.

When you make a purchase, the store needs to be able to store the sales information to determine the daily sales total and how to track the decrease in inventory. A database could store this information, and also allow the store to quickly determine how many Brand X toasters are in the inventory without needing to count the inventory on the shelves.

While this information could be managed without a database, it would be easier and more efficient to use one. Databases have an enormous impact in almost every area of our lives.

Think About It
Think about what is going on around you in everyday situations and whether there might be a database at work.

Grocery Store: The grocery store is stocked with items. The items have to be ordered, shipped, and stocked in the store. The store has to pay for the items. Then, when the customer buys the items, the cash register retrieves prices and the customer pays for products. Where might databases be involved in the situation?

Restaurant: Where does the food come from? How does management know when to reorder a product? How are bills paid?

Traffic Lights: Who or what controls when the lights turn red or green?
A database maintains order and structure in our lives. Databases are created using programs such as Microsoft Office Access 2007, which is a relational database program.

Getting Started with Access

When you start Access 2007, you will see the Getting Started window.

In the left pane, the template categories including the featured local templates are listed, as well as the categories on Office Online. Templates are pre-built databases focused on a specific task that you can download and use immediately.

In the example below, the featured templates are selected, and the template options are displayed in the center area of the screen. Featured templates include database template options that are available online, as well as templates available as part of the local version of Access.

Opening a Database

You have three main options on the Getting Started page. You can open a template database stored locally or online, an existing database, or a blank database.

To View Templates Included with Access:
Click Local Templates in the left pane. The center of the screen will change to display icons for the templates.
Select an icon in the center of the screen. Details about the database template will appear on the right.

In the left pane of the Getting Started window, you will see a list of categories for the templates available on Microsoft Office Online. You must have an Internet connection to download these database templates.

The Blank Database command allows you to create a database from scratch.

To Open an Existing Database:
In the Open Recent Database section, double-click the file name of the database you wish to open. It will appear in the window:


Click the More link. A dialog box will appear.

Select the database you wish to open.

Click Open. The database will appear.

The Access Window

Before you can begin to use a database, you need to become familiar with the Access window.

The Ribbon
Like other software in the Microsoft Office 2007 suite, Access 2007 has a tabbed Ribbon system that you use to navigate the database. The Ribbon is organized into tabs. Each tab contains groups of commands that you use to perform tasks in Access.

For example, on the Home tab, you’ll see that there is a Font group that contains the font formatting commands such as font type, size, color, alignment, and more. Unless you use keyboard shortcuts for everything, the Ribbon is how you get the work done in Access.

Quick Access Toolbar
Once you are familiar with Access, you may find that you there are commands that you use more often than others. To make it easier to use these commands, you can add them to the Quick Access toolbar. By default, the toolbar appears above the Ribbon on the left side of the Access window, and includes the Save, Undo, and Redo commands.

Microsoft Office Button
The Microsoft Office Button resides in the upper-left corner of the Access window and includes key menu options such as New, Save, Print, and more. From this menu, you can also change your Access Options.

Navigation Pane
The main control center of each Access database is the Navigation Pane. It shows you what is in the database and makes the information accessible to you. Also, you can choose to close the navigation pane, if you need more of the Access window to complete specific tasks.

To Open and Close the Navigation Pane:
Click the Shutter Bar Button on the right side of the Navigation Pane.

The Navigation Pane appears as a single column when it is collapsed.

Parts of a Database

A Microsoft Access database is made up of several components including tables, forms, queries, and reports. These components are called database objects. One or more of these objects are formed when a database is created, and all the objects appear in the Navigation Pane. To make the database easier to navigate, beginning Access users may want to reorder the objects in the Navigation Pane.
To Change how Objects are Ordered in the Navigation Pane:
Click the drop-down arrow at the top of the Navigation Pane to see the ordering options.

Select a menu option. The Navigation Pane will appear reordered based on your selection.
If you are new to databases, arranging the objects by type in the Navigation Pane is usually a good idea. This will group tables, forms, queries, and reports in individual groups in the pane.

To Expand or Collapse a Group:
Click any downward pointing double arrow to expand a group so that all objects are displayed.
Click any upward pointing double arrow to collapse a group and hide all the objects.

A database is made up of several components, or objects. These objects include:
  • tables
  • queries
  • forms
  • reports
We'll look at each of these objects in more detail in later lessons, but you can access them from the Navigation Pane like you can with tables.

A table is the database object that contains the basic information you wish to store. A blue and white icon represents the table in the Navigation Pane.

In the Customer Info table below, there are columns, or fields, of information including title and author. Each row is a record that contains the information specific to the fields listed.

Another database object is called a query. A query allows you to retrieve information from one or more tables based on a set of search conditions you define using the table fields.

For example, if you want to know the name of the books that have sold in Colorado and Kansas, you could create a query that would retrieve information from multiple tables to determine the answer. In this example, you would retrieve information from the Order table and Books table. Queries are covered in more detail in later lessons.

A third database object is the form. Forms are an Access tool that users can create to make data entry in database tables easier.

Entering data directly into a table can be difficult if there is a lot of information to enter. Like an Excel spreadsheet, an Access table is essentially a screen filled with blank rows where a user enters records. Forms, however, provide users with an easy-to-read interface where they can enter table data. Forms are especially useful for Access users that aren’t comfortable working with databases.

The final database object is the report. A report is an effective way to analyze and present data using a specific layout. The text can be formatted in an Access report, just like it can be in Word documents.

To Close an Object:
Select the tab for the object you wish to close. (The highlighted tab is the active tab).
Right-click the tab and select Close from the menu.


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