Basic Database Concepts

In your earlier work with Excel, you created worksheets to store and summarize information or data. Often you organize this information so that you can easily find the entries for a series of values, or calculate the totals for a group of numbers.

In Excel, a database is simply a more organized set of data. By organizing the data into a database, you can use the built-in database commands to find, edit, and delete selected data without manually scrolling through the information.

Database? graphics/newterm_icon.gif A tool you use to store, organize, and retrieve information. Excel treats the database as a simple list of data. You enter the database information just as you would enter data into a worksheet. When you select a command from the Data menu, Excel recognizes the list as a database.

Suppose you want to save the names and addresses of all the people on your holiday card list. You can create a database for storing the following information for each person: first name, last name, address, and so on. Each piece of information is entered into a separate field (cell) in the list. All the fields for one person in the list make a record. In Excel, a cell is a field, and a row of field entries makes a record. The column headings in the list are called field names in the database.

Figure 21.1 shows the organization of an Excel database.

Figure 21.1. Sample database.


Before you work with a database, you should know these database terms:

  • File? A collection of related data.

  • Field? A column in the database.

  • Field name? A column heading in a database. Excel uses the term column label.

  • Record? A row in the database.

After you learn the database terms, here are two more things to think about when creating a database:

  • Designing the database on paper

  • Building the database with the field names and records

    Part I: Excel Basics