What is Microsoft Office Access?

Many users of Microsoft Office are familiar with Word (for text), Excel (for calculations) and PowerPoint (for slides). The professional version of Microsoft Office also includes a relational database management system called Microsoft Office Access (list management). The current version is Microsoft Office Access 2010, which is used to track, sort, select, and manage lists of information such as customer names and addresses, product and inventory information, and/or airline flight information.

An Access database file contains four main types of objects: tables which are the objects that store the data (the list); queries which provide the ability to ask for specific pieces of data;  forms which provide an easy-to-use interface to enter, edit, delete, find and print specific data; and reports which are used for creating a professional, printed version of data or for creating labels.

Although both Access and Excel have list management capabilities, Access is by far the best choice if data manipulation is your goal. If, on the other hand, you have complex calculations to perform with only a small portion of your job being list management, then Excel is probably your best choice. Excel is usually used for paperwork calculations and simple data manipulation while Access is used for storing information that can be accessed by a lot of people at the same time and for complex data management. 

Keep in mind, however, that the two programs integrate beautifully! It is easy to import data from Access into Excel or to take Excel information into an Access database file. Sometimes, the best data solution is a combination of both programs—Excel to perform the calculations and Access to perform the list management tasks.

The Business Office Systems and Support department offers courses in Microsoft Office Access.  For additional information contact Becky Jones, Associate Dean, at bjones@dcccd.edu or 972-238-6215.