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What Is a Database?

Simply put, a database is a program that manages a collection of information. What sets databases apart from other data management tools (like spreadsheets) is their ability to present that information in a variety of formats.

Access stores its data in tables, which are in turn made up of fields and records. A field is the basic unit of a database–it stores a particular piece of data. For instance, a bibliographic database might contain a table listing technology books. That table might have fields for each author's first name, last name, the book title, the ISBN, the copyright year, and the publisher. Fields correspond to the columns in a table (Figure 1.1). The rows in a table contain information about a single entity described by the table. In this case, each row, or record, describes a book (Figure 1.2).


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