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Chapter 6. Keeping Your Information Accu... > Using Lookup Lists to Restrict Data

Using Lookup Lists to Restrict Data

It is interesting how many different ways people can come up with to enter the same items of information in a database. Asked to enter the name of their home state, for example, residents of the state of Washington will type Washington, Wash, or WA, plus various typos and misspellings. If you ask a dozen sales clerks to enter the name of a specific product, customer, and shipper in an invoice, the probability that all of them will type the same thing is not very high. In cases like this, in which the number of correct choices is limited (to actual product name, actual customer, and actual shipper), providing the option to choose the correct answer from a list will improve your database’s consistency.


Minor inconsistencies in the way data is entered might not be really important to someone who later reads the information and makes decisions. Most people know that Arizona and AZ refer to the same state. But a computer is very literal, and if you tell it to create a list so that you can send catalogs to everyone living in AZ, the computer won’t include anyone whose state is listed in the database as Arizona.


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