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Introduction

Introduction

IN THIS INTRODUCTION

What's in the Book

This Book's Special Features

Microsoft Access is a large, intimidating program. Unlike Word or Excel, where you can perform basic tasks without much in the way of training, Access presents challenges from the outset. Most users never progress beyond creating simple tables and using wizards to create basic forms and reports. At the same time, all users—from managers to researchers to administrative assistants—need information and know that what they seek is embedded somewhere in their Access tables. Without a more sophisticated knowledge of how to extract and present that data, they are forced to rely on office gurus and overworked IT people to provide canned reports or one-size-fits-all solutions.

This book will change all that by giving you the skills required to extract the data you need (queries), build efficient front-ends for that data (forms), and publish the results in an attractive and easy-to-read format (reports). To that end, this book shuns the big Access picture and instead focuses intently on queries, forms, and reports. This in-depth approach gives you the skills and understanding you need to get at the data and prove the old saying that knowledge is indeed power. And this book does all that with no-nonsense, step-by-step tutorials and lots of practical, useful examples aimed directly at business users.

Even if you've never been able to get Access to do much beyond storing data in simple tables, you'll still find this book to your liking. I show you how to build useful, powerful queries, forms, and reports from the ground up, so no experience with these aspects of Access is necessary.

What's in the Book

This book isn't meant to be read from cover to cover, although you're certainly free to do just that if the mood strikes you. Instead, most of the chapters are set up as self-contained units that you can dip into at will to extract whatever nuggets of information you need. However, if you're a relatively new Access user, I suggest starting the first one or two chapters in each of the book's three main sections to ensure you have a thorough grounding in the fundamentals of Access queries, forms, and reports.

The book is divided into three main parts. To give you the big picture before diving in, here's a summary of what you'll find in each part:

Part I, Creating Powerful Queries: The six chapters in Part I give you a thorough grounding in the features and uses of Access queries. After learning some query fundamentals in Chapter 1, “Creating a Basic Query,” you move on to understanding criteria expressions, multiple-table queries, totals, parameter, and action queries, PivotTable queries, and SQL statements.

Part II, Creating Forms: The five chapters in Part II show you how to build efficient and useful forms for inputting and editing data. Chapter 7, “Creating and Using a Form,” and Chapter 8, “Working with Form Controls,” give you the basic form know-how you need. From there, you learn about using data validation to ensure data entry accuracy, learn how to design forms for the business environment, and learn how to create specialized forms such as switchboards, dialog boxes, and startup screens.

Part III, Designing and Customizing Reports: The four chapters in Part III tell you everything you need to know to create attractive and practical reports. Chapter 12, “Creating and Publishing a Report,” gives you the basics, and the subsequent chapters add to your knowledge by showing you the fundamentals of good report design and how to build advanced reports.

This Book's Special Features

Microsoft Access 2003 Forms, Reports, and Queries is designed to give you the information you need without making you wade through ponderous explanations and interminable technical background. To make your life easier, this book includes various features and conventions that help you get the most out of the book and Access itself.

Steps: Throughout the book, each Access task is summarized in step-by-step procedures.

Things you type: Whenever I suggest that you type something, what you type appears in a bold mono font.

Commands: I use the following style for Access menu commands: File, Open. This means that you pull down the File menu and select the Open command.

Dialog box controls: Dialog box controls have strikethrough accelerator keys: Close.

This book also uses the following boxes to draw your attention to important (or merely interesting) information.

NOTE

The Note box presents asides that give you more information about the topic under discussion. These tidbits provide extra insights that give you a better understanding of the task at hand.


TIP

The Tip box tells you about Access methods that are easier, faster, or more efficient than the standard methods.


CAUTION

The all-important Caution box tells you about potential accidents waiting to happen. There are always ways to mess things up when you're working with computers. These boxes help you avoid at least some of the pitfalls.


→ These cross-reference elements point you to related material elsewhere in the book.


CASE STUDY

You'll find these case studies throughout the book, and they're designed to take what you've learned and apply it to projects and real-world examples.

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