Using Microsoft Excel as a Database

It's always a good idea to save money by making the best use of what you already have. We know many people who have used Excel as a simple database, usually for names and addresses. There are a few simple tricks that you can use to make such a database easier to use.

Normally you would arrange the information in columns with each record on a different row. The first row of the spreadsheet should contain the column (or field) titles, such as Name, Address, Telephone, Fax. It is a good idea to make these titles permanently visible. To do this select cell A2 then from the menus chose Window, Split and this will divide the worksheet into two parts. Next select Window, Freeze Panes. You will now find that the title row cannot be scrolled off the top of the screen and will provide a permanent reminder of what each column is for.

Searching your data can be done in a number of ways. The most obvious is to use the Data, Form... command which brings up a dialogue box. Clicking on the Criteria button will allow you to enter search conditions. This method works well but can be a bit cumbersome.

An alternative is to use a filter to display those records most relevant to your current need. From the menus select Data, Filter, AutoFilter. This will add a set of drop-down arrows, one to each title. When you want to search for something you can to so by clicking on the small arrow and either selecting the matching data value or click on [Custom...] which will display a dialogue box where you can enter your search conditions. You can combine conditions in different columns to refine your selection. To switch off the selection conditions click the drop-down arrow and select [All] from the list.


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