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Access Queries

This is the first of a series of articles about the ins and outs of Access Queries. The word ‘query’ means, among other things, ‘to ask’ or ‘to inquire.’ At their simplest that’s what database queries do: they ask tables for information about their contents.

That sort of query is known as a Select Query. You create a query to select data from its storage location. As we will see, that in itself makes queries a pretty powerful tool. However, select queries are just one type of Access query. Here’s a list of the query types you can use in Access.

  • Select
  • Action Queries
    • Make Table
    • Append
    • Update
    • Delete
  • CrossTab
  • Union
  • Pass-Through
  • Data Definition

You may have heard that you should not store calculated results in a table. That is a general principle of good data design. So, in addition to inquiring about data or performing one of the functions described by the query type names listed, you can use queries to calculations on table data.

For most queries, Access has a visual designer that let’s you do a lot of the work visually by dragging and dropping. However, to create union, pass-through, and data definition queries, you will need to learn a little SQL. Don’t let the thought of learning SQL scare you off. All in good time but for now we will stick to the queries you can use the visual designer to create.

Keep in mind when you work with queries that a query never contains actual data. What a query contains are the instructions to retrieve data from tables or perform required actions on the data. You will see later how to read those instructions which, incidentally, are written in SQL Structured Query Language.

So that you can work along with the examples in this series of tutorial, copies of a sample database will be available to download from time to time.

Here’s an outline of the topics this series of tutorials will cover.

  • The Access Query Designer Window
  • Creating a Single Table Select Query
  • Creating a Multiple Table Select Query
  • Working With Joins
  • Query Criteria
  • Query Calculations
  • Crosstab Queries
  • Union Queries
  • Data Definition Queries

Access also has several Query Wizard that help you set up certain queries. The wizards are great tools for beginners and for quickly getting results. However they are limited to a pre-defined set of guidelines. For any serious Access query work, you need to be able to go beyond what a wizard can do for you and learn to create your own queries. Therefore we will not look at the wizards in this series of tutorials.

Next: The Access Query Designer Window.

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