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Importing Data from Databases

Excel allows the user to create connections to a variety of data sources. You’ve already seen how to create a connection to a text fi le; now you’ll learn how to create a connection to a database fi le. A database is a program that stores and retrieves large amounts of data and creates reports describing that data. Excel can retrieve data stored in most database programs, including Microsoft® Access, Borland dBase®, Borland Paradox®, and Microsoft FoxPro®. Databases store information in tables, organized in rows and columns, much like a worksheet.

Each column of the table, called a field, stores information about a specific characteristic of a person, place, or thing. Each row, called a record, displays the collection of characteristics of a particular person, place, or thing. A database can contain several such tables; therefore, you need some way of relating information in one table to information in another.

You relate tables to one another by using common fields, which are the fields that are the same in each table. When you want to retrieve information from two tables linked by a common field, Excel matches the value of the field in one table with the same value of the field in the second table. Because the fi eld values match, a new table is created containing records from both tables. A large database can have many tables, and each table can have several fields and thousands of records, so you need a way to choose only the information that you most want to see.

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When you want to look only at specific information from a database, you create a database query. A database query is a question you ask about the data in the database. In response to your query, the database finds the records and fields that meet the requirements of your question and then extracts only that data.

When you query a database, you might want to extract only selected records. In this case, your query would contain criteria similar to the criteria you used earlier in selecting data from an Excel workbook.

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