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Relationships: Your Key to Data Integrity in Access

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This sample chapter introduces relational database design. It explains how to establish relationships in Access and how to build referential integrity. The benefits of relationships are analyzed, and relationships and indexes are examined.

Why This Chapter Is Important

A relationship exists between two tables when one or more key fields from one table are matched to one or more key fields in another table. The fields in both tables usually have the same name, data type, and size. Relationships are a necessary by-product of the data normalization process. Data normalization was introduced in Chapter 1, "Access as a Development Tool" it is covered in additional detail in this chapter. Normalization is the process of eliminating duplicate information from your system by splitting information into several tables, each containing a unique value (primary key). Although data normalization brings many benefits, you need to relate your application's tables to each other so that your users can view the data in the system as a single entity. After you define relationships between tables, you can build queries, forms, reports, and data access pages that combine information from multiple tables. In this way, you can reap all the benefits of data normalization while ensuring that your system provides users with all the information they need.

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