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The way I learned about database normalization was to memorize the statement "The Key, The Whole Key, and Nothing but the Key, so help me Codd". I normally (get it?) take a database ddesign to third normal form and them go back and de-normalize it back to something that works for my requirements.
This makes a few data professionals nervous. They believe that you should always normalize and never bring it back from that level of normalization. I disagree - but I do go through the exercise of normalizing it first.
If you've never done this before, I show you how in the SQL Server Guide. There's also a free chapter avaiable from the book A Developer's Guide to Data Modeling for SQL Server: Covering SQL Server 2005 and 2008 by Eric Johnson and Joshua Jones.
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