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Choose between Access and Excel

One customer, several orders

Actions and repeated data need a relational structure.
Callout 1 The customer Hanari Carnes...
Callout 2 ...places an order on July 8...
Callout 3 ...and another on July 10. One customer, many actions. That kind of repetition needs a relational structure.

So how can you tell if you need a relational structure? By answering a few more questions:

  • First, do you have a lot of repeated data? For example, do you constantly enter the names of cities or states? If so, you can put that repeated data into another table and create a relational structure. Doing so can save you time and effort because you don't have to reenter the same information each time you create a new record.
  • Second, do you want to track actions or events? For example, do you want to track sales or customer complaints? Any time you want to track an action, a relational data structure usually works best.

If you find yourself answering no to those types of questions, or if you only have a small amount of data and you don't mind looking at repeated information, then feel free to use a flat structure.

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