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DATABASE MANAGEMENT

When you want to retrieve data from a database, you ask for the data by using Structured Query
Language, or SQL. SQL is a computer language that closely resembles English that database
programs understand. Knowing SQL is important because every query in Microsoft Access uses
SQL. Understanding how SQL works can help create better queries, and can make it easier for
you to fix a query when it is not returning the results that you want.

What is SQL?

SQL is a computer language for working with sets of facts and the relationships between them.
Relational database programs, such as Access, use SQL to work with data. Like many computer
languages, SQL is an international standard that is recognized by standards bodies such as ISO
and ANSI.

You use SQL to describe sets of data that can help you answer questions. When you use SQL,
you must use the correct syntax. Syntax is the set of rules by which the elements of a language
are correctly combined. SQL syntax is based on English syntax, and uses many of the same
elements as Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) syntax.

For example, a simple SQL statement that retrieves a list of last names for contacts whose first
name is Mary might resemble this:

SELECT Last_Name
FROM Contacts
WHERE First_Name = 'Mary';
SELECT statements
To describe a set of data by using SQL, you write a SELECT statement. A SELECT statement
contains a complete description of a set of data that you want to obtain from a database. This
includes the following:

What tables contain the data.

How data from different sources is related.

Which fields or calculations will produce the data.

Criteria that data must match to be included.

Whether and how to sort the results.

SQL clauses
Like a sentence, a SQL statement has clauses. Each clause performs a function for the SQL
statement. Some clauses are required in a SELECT statement. The following table lists the most
common SQL clauses.

SQL
What it does Required
clause

SELECT Lists the fields that contain data of interest. Yes

Lists the tables that contain the fields listed in the SELECT
FROM Yes
clause.

Specifies field criteria that must be met by each record to be


WHERE No
included in the results.

ORDER Specifies how to sort the results. No


SQL
What it does Required
clause

BY

GROUP In a SQL statement that contains aggregate functions, lists fields Only if there are
BY that are not summarized in the SELECT clause. such fields

In a SQL statement that contains aggregate functions, specifies


HAVING conditions that apply to fields that are summarized in the SELECT No
statement.

SQL terms
Each SQL clause is composed of terms comparable to parts of speech. The following table
lists types of SQL terms.

Comparable part
SQL term Definition Example
of speech

A name that you use to identify a database Customers.[Phone


identifier noun
object, such as the name of a field. Number]

A keyword that represents an action or


operator verb or adverb AS
modifies an action.

A value that does not change, such as a


constant noun 42
number or NULL.

A combination of identifiers, operators,


>= Products.[Unit
expression adjective constants, and functions that evaluates to a
Price]
single value.

Basic SQL clauses: SELECT, FROM, and WHERE


A SQL statement takes the general form:

SELECT field_1
FROM table_1
WHERE criterion_1
;
Notes:

Access ignores line breaks in a SQL statement. However, consider using a line for each
clause to help improve the readability of your SQL statements for yourself and others.

Every SELECT statement ends with a semi-colon (;). The semi-colon can appear at the
end of the last clause or on a line by itself at the end of the SQL statement.

An example in Access
The following illustrates what a SQL statement for a simple select query might look like in
Access:
1. SELECT clause

2. FROM clause

3. WHERE clause

This example SQL statement reads "Select the data that is stored in the fields named E-mail
Address and Company from the table named Contacts, specifically those records in which the
value of the field City is Seattle."

Let's look at the example, one clause at a time, to see how SQL syntax works.

The SELECT clause


SELECT [E-mail Address], Company

This is the SELECT clause. It consists of an operator (SELECT) followed by two identifiers ([E-
mail Address] and Company).

If an identifier contains spaces or special characters (such as "E-mail Address"), it must be


enclosed in square brackets.

A SELECT clause does not have to say which tables contain the fields, and it cannot specify any
conditions that must be met by the data to be included.

The SELECT clause always appears in front of the FROM clause in a SELECT statement.

The FROM clause


FROM Contacts

This is the FROM clause. It consists of an operator (FROM) followed by an identifier (Contacts).

A FROM clause does not list the fields to be selected.

The WHERE clause


WHERE City="Seattle"

This is the WHERE clause. It consists of an operator (WHERE) followed by an expression


(City="Seattle").

Note: Unlike the SELECT and FROM clauses, the WHERE clause is not a required element of a
SELECT statement.

You can accomplish many of the actions that SQL enables you to do by using SELECT, FROM,
and WHERE clauses

Sorting the results: ORDER BY


Like Microsoft Office Excel, Access lets you sort query results in a datasheet. You can also
specify in the query how you want to sort the results when the query is run, by using an ORDER
BY clause. If you use an ORDER BY clause, it is the last clause in the SQL statement.
An ORDER BY clause contains a list of the fields that you want to use for sorting, in the same
order that you want to apply the sort operations.

For example, suppose that you want your results sorted first by the value of the field Company in
descending order, and if there are records with the same value for Company sorted next by
the values in the field E-mail Address in ascending order. Your ORDER BY clause would
resemble the following:

ORDER BY Company DESC, [E-mail Address]

Note: By default, Access sorts values in ascending order (A-Z, smallest to largest). Use the
DESC keyword to sort values in descending order instead.

Working with summarized data: GROUP BY and HAVING


Sometimes you want to work with summarized data, such as the total sales in a month, or the
most expensive items in an inventory. To do this, you apply an aggregate function to a field in
your SELECT clause. For example, if you want your query to show the count of e-mail addresses
listed for each company, your SELECT clause might resemble the following:

SELECT COUNT([E-mail Address]), Company

The aggregate functions that you can use depend on the type of data that is in the field or
expression that you want to use.

Specifying fields that are not used in an aggregate function: The GROUP BY clause
When you use aggregate functions, you usually must also create a GROUP BY clause. A
GROUP BY clause lists all the fields to which you do not apply an aggregate function. If you
apply aggregate functions to all the fields in a query, you do not have to create the GROUP BY
clause.

A GROUP BY clause immediately follows the WHERE clause, or the FROM clause if there is
no WHERE clause. A GROUP BY clause lists the fields as they appear in the SELECT clause.

For example, continuing the previous example, if your SELECT clause applies an aggregate
function to [E-mail Address] but not to Company, your GROUP BY clause would resemble the
following:

GROUP BY Company

Limiting aggregate values by using group criteria: the HAVING clause


If you want to use criteria to limit your results, but the field that you want to apply criteria to is
used in an aggregate function, you cannot use a WHERE clause. Instead, you use a HAVING
clause. A HAVING clause works like a WHERE clause, but is used for aggregated data.

For example, suppose that you use the AVG function (which calculates an average value) with
the first field in your SELECT clause:

SELECT COUNT([E-mail Address]), Company

If you want the query to restrict the results based on the value of that COUNT function, you
cannot use a criteria for that field in the WHERE clause. Instead, you put the criteria in a
HAVING clause. For example, if you only want the query to return rows if there are more than
one e-mail addresses associated with the company, the HAVING clause might resemble the
following:

HAVING COUNT([E-mail Address])>1


Note: A query can have a WHERE clause and a HAVING clause criteria for fields that are not
used in an aggregate function go in the WHERE clause, and criteria for fields that are used with
aggregate functions go in the HAVING clause.

Combining query results: UNION


When you want to review all the data that is returned by several similar select queries together,
as a combined set, you use the UNION operator.

The UNION operator lets you combine two SELECT statements into one. The SELECT
statements that you combine must have the same number of output fields, in the same order, and
with the same or compatible data types. When you run the query, data from each set of
corresponding fields is combined into one output field, so that the query output has the same
number of fields as each of the select statements.

Note: For the purposes of a union query, the Number and Text data types are compatible.

When you use the UNION operator, you can also specify whether the query results should
include duplicate rows, if any exist, by using the ALL key word.

The basic SQL syntax for a union query that combines two SELECT statements is as follows:

SELECT field_1
FROM table_1
UNION [ALL]
SELECT field_a
FROM table_a
;
For example, suppose that you have a table named Products and another table named Services.
Both tables have fields that contain the name of the product or service, the price, warranty or
guarantee availability, and whether you offer the product or service exclusively. Although the
Products table stores warranty information, and the Services table stores guarantee information,
the basic information is the same (whether a particular product or service includes a promise of
quality). You can use a union query, such as the following, to combine the four fields from the
two tables:

SELECT name, price, warranty_available, exclusive_offer


FROM Products
UNION ALL
SELECT name, price, guarantee_available, exclusive_offer
FROM Services
;
More about the SELECT clause
In a SELECT statement, the SELECT clause lists the fields that contain data that you want to
use.

Use square brackets to enclose identifiers


You can use square brackets to enclose the name of a field in a SELECT clause. If the name does
not contain any spaces or special characters (such as punctuation marks), the square brackets are
optional. If the name does contain spaces or special characters, you must use the brackets.

Tip: A name that contains spaces is easier to read and can save you time when you design forms
and reports, but may end up making you type more when you write SQL statements. You should
consider this fact when you name objects in your database.
If your SQL statement has two or more fields that have the same name, you must add the name
of each field's data source to the field name in the SELECT clause. You use the same name for
the data source that you use in the FROM clause.

Select all fields


When you want to include all the fields from a data source, you can either list all the fields
individually in the SELECT clause, or you can use the asterisk wildcard character (*). When you
use the asterisk, Access determines when the query is run what fields the data source contains,
and includes all those fields in the query. This helps make sure that the query stays up-to-date if
new fields are added to the data source.

You can use the asterisk with one or more data sources in a SQL statement. If you use the
asterisk and there are multiple data sources, you must include the data source name together with
the asterisk, so that Access can determine which data source to include all fields from.

For example, suppose you want to select all the fields from the Orders table but only the e-mail
address from the Contacts table. Your SELECT clause might resemble this:

SELECT Orders.*, Contacts.[E-mail Address]

Note: Keep track of when you use the asterisk. If new fields are later added to the data source
and you did not plan for them, your query results might not turn out as you want.

Select distinct values


If you know that your statement will select redundant data, and you would rather see only
distinct values, you can use the DISTINCT keyword in your SELECT clause. For example,
suppose that your customers each represent several different interests, some of which use the
same telephone number. If you want to make sure that you only see each telephone number once,
your SELECT clause appears as follows:

SELECT DISTINCT [txtCustomerPhone]

Use substitute names for fields or expressions: the AS keyword


You can change the label that is displayed for any field in datasheet view by using the AS
keyword and a field alias in your SELECT clause. A field alias is a name that you assign to a
field in a query to make the results easier to read. For example, if you want to select data from a
field named txtCustPhone, and the field contains customer telephone numbers, you could
improve the readability of your results by using a field alias in your SELECT statement, as
follows:

SELECT [txtCustPhone] AS [Customer Phone]

Note: You must use a field alias when you use an expression in a SELECT clause.

Select by using an expression


Sometimes, you want to look at calculations based on your data, or retrieve only part of a field's
data. For example, suppose that you want to return the year that customers were born, based on
data in the BirthDate field in your database. Your SELECT clause might resemble the following:

SELECT DatePart("yyyy",[BirthDate]) AS [Birth Year]

This expression consists of the DatePart function and two arguments "yyyy" (a constant), and
[BirthDate] (an identifier).

You can use any valid expression as a field, if the expression outputs a single value when given a
single input value.

More about the FROM clause


In a SELECT statement, the FROM clause specifies the tables or queries that contain the data
that the SELECT clause will use.

Suppose that you want to know the telephone number of a specific customer. Assuming that the
table that contains the field that stores this data is called tblCustomer, the FROM clause would
resemble the following:

FROM tblCustomer

Use square brackets to enclose identifiers


You can use square brackets to enclose the name. If the name does not contain any spaces or
special characters (such as punctuation marks), the square brackets are optional. If the name does
contain spaces or special characters, you must use the brackets.

Tip: A name that contains spaces is easier to read and can save you time when you design forms
and reports, but may end up making you type more when you write SQL statements. You should
consider this fact when you name objects in your database.

Use substitute names for data sources


You can use a different name to refer to a data source in a SELECT statement by using a table
alias in your FROM clause. A table alias is a name that you assign to a data source in a query
when you use an expression as a data source, or to make the SQL statement easier to type and
read. This can be especially useful if the name of the data source is long or difficult to type,
especially when there are multiple fields that have the same name from different tables.

For example, if you want to select data from two fields, both named ID, one of which comes
from the table tblCustomer and the other from the table tblOrder, your SELECT clause might
resemble the following:

SELECT [tblCustomer].[ID], [tblOrder].[ID]

By using table aliases in your FROM clause, you could make the query easier to type. Your
FROM clause, with table aliases, might resemble the following:

FROM [tblCustomer] AS [C], [tblOrder] AS [O]

You could then use those table aliases in your SELECT clause, as follows:

SELECT [C].[ID], [O].[ID]

Note: When you use a table alias, you can refer to the data source in your SQL statement by
using the alias or by using the full name of the data source.

Join related data


When you need a way to combine pairs of records from two data sources into single records in a
query result, you can perform a join. A join is a SQL operation that specifies how two data
sources are related, and whether data from one source should be included if there is no
corresponding data from the other source.

To combine the information from two data sources, you perform a join operation on the field that
they have in common. When the values stored in this field match, the data from the records is
combined in the results.

In addition to combining data, you also use a join to specify whether to include records from
either table if there is no corresponding record in the related table.

For example, suppose you want to use data from two tables in a query: tblCustomer and tblOrder.
The two tables both have a field, CustomerID, that identifies a customer. Each record in the
tblCustomer table may have one or more corresponding records in the tblOrder table, and the
corresponding values can be determined by values in the CustomerID field.

If you want to join the tables so that the query combines the records from the tables, excluding
records from either table if there is no corresponding record in ther other table, your FROM
clause might resemble the following (line break added here for readability):

FROM [tblCustomer] INNER JOIN [tblOrder]


ON [tblCustomer].[CustomerID]=[tblOrder].[CustomerID]
In Microsoft Office Access, joins occur in the FROM clause of a SELECT statement. There are
two types of joins: inner joins and outer joins. The following sections explain these two types of
joins.

Inner joins
Inner joins are the most common type of join. When a query with an inner join is run, the only
records that are included in the query results are those records where a common value exists in
both of the joined tables.

An inner join has the following syntax (line break added here for readability):

FROM table1 INNER JOIN table2


ON table1.field1 compopr table2.field2
The following table describes the different parts of an INNER JOIN operation.

Part Description

table1,
The names of the tables from which records are combined.
table2

The names of the fields that are joined. If they are not numeric, the fields must be of
field1,
the same data type and contain the same kind of data, but they do not have to have
field2
the same name.

compopr Any relational comparison operator: "=," "<," ">," "<=," ">=," or "<>."

Outer joins
Outer joins are similar to inner joins because they tell a query how to combine information from
two sources. They are different because they also specify whether to include data where no
common value exists. Outer joins are directional: you can specify whether to include all the
records from the first data source specified in the join (called a left join), or to include all the
records from the second data source in the join (called a right join).

An outer join has the following syntax:

FROM table1 [ LEFT | RIGHT ] JOIN table2


ON table1.field1compopr table2.field2

The following table describes the different parts of LEFT JOIN and RIGHT JOIN operations.

Part Description

table1,
The names of the tables from which records are combined.
table2

field1, The names of the fields that are joined. The fields must be of the same data type and
field2 contain the same kind of data, but they do not have to have the same name.

compopr Any relational comparison operator: "=," "<," ">," "<=," ">=," or "<>."
More about the WHERE clause
When you want to use data to limit the number of records that are returned in a query, you use
query criteria in the WHERE clause of a SELECT statement. A query criterion is similar to a
formula it is a string that may consist of field references, operators, and constants. Query
criteria are a type of expression.

The following table shows some sample criteria and explains how they work.

Criteria Description

This criterion applies to a Number field, such as Price or UnitsInStock. It


>25 and <50 includes only those records where the field contains a value greater than
25 and less than 50.

DateDiff ("yyyy", This criterion applies to a Date/Time field, such as BirthDate. Only
[BirthDate], Date()) > records where the number of years between a person's birth date and
30 today's date is greater than 30 are included in the query result.

This criterion can be applied to any kind of field to show records where
Is Null
the field value is null.

As the previous table illustrates, criteria can look very different from each other depending on
the data type of the field to which the criteria apply and your specific requirements. Some criteria
are simple, and use basic operators and constants. Others are complex, and use functions and
special operators, and include field references.

Important: If a field is used with an aggregate function, you cannot specify criteria for that field
in a WHERE clause. Instead, you use a HAVING clause to specify criteria for aggregated fields.
For more information, see the section Working with summarized data: GROUP BY and
HAVING.

WHERE clause syntax


A WHERE clause has the following basic syntax:

WHERE field = criterion

For example, suppose that you want the telephone number of a customer, but you only remember
that the customer's last name is Bagel. Instead of looking at all the telephone numbers in your
database, you could use a WHERE clause to limit the results and make it easier to find the
telephone number that you want. Assuming that last names are stored in a field that is named
LastName, your WHERE clause appears as follows:

WHERE [LastName]='Bagel'

Note: You do not have to base the criteria in your WHERE clause on the equivalence of values.
You can use other comparison operators, such as greater than (>) or less than (<). For example,
WHERE [Price]>100.

Use the WHERE clause to combine data sources


Sometimes you may want to combine data sources based on fields that have matching data, but
have different data types. For example, a field in one table may have a Number data type, and
you want to compare that field to a field in another table that has a Text data type.

You cannot create a join between fields that have different data types. To combine data from two
data sources based on values in fields that have different data types, you create a WHERE clause
that uses one field as a criterion for the other field, by using the LIKE keyword.
For example, suppose that you want to use data from table1 and table2, but only when the data in
field1 (a text field in table1) matches the data in field2 (a number field in table2). Your WHERE
clause would resemble the following:

WHERE field1 LIKE field2


How to Use SQL with Microsoft Access
Access is designed as a rapid application development (RAD) tool that does not require
programming. You can write and execute SQL statements in Access, but you have to use a back-
door method to do it. To open a basic editor where you can enter SQL code, follow these steps:

1. Open your database and click the CREATE tab.


This will display the ribbon across the top of the window.

2. Click Query Design in the Queries section.


The Show Table dialog box appears.

3. Select the POWER table. Click the Add button and then click the Close
button to close the dialog box.
A picture of the POWER table and its attributes appears in the upper part of the work area and a
Query By Example (QBE) grid appears below it. Access expects you to enter a query now by
using the QBE grid. (You could do that, sure, but it wouldnt tell you anything about how to use
SQL in the Access environment.)

4. Click the Home tab and then the View icon in the left corner of the
Ribbon.
A menu drops down, displaying the different views available to you in query mode.

One of those views is SQL View.

5. Click SQL View to display the SQL View Object tab.


The SQL View Object tab has made the (very rational) assumption that you want to retrieve
some information from the POWER table, so it has written the first part for you. It doesnt know
exactly what you want to retrieve, so it displays only the part it feels confident about.

Heres what its written so far:

SELECT
FROM POWER ;
6. Fill in an asterisk (*) in the blank area in the first line and add a WHERE
clause after the FROM line.
If you had already entered some data into the POWER table, you could make a retrieval with
something like:

SELECT *
FROM POWER
WHERE LastName = 'Marx' ;
Be sure the semicolon (;) is the last thing in the SQL statement. You need to move it down from
just after POWER to the end of the next line down.

7. When youre finished, click the Save icon.


Access asks you for a name for the query you have just created.

8. Enter a name and then click OK.


Your statement is saved and can be executed as a query later.