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Choosing Between Access and Excel by Microsoft


Over the years, computers have become an integral part of the business environment. This has been as a result of their efficiency, accuracy, and speed which has revolutionized the manner in which business is conducted. An integral part of computer systems is their ability to store and manipulate data. To achieve this, various programs are available. Two of the most popular data storage and manipulation programs are Access and Excel. This paper will provide a comprehensive review of the tutorial “choosing between Access and Excel” provided by Microsoft (2010). A report on the various concepts learned from the tutorial will also be provided.

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Review of Article

The tutorial “choosing between Access and Excel” provided by Microsoft (2010) expounds on the various capabilities of these two programs. A major point stressed by the tutorial is that the type of data that one wishes to store will dictate the program to be used. If a person wishes to store data in a relational data structure, Access is the preferred choice while if one wants to organize data in a flat structure Excel is a perfect choice. By definition, relational data structures split up information into several logical units which are stored in separate tables. Flat structures consist of single independent tables in which the data can be stored.

From the report, it is clear that when there are a lot of repetitions in data, Access can help save time and effort since one does not have to reenter the same information multiple times. The article also reveals that in cases where the data stored is going to change over time and reports are supposed to be generated, Access is the preferable option (Microsoft, 2010). The nature of the data (text or numeric) is also to be considered when selecting the program to use. This tutorial states that Access has a high storage capacity of up to 2GB. Excel on the other hand has a lower storage capacity but can perform sophisticated calculations on numbers.

The tutorial also reveals that the integrity of data is guaranteed by Access through the enforcement of some integrity rules (Microsoft, 2010). Through referential integrity, rules are established which data must adhere to to be stored. Access also has a set of valid values that can populate a given field in a table. Once a person sets these values, the attribute is restricted to the fieldset values allowed to be entered in the given field (Hennig et al, 2010). In addition to this, access necessitates that each record has a primary key entry. A user who fails to provide this will be given an error message and forced to provide one. Access also offers user-friendly forms that assist in inserting data into the program.

The strong mathematical capabilities of excel make it more applicable when analysis of data is a major requirement. Guerrero (2010) reveals that Excel provides the user with numerous tools which are specifically designed for data analysis. These tools can be applied to quantitative data to perform basic statistical analysis. Numerous commercially available functional programs can be obtained as add-ins. These can be loaded into Excel and sophisticated analysis carried out.

The tutorial concludes by stating that Excel enables data to be presented in visual formats. Using Excel, charts and graphs are easily constructed and modified using Excel and they can be displayed along with data for ease of visualization. The tutorial also states that more people are conversant with Excel than access and as such, more people may choose excel over access due to familiarity.

The article “Using Access or Excel to manage your data” by Microsoft (2007) reveals that both programs have their strengths. The article states that the two programs possess many similarities, but each program has its explicit advantages depending on the type of data that one wishes to manipulate. Microsoft (2007) states that one can gain the advantage of both programs by storing data in an Access database and then analyzing it using Excel.

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Lessons Learnt from the Tutorial

There are many valuable lessons I have learned from this tutorial. The first is that the strength of each program is relative to the particular need of the user. I have also learned that Access is better suited in the networked environment where multiple users are working simultaneously on the same data set. Another major thing I have learned is that Excel can carry out a sophisticated analysis which makes it a very powerful statistical tool.


This paper set out to comprehensively review the tutorial “choosing between Access and Excel” provided by Microsoft (2010). It has been highlighted that the tutorial shows that both programs have their major selling points. From this article, it is clear that each program has its inherent advantages and selecting which program to use greatly depends on the type of data that one wishes to manage. When a lot of data which modified frequently is to be stored, Access is the preferred choice. When the data is small and non-repetitive, Excel is the program of choice.


Guerrero, H. (2010). Excel Data Analysis: Modeling and Simulation. NY: Springer.

Hennig, T., et al. (2010). Microsoft Access Small Business Solutions: State-of-the-Art Database Models for Sales, Marketing, Customer Management, and More Key Business Activities. Boston: John Wiley and Sons.

Microsoft (2007). Using Access or Excel to Manage your Data. Web.

Microsoft (2010). Choosing between Access and Excel. Web.

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