What is a Table in Microsoft Access?

By Francine Richards

Microsoft Access is a software application that is used to create databases. MS Access is packaged with Microsoft Office Suite, but can be purchased separately. MS Access databases store data in tables and can exist as a single file that allows for basic data storage and retrieval. Each database file is made of up objects including tables, queries, forms and reports.


Databases serve the function of data collection, management and storage. MS Access databases are used for personal and/or business often for data storage of address books, customer information, mailing lists or inventory lists. Recall of the database content is intuitive and can be queried, printed or published to the Internet.


MS Access tables are the key objects in the Access file, as they contain the data that is stored in the database. Tables are made up of rows and columns and allow for direct data entry into their grids. The row is the record that contains the individual data pieces making up an individual record. The columns, also referred to as fields, consist of categorized information. For example, the fields are columns consisting of categorized information such as telephone numbers. The row is the record where the phone number is entered. Data is sortable and can be filtered. Data from Excel can be imported or cut and pasted into an Access table. One file may contain multiple tables, which can be linked through queries, reports and forms.

Table Creation

There are several ways to create a table: in design view, using a template or wizard, or by entering data. The user chooses the method they want to use by highlighting it and selecting “Open” in the file’s object box. Once a table is created, the user can enter data into the table. After entering the first record and hitting the "Enter" button, the next line will appear for data entry of a second record and so on. Once data entry is completed, the user will close the table as they would any window. The table is saved under "Objects" and "Table" in the file's object list. Upon opening the file, the object list will always appear.

Table Wizard and Templates

Depending on the version of MS Access, using a wizard or template is the easiest way to create a table that is ready for data entry. In MS Access 2007, table templates are empty tables that can be used as-is or customized as necessary. Templates include Contacts, Tasks, Issues, Events, and Assets. The contact table sets up a database for contact information such as mailing lists and phone numbers. Columns are easily created by dragging from a list of suggested fields. In MS Access 2003 and earlier, wizards are a feature that guides the user from start to finish in creating the desired object. In just a few clicks you can create a table that is ready for data entry. Though the table fields in the wizard are predefined, the user has the ability to change them while using the wizard and after the table has been created.

Table Customization

MS Access allows the user to customize the fields, data, and formatting within a table. The user has the ability to format table font, row height, column width, freeze and/or hide columns. The user has the ability to modify key table elements such as renaming table fields and editing table records on the fly from almost anywhere in the application.