Table Basics

If you’re new to Microsoft Access, you’ll need to learn the basics of working with tables so that you can open, navigate, add information, and edit them.

To Open an Existing Table:

  1. Open your database and locate the Navigation Pane.
  2. In the Navigation Pane, locate the table you would like to open. Tables are marked with the s icon.
  3. Double-click the name of the table. It will open and appear as a tab in the Document Tabs bar.
Open Table

Understanding Tables

All tables are composed of horizontal rows and vertical columns, with small rectangles called cells in the places where rows and columns intersect. In Access, rows and columns are referred to as records and fields.

Record and Field Labe

Records, fields, and cells in an Access table

A field is a way of organizing information by type. Think of the field name as a question, and every cell within that field as a response to that question.

Field Names

A record is one unit of information. Every cell on a given row is part of that row’s record. Each record has its ownID number. Within a table, each ID number is unique to its record, and refers to all the information within that record. The ID number for a record cannot be changed.


Each cell of data in your table is part of both a field and a record. For instance, if you had a table of names and contact information, each person would be represented by a record, and each piece of information about them‚Äîtheir name, phone number, address, and so on‚Äîwould be contained within a distinct field on that record’s row.

Click the buttons in the interactive below to learn how to navigate a table.


Navigating Within Tables

To navigate through records in a table, you can use the up and down arrow keys, scroll up and down, or use the arrows in the record navigation bar located at the bottom of your table. You can also find any record in the currently open table by searching for it using the record search box. Simply place your cursor in the search box, type any word that appears in the record you would like to find, and press the enter key. To view additional records that match your search, press enter again.

Rec Nav

To navigate between fields, you can use the left and right arrow keys or scroll left and right.