Fields and records are two basic components of a database, which is an organized collection of information, or data. The term “fields” refers to columns, or vertical categories of data. The term “records” refers to the rows, or horizontal groupings of field data. Examples of both database components can be seen in old print databases as well as modern computer-aided databases.
Some common examples of databases are a phone book, a library catalog, or the search engine on a sales website. A database is normally constructed in a table format with rows and columns. For example, a phone book has a last name, a first name, an address, and a phone number for each entry. These categories form the “columns” of the database. Each entry in the telephone list has a unique identifying quality, which is the name of the person. Each entry by name in the phone book forms a row, containing unique data in each of these four columns.
Role of databases
The databases are organized into fields and records to make them easy to access. To find a phone number in the phone book, you simply have to find the person’s name, which is unique. When you’ve found it, the correct phone number will be in the “phone number” column in the same row. Most databases follow this basic organization and functional principles.
In the telephone listing example, the four categories of data for the last name, first name, address, and phone number are called “fields.” A field is a simple unit of data that is unique within the entry or row, but the general data category is common to all entries. For example, “address” is a common field to all named entries in the phone book, but the content of the address field will be unique for each entry. As a rule, the database field refers to the columns, or categories of data, that are used by all entries or rows.
A record is a row in a database, a horizontal grouping of data. The content of these fields is unique to that row. In the phone book example, each last name begins a row or record that contains data in the first name, address, and phone number fields. A record is often used in a database search because each record has a unique identifying quality (or value). A database record is basically a row that contains unique data in each of the fields. A database will normally have a large number of records but only a small number of fields.