Developing your own database to use for searches is not as complicated as you might think.  If you have Microsoft Excel on your laptop or desktop computer, you already have the main tool you need to get the job done.  If you have the full Microsoft Office suite, it will include Microsoft Access, which is their database program. While it's not that hard to get the hang of, it isn't necessary to master Access in order to have a functional database that you can use.

 

To get started, enter the labels that describe your data on row 1 of the spreadsheet. These labels can be name, address, or anything else that you need or want to keep track of and have search capabilities for. Each row after these labels will now define a database record.

Next, click on the header of row 2, and switch to the View Tab in the Excel ribbon. Now, find the Freeze Panes item. There is an arrow below it that you will need to click and that will reveal a drop-down menu. On this menu, select Freeze Top Row. This makes your header always visible no matter where you scroll on the document.

Now you are free to enter as many records as you wish. It can be as few as two, or as many as 10,000.  It doesn't matter since the functionality will be the same. You can use the arrow keys to browse through your entries and use the Enter key to confirm that you have entered an individual record.

Next, find the button that is defined by the intersection of row and column headings on the top left hand corner of the spreadsheet. Click on it. This “Select All” button will select all of the records or cells contained in your spreadsheet. Now switch to the Data tab in the MS Excel ribbon. Find the Sort and Filter Group and click on the Filter button.

Find the arrow at the right of the column headings in order to have access to the filtering options menu for that specific column. Here is where you can sort the data in either ascending or descending order.  You can also use text or number filters to display only those records with values that meet the criteria you are searching for.

Now uncheck the box that lies in front of the “Select All” for the current column in the list of values. You may now activate the check box to filter your data if you wish, and search for specific values in your records.

 

So there you have it – a functional database that can be used to add records, and it can be used to search for specific values in existing records though the filter function.  This database will work very well for a large number of records, though the performance may start slowing down once you accumulate several thousand records. 

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