Building Table Relationships

In Access table relationships bring important information together so you can analyze important data and create a strong Access database.

Relating tables

There are a few ways to establish relationships between tables:

Both methods give you the same end result, but the drag-and-drop method is much easier and saves you several steps.

To relate tables with the drag-and-drop method:

Understanding types of relationships

Access 2007 allows for several different types of relationships. These include:

The relationship type you will come across most frequently—and the one created in our bookstore scenario—is the One-to-Many relationship.


The One-to-Many relationship means data for that field will show up a single time in one table but many times in the related table.

For example, let's look at one of the book titles in our bookstore. The Book ID for the book should appear only once in the Books table because this table lists every title stocked in the store. But it will probably appear many times in the Orders table because we hope it gets ordered by many people many times.

The symbols for the One-to-Many relationship look like this:

One to Many RelationshipsOne to Many Relationships

Enforcing referential integrity

In the Edit Relationships dialog box, an option to Enforce Referential Integrity appears.

You should click Enforce Referential Integrity to make sure you never have an order for a book that doesn't appear in the Books table. Selecting this option tells Access to check for these things when someone is working with your data records.

Editing existing relationships

Access 2007 allows you to edit relationships that already exist. This can be done using the Edit Relationships command on the Ribbon. However, a much simpler way is to simply double-click the link that appears in the relationship map. Either method brings up the Edit Relationships dialog box, where you can change your settings.