Database Record: Definition & Explanation

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  • 0:04 What Is a Record?
  • 1:07 Records in the Database
  • 2:18 Example of Database Record
  • 3:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Martin Gibbs

Martin has 16 years experience in Human Resources Information Systems and has a PhD in Information Technology Management. He is an adjunct professor of computer science and computer programming.

This lesson covers the concept of a database record in a database application. In this lesson, the concept of a record will be defined, and an example will be provided for a database record.

What Is a Record?

We're not talking about an LP or a 45, nor a measure of a feat of strength. A record is simply a set of data stored in a table, for example, a customer record. A record in a database is an object that can contain one or more values. Groups of records are then saved in a table; the table defines the data that each record may contain. In a given database, there are multiple tables, each containing multiple records.

Think of the rows and columns of a typical spreadsheet. Rows are horizontal and go across the spreadsheet from left to right, whereas columns are vertical and flow down the worksheet. Since a new row creates a new entry in the table/spreadsheet, it is called a record. The same is true in a database: records are stored in rows that make up the table. The fields in the database are the columns.

A fancy word for a database record is a tuple. lessons on relational databases may use this term. Additionally, the column can be called an attribute, and the table or data set is a relation.

Records in the Database

Records provide a practical way to store and retrieve data from the database. Each record can have different kinds of data, and thus a single row could have several types of information. A customer record could contain an ID number, name, birth date, cell phone number, and email.

There is one exception to the above rule. A good database design should include a primary key for the table. This means that each record in the data set has one field that is unique among all records and that it can't be repeated. Tools like Microsoft Access let you easily set a field to be the primary key; this is usually a field that is auto-numbered (starting at 1) and keeps adding as you add rows/records to the table.

The term ''record'' can also be pronounced reCORD, meaning to save information/data. This is also a helpful means to identify a database record: It's a record, or the data, that has been reCORDed.

A group of records can be called a file, data set, or table. Microsoft Access and other database tools refer to these objects as tables: This lesson will refer to the collective group of records as a table.

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