If all you could do with a database was enter and flip through records, it would be no more useful than a stack of index cards. But databases also provide many capabilities to help you organize, view, find, and analyze your data.
Sorting. People seldom want to view their data in the order in which it was entered. Instead, you can sort a database by one or several fields, putting it in exactly the order you need at the momentwhether you want to flip through records in the new order or need to create an impressive report.
Sorting on the Last field arranges everyone by their last name. But people with the same last name aren't arranged in a usable order.
Sorting on the Last and First fields still puts people with the same last name together, but arranges them in a useful order. Last names that are the same are further sorted by first name.
Calculations. You can create fields that perform simple or complex calculations within each record to compute the total for an invoice, the number of days until a report is due, or the exact length of a phone call based on its starting and ending times. Database programs also provide built-in functions you can use to perform calculations, such as statistics, business math, extracting characters from text strings, and converting from one data type to another.
Scripts. To enable you to quickly and accurately perform repetitive, multi-step tasks, most database programs allow you to create scripts or macros. A script can perform a task as simple as switching to a Help layout or as complex as selecting a subset of records, sorting the database, printing the resulting report, and then restoring the data to its original order. The manner in which scripts are executed varies from one program to another.
Reports. One of the most important features of a database is its ability to generate reports. A custom report can be based on all or only selected data, include category groupings, and display a variety of summary statistics, such as counts, averages, subtotals, running totals, and grand totals.