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Planning Retirement Online

You can do IT in later life - 22

You can do IT is a regular feature of aimed at trying to help laterlife visitors make the most of Information Technology on or off the web.

Jackie Sherman who runs the You can do IT Question & Answer section is an IT trainer and author. Jackie has spent her career in education and specialises in teaching IT to adults. Her courses for adults include such topics as MS Office, the Internet, e-mail and basic web page authoring. Getting the most from your computer.jpg (5543 bytes)

Jackie has also written the two books shown here - you can find more details about these by clicking on the cover images above. Jackie has also been running a course specifically for over 50s.


Via Jackie aims to particularly help those new to IT and the web to build up knowledge and confidence, so no question is too basic. At the same time she will cover Q&As for the more experienced user. 

So if you would like to ask a question of Jackie, why not email her

or if you have discovered something which may be of interest to others in making the most of the web, then she would love to hear about that too

Q:  I need to use databases in my work but can’t seem to get to grips with searching. Can you give me some basic advice.

A:  As you will know, databases are used to store information about people or items and any complete entry is known as a record. The most common database software is Access, and this allows you to carry out two different types of search when looking for specific records: Filters or Queries. So how do they work?:

a. When you filter an open table of records, you are simply filtering OUT records temporarily that don’t meet your criteria. What is left is a subset of records, displaying all the details you have entered in the same format as the original table. You can print out or copy these details, but the filter will be lost when you close the table.

b. A query is created when the table is closed, and can be named and saved to run again and again. Decisions you can make when designing a query include:

  • which fields (categories of information) to display; and
  • in which order to display this information.

c. For either a filter or a query, you must decide which fields to search (e.g. Eyes, Price, Date or Surname), and what entries you are hoping to match. Examples can be identical entries (such as all records of people with blue Eyes) or an expression that may be based on logical statements or calculations (such as any Price greater than 3, or Surnames beginning with P).

d. Expressions have to be entered in a form understood by Access e.g. greater than 3 is written >3 and beginning with P is written P*.

e. When searching, the resultant records can be sorted for any field e.g. alphabetically by Surname or in descending order of Price.

Common mistakes when searching:

1) If filtering by form, you may leave an old expression still displayed in the form that will render a subsequent search invalid. For example, after searching for people with blue eyes, you may want to find people whose surnames begin with P but forget to remove the word blue from the Eyes box. This will mean you only search for people with blue eyes whose names begin with P and there may be no relevant records in the database.

2) When querying, you must type the criteria yourself. If you include a spelling mistake, the query will not work e.g. no-one will be found who has bloe eyes. If you do not use accepted expressions, you will also find the query does not work.

3) In queries, you must add only one example of the table you are searching. If you select tables more than once from the Show Table window, you will find the resultant search displays repeated entries for some of the fields.

4) When designing your original table, you MUST take care with Datatypes. If searching for records where the Price is more than 3, or the Date is after 19 July, no calculations can be performed if the Price or Date Datatypes were left as Text.

Q: I sometimes find I am missing the common toolbar buttons e.g. for saving or centre alignment. How can I get them back?

A:  You can display as many toolbars as you like when you work, and can add or hide them at any time. If the basic Formatting or printing/saving etc. toolbar (known as the Standard) are missing, go to View - Toolbars. On the list that is displayed, click next to any toolbar name to add it, or click off a tick to remove it. When you return to your work, all selected toolbars should now be visible.

If you are unlucky, you may find a toolbar has arrived on top of another one. In this case, try gently to move the top toolbar with your mouse to reveal the one underneath. The pointer should show a 4-way arrow at the left edge of a toolbar to allow you to move it.

Also, if a toolbar appears as a box on the screen, drag the blue title bar up or down to just outside your main working area, let go and it should drop into place.

For even more control, select Toolbars - Customize. You can now click the Commands tab and browse through the toolbars in the left window to view the associated buttons. For any extra commands you want to have available, use your mouse to click and drag the button out of the box onto a convenient toolbar.




View previous editions of YoucandoIT for more useful Questions and Answers

Click on a book or magazine image above or below to see full details.




For a wealth of books on the web and IT generally, visit Amazon and under the books section select Computers and Internet.

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