Using MS Access/Non normalized Databases


Hi Richard

I am building a processing fee database which imports an excel spreadsheet into access.  The excel spreadsheet is non-normalized; it has the fields well, date, volume type, and volumes.  I am thinking of keeping the table intact - the table analyzer doesn't seem so useful if I need to append data later.  I could also try to link the import table to my normalized tables (well, well data [well and date], volumes, and volume type) but this seems is a lot or work.  Would you, in this case, keep the import data in a non-normalized table?



I would do whatever is best for your needs.

To clarify, if you really don't NEED this data to be normalized, and it's going to be a pain in the behind for you to do so, then that's fine. For example, you might be importing the same person's address multiple times. Yes, it wastes a little space. Yes, if you have to change it once you have to change it multiple times... but if this is not a big deal (or almost never happens) then don't worry about it.

On the other hand, if you absolutely, POSITIVELY need to keep your data clean and perfectly normalized, then go ahead and put the work in and do it. You'll need to read in the data and check to see if the record is already there, and if so figure out how to handle collisions. Yes, it's a lot of work... which is why I say only do it if you need to.

Databases are living, breathing things... they all have their own unique characteristics... and it's up to you to make it as simple or as complex as you need it to be to get your work done. I'll admit, I've got some real simple databases that I use for my business that deal with imported information. I haven't had a need to make sure they were perfectly normalized, so I never bothered. If the day ever arises where I need to change that, I'll put the effort in then.

Hope that answers your question. :)

Be sure to visit my web site and watch my FREE 2-hour-long Microsoft Access Video Tutorial

Richard Rost
599CD Computer Training  

Using MS Access

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Richard Rost


I am happy to answer any kinds of questions about Microsoft Access - from basic table design to advanced VBA programming. Also, please feel free to check the Access Tips & Tricks section of my web site, and free Access 101 tutorial.


I am the president of and I specialize in Microsoft Access Tutorials. I have been teaching Access in the classroom since 1994, and online since 2002.

I am a self-taught Access expert. I have been building databases for clients since the early 90s. You can see a sample of my Access Tutorials on my web site at

©2017 All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]