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October 2006 : access


  understanding data types

Understanding how Access stores and displays decimals can be a bit tricky with the different data types and formats that are available in fields. Even if you understand how a specific format or data type works, it may not work quite how you expect if it's paired with another data type or format. On top of that, you have to consider how you want to use the Decimal Places setting when displaying values.

This article will discuss some of the basic ways to store and display values in a database, along with examples in a database table.

Storing decimal values

When you store values, there are two field sizes that are used most often: Double and Long Integer. The basic difference between these two types is that Double can store decimals; Long Integer cannot, nor can its shorter counterpart, Integer. Usually, values that have decimals will be using one of these field sizes under the Number data type: Single or Double. Currency is also affected by how values with many decimals are displayed. The figure below describes these common decimal storing options and their ability to store decimal values.

Displaying decimal values

Once you have chosen how you want decimal values to be stored—in other words, you have chosen the data type—you also need to think about how you want the decimal values to be displayed. You see, even if a decimal value is entered one way, it can be displayed in a very different way.

There are basically two settings you need to pay attention to when displaying decimals:

Format property: Choose from one of six predefined formats: General Number, Currency, Fixed, Standard, Percent and Scientific.

Decimal Places property: Controls the number of decimal places Access displays, regardless of decimal places in the value.

The examples below show how decimal values are displayed under different display settings; changing the Format property, changing the Decimal Places property, and a combination of the display settings. But the best way to learn might be to use trial and error when deciding how to store and display decimal values.


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Decimal Options


Examples of Data Types and Formats


How a Number Appears with Formats