7 Basic Steps to Designing a Relational Database

There are 7 basic steps to designing a relational database. There are several other steps that could be included in the database implementation and the database life cycle like, research, rollout and maintenance. However, I will be focusing strictly on the database design.


The seven basic steps are; first, determine the purpose of your system. Next, you will need to determine the entities for your system. These entities will become your table names. Next you will decide what attributes for those entities will be necessary for the purpose of the system. These attributes will become your fields within the tables. Next, you will need to determine what attributes/field names will help identify the records/entities as being unique. This field(s) will make up the primary key for each table. After you have determined the primary keys for the tables you will need to define the relationships between these tables. The best way to truly do this is to follow the standard steps in table normalization and at minimum get the table to a 3NF form. The process of normalization is the sixth step in the database design. The 7th, and final step, in the database design in the actual data population.


In short the key steps are;

  1. Determine the purpose of the system
  2. Determine what entities/tables will be included
  3. Determine what attributes/fields will be included
  4. Indentify unique fields (primary keys)
  5. Determine relationships between tables
  6. Refine the design (normalization)
  7. Populate the tables with raw data



http://www.databasedev.co.uk/database_design_requirements.html, retrieved May 1, 2009


Adamski, J., & Finnegan, K. (2008). Microsoft Office Access 2007. Boston: Course Technology.



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