Normalizing Your Data

In this video, we are going to talk about normalizing your data but what does that means and why is it important?

Let’s take a spreadsheet, for example. Typically, somebody has laboriously typed the same thing over and over again, with potential (typing) errors between one record and another. In the video, we show a data set where there are multiple columns for email addresses with the same email address being typed multiple times.

In a normalized set of data, there is a table for email addresses and each email address is given a unique id which is entered wherever that email is required. Instead of typing it repeatedly,

the email address is typed once and once only

and the user simply selects from a drop down list of email addresses where it is needed. This ensures consistency and allows a user to, for example, see everywhere that an email is being used and be able to go to all of those records with a single click.

If you need to manage your data effectively, data normalization is essential.

In the video above we showed you to normalize your data but how do you then use it?

The next video shows just a few ways that we can use that normalized data, all of which will save time, eliminate repetitive typing and allow users to be more productive with less effort.

Normalized data means never have to type the same thing over and over again.

Normalized data separates data and puts it in its proper place.

Normalized data is always connected to other tables so you can access records instantly from multiple places.

Normalized data can be updated from anywhere and is instantly changed everywhere.

Normalized data prevents typing mistakes.

Outside of professional database developers like myself, I have come across very few people who understand, or have any concept at all, of normalization.
So let’s start with an analogy, by looking at the two pictures on the right. The top one represents non-normalized data and the bottom one represents data after it has been normalized. Just like a jigsaw, getting from the first state to the finished one takes a lot of work but, when it is done you can see everything, with a single glance and can focus on what interests you most..

The data that any business collects is, I’m sorry to say, rarely ever used other than for sales reports or the like which are fine, but the data is much more useful than that. When properly analyzed, that data will tell a business owner pretty much everything they need to know; even to the extent of sometimes changing their business entirely. Data (if accurate) doesn’t lie and the longer the period that the data covers, the more likely it is to be able to come to valid conclusions.

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