To ensure that database tables are designed in such a way that they will hold your data reliably, you need to be sure that they are not subject to modification anomalies. Normalizing your databases will give you that assurance. Compare the SQL criteria in the following list to the tables in your database. Doing so will alert you to the possibility of anomalies, when you find that your database is not sufficiently normalized.

First Normal Form (1NF):

  • Table must be two-dimensional, with rows and columns.

  • Each row contains data that pertains to one thing or one portion of a thing.

  • Each column contains data for a single attribute of the thing being described.

  • Each cell (intersection of row and column) of the table must be single-valued.

  • All entries in a column must be of the same kind.

  • Each column must have a unique name.

  • No two rows may be identical.

  • The order of the columns and of the rows does not matter.

Second Normal Form (2NF):
  • Table must be in first normal form (1NF).

  • All non-key attributes (columns) must be dependent on the entire key.

Third Normal Form (3NF):
  • Table must be in second normal form (2NF).

  • Table has no transitive dependencies.

Domain-Key Normal Form (DK/NF):
  • Every constraint on the table is a logical consequence of the definition of keys and domains.

About This Article

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Allen G. Taylor is a 30-year veteran of the computer industry and the author of over 40 books, including SQL For Dummies and Crystal Reports For Dummies. He lectures nationally on databases, innovation, and entrepreneurship. He also teaches database development internationally through a leading online education provider.

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