databases[OFFICE] We all like to be organized, right? When you have a lot of data (such as contacts, story-telling activities, historical events), putting it in a tool that will make it easy to retrieve is handy. The question is, should it be a spreadsheet or a simple database?

Lots of times, the default “tool” is a spreadsheet (Excel or Google Sheets). We put each item in a row, with different categories in each column. For example, if it were for a contact list, the name of the individual may be in the first column, with others holding the address, email, phone number, and maybe a birthday.

Database tools that you find online are very often designed for CRM (Customer Relationships Management) data. Popular options include HubSpot, Salesforce and

Microsoft Access, however, is generic database software that we can shape the way we want. It has a steep learning curve unless you use the templates we had created for our webinar on databases. (See below for more info.)

When is it more useful for you to put your info into a database vs. a spreadsheet?

Database SoftwareSpreadsheet Software
Large amount of dataSmall to medium amount of data
Filters using multiple parametersFilters use a single parameter … IF the spreadsheet is “Formatted as a Table”
Query functionalityCalculation functionality
Forms for submitting dataAnalysis Possibilities


So, if you think you could use a database, how could you just create a SIMPLE one? Is there an online tool available? Would it be free? Could you learn how to use it easily?

With those questions in mind, let’s look at some database platforms.

AccessMicrosoft Access

Now, anyone with Microsoft Suite typically has the database component: Access. NOTE: With Google, there is no database tool. (See alternatives you can use in Google below.)

Have You Heard That Access is No Longer Supported by Microsoft?

Microsoft previously released a statement that it would be shutting down Access Web Apps and Web Databases in Office 365 in April of 2018. However, they rolled back that statement and quietly changed their mind. Updates continued to appear – the latest version of Access in Office 365 was released in September 2020. Continued updates and improvements to Access are now delivered through the Office 365 subscription service, with updates focusing on integration, cloud connectivity, and data analysis improvements.

Create Your Own Simple Database in Access

Although this is a complex platform, there is a user-friendly way to get started:

  • Open Access and choose New.
  • Then select from any of the premade database Templates that Microsoft has created for use.
  • Or you can open a new blank database (there is quite a learning curve with this, however).



Because Access is a complex platform… you may want to watch this webinar recording.

“Use Simple Excel & Access Databases to Organize Storytelling Resources” 

In this webinar, we showed how we created two database templates for you to use!

  1. One is based on storytelling events … organizing and retrieving saved resources.
  2. The other template shows a modification … keeping track of historical materials.

You can download the templates to use in your own planning … for your own topics.

Find the recording and templates here.

Google Options

googleIf you only work in the Google Suite, then a spreadsheet may be your best choice.

Or, you can integrate Google Forms so that content entered will be added to a spreadsheet-based database that is stored online. It is easy to set up and free to use.

Key Steps Overview

  • Create a Google Form for intake of content.
  • Specify a Google Spreadsheet that the form content will automatically populate.
  • Now you need to convert the spreadsheet into a database.

NOTE: A third party interface (another app) is required to make the conversion. There are a number of these available. In a browser, search for “how to turn a google sheet into a database” to find the solution that works best for you. Google AppSheet is a popular one.

More Database Options

There are third-party database solutions that you could use like LibreOffice Base, Kexi from Calligra Office, and Bubble, but we are not suggesting these at this time because they are not simple.

If you want to know about more databases, this link below does a good job of outlining the pros and cons of several of them.