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See field.


A physical structure in a form, file or database that holds data. A field is one or more bytes in size. A collection of fields makes up a data record; for example, ORDER #, NAME, ADDRESS, CITY, etc. The terms field and "box" are often used synonymously such as a "search field" or "search box" on a Web page.

The field is the common denominator for database searches. For example, the STATE field is referenced when the query to find "all customers who live in Florida" is made to a database. When totaling transactions, the ORDER_AMOUNT field is summed. JOB_TITLE is referenced when looking for certain employees.

Fields, Data Elements and Data Items
Although often used interchangeably, there are several terms that refer to the same unit of storage in a data record. A "data element" is the logical definition of the field, while a "data item" is the actual data stored in the field. For example, for each CITY data element defined in a record, there are many CITY fields (structures) in the database that hold the data items (New York, Chicago, Phoenix, etc.).

The Basic Unit of Storage
Data elements describe the logical unit of data, fields are the actual storage units, and data items are the individual instances of the data elements as in this example.

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