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 >True but if you *do* start in Excel the path through Acess to an SQL
engine is fairly straight
 >forward. *Any* tool will do if it provides the information that *you*
particularly want. Using
 >"standard" Microsoft products goes a long way to help in portability.

Erk. Sorry, but using "standard" Microsoft products won't help one jot
in portability. Forget it if you want to easily:
transfer your data to someone using a Mac, eg someone working doing some
desktop publishing,
transfer your data to someone using Unix, eg if you want to dynamically
publish your data on a website,
transfer your data to another database system, eg something to allow
more than one person to edit the data.
transfer your data to someone running an older version of Office,

You can't really do any serious database work in Excel. It doesn't
really support multiple tables, autonumbering of fields (for say primary
keys) , enforcement of referential integrity, 'standard' querying of
data, or ACID updates.

A