About planning a database
A well-designed database promotes consistent data entry and retrieval, and reduces the existence of duplicate data among the database tables. Relational database tables work together to ensure that the correct data is available when you need it. It’s a good idea to plan a database on paper first.
Follow these general steps to plan a database:
If other people will use the database, be sure to talk with them about the data they will need.
In database terminology, these categories of information are referred to as tables. Tables are used to group data containing a common element or purpose. For example, you might use one table to store names and addresses, while you use another table to store transaction details, such as date of sale, item number, unit price, and so on.
Typically, databases are organized in one of three ways:
Use relationships to share data between tables in the same file or with tables in external files. Other database elements, such as scripts and access privileges, are stored at the file level; therefore, some complex solutions will benefit from using multiple files.
Note  FileMaker Pro is very flexible, so the decision to store data in a single file or in multiple files is often one of packaging and convenience. Data stored in tables is very easily shared between tables in the same file and tables in external files using relationships, as explained in Working with related tables and files. Other elements, such as scripts and access privileges, are stored at the file level, and because of this some complex solutions will benefit from using multiple files.
Tip  To make it easy to search and sort records, create separate fields for first and last name, titles (like Mr. or Dr.) and items in addresses (city, state or province, country, and postal code). Separating your data into multiple fields at the time of data entry can make it easier to generate future reports. For example, using separate fields to capture transaction details such as the date, item number, quantity, and unit price of each transaction makes it easier to compile summary and subsummary reports at the end of a week, month, or year.
For example, a database for a bakery business might include these tables: a Customers table, which stores customer information; a Products table, which stores product information; a Line Items table, which stores information about products sold, and an Invoices table, which stores order information.
Each table has only one subject, and all fields in a table describe only that subject. For example, the fields in one record of the Customers table together store all the information about one customer. For the same reason, you might assign each customer a unique, identifying number. You wouldn’t enter a customer identification number into the table unless you had a new customer to add, so the existence of a customer number determines the existence of a record. A Customers table might also have fields for the customer’s name, address and phone number.
A Products table might have fields for a product identification number, the unit price for each product, and the quantity in stock. A Line Items table might have fields for product and invoice identification numbers, the name, unit price, quantity, and total price of each product sold. An Invoices table might have fields for an invoice identification number, order date, and salesperson.
Fields in the Customers, Invoices, Line Items, and Products tables
See About match fields for relationships.
Match fields in the Customers, Invoices, Line Items, and Products tables
Based on a table’s subject, you can see where it makes sense to store the data and where to use data from a related table. Other than match fields, all fields should appear only once in your database. Cross out occurrences of fields that don’t pertain to the table’s subject.
Unnecessary fields crossed out in the Customers, Invoices, and Line Items tables
What establishes a relationship between tables is that their match fields contain matching data.
Relationships between the Customers, Invoices, Line Items, and Products tables
Relationships also make it possible to group your data to resolve complex queries. For example, relationships can be used to determine current inventory levels, sales projections, and other tasks where it is necessary to query data across multiple tables. See Working with related tables and files.
Determine whether you need to share your database with other users, and how they will access the file.
See Sharing databases on a network.
See Protecting databases.
Decide what layouts you need, and plan a separate layout for each task.
For example, create separate layouts for printing labels or envelopes.
See Creating and managing layouts and reports.
Related topics 
Creating a FileMaker Pro file
Defining database tables
About defining database fields
Creating a layout
About protecting databases
About relationships