What Data Type Should Be Used for Phone Numbers in Access?


Heather Bennett

In Microsoft Access, choosing the appropriate data type for phone numbers is essential for efficient data management and accurate analysis. The choice of data type determines how the phone number will be stored and processed within the database. Let’s explore the different data types available in Access and determine which one suits phone numbers best.

Data Types in Access

Access provides several data types to cater to different types of data, such as text, numbers, dates, and more. Each data type has specific properties and storage requirements that influence how the data is stored and used in queries, forms, reports, and other database objects.

Text Data Types

When dealing with phone numbers in Access, two text-based data types are commonly used:

  • Text: The Text data type is suitable for storing alphanumeric characters. It can accommodate up to 255 characters but treats all characters equally without any inherent formatting for phone numbers.
  • Memo: The Memo data type is designed for storing large amounts of text (up to 65,536 characters). While it can store phone numbers as well, it may not be the optimal choice due to its intended purpose of handling lengthy notes or descriptions.

Number Data Types

Although phone numbers consist of numeric digits only, using number-based data types may not be ideal due to potential issues related to leading zeros or special characters like parentheses or hyphens.

  • Number: The Number data type is suitable for storing numeric values. However, it’s important to note that it doesn’t support leading zeros by default.

    Therefore, if your phone numbers have leading zeros (e.g., international codes), using this data type may result in the loss of those leading zeros.

  • Text vs. Number: In most cases, using a text-based data type, such as Text or Memo, is a better choice for phone numbers in Access. This allows you to retain all the necessary formatting and characters without any potential data loss.

Formatting Phone Numbers

Once you have chosen the appropriate data type for phone numbers, you can further enhance their display by applying formatting techniques. Here are a few examples:

  • Bold: Use the <b> tag or CSS styling to make specific phone number elements stand out.
  • Underline: Apply the <u> tag or CSS styling to underline important phone number details.

An Example of Formatted Phone Numbers in Access

Let’s say we have a table named “Contacts” with a field called “Phone” that stores phone numbers. To format the phone numbers in our forms or reports, we can use HTML styling elements within Access controls or apply CSS styles directly.

.bold-number {
font-weight: bold;

.underlined-number {
text-decoration: underline;

Phone: <span class="bold-number">(123) <span class="underlined-number">456-7890</span></span>

In this example, we use HTML elements and CSS classes to apply bold and underline styles to specific parts of the phone number. You can adjust these styles according to your preference or existing CSS framework.


Choosing the right data type for phone numbers in Access is crucial for accurate storage and retrieval of information. While the Number data type is suitable for numeric values, text-based data types, such as Text or Memo, are generally more appropriate for phone numbers. Additionally, you can enhance the visual presentation of phone numbers by leveraging HTML styling elements and CSS.

By making informed decisions about data types and utilizing formatting techniques, you can ensure effective management of phone numbers in your Access database.

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