A physical unit of data that is one or more bytes in size. A collection of fields make up a record. A field also defines a unit of data on a source document, screen or report. Examples of fields are NAME, ADDRESS, QUANTITY and AMOUNT DUE.
The field is the common denominator between the user and the computer. When you interactively query and update your database, you reference your data by field name.
Fields, Data Elements and Data Items
There are several terms that refer to the same unit of storage as a field. A data element
is the logical definition of the field, and a data item
is the actual data stored in the field. For each data element, there are many fields in the database that hold the data items.
The Basic Unit of Storage
Technically, 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. In everyday language, all three terms are used interchangeably. When you read technical documentation on database management, you run across the proper use of these terms (maybe!).