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Importing Dirty Data Into Access 

If the data you need is stored in a proprietary system, no one needs to retype anything. Even if the proprietary system doesn't offer a clean export option, as long as the system can print reports to text files, you can get to it. Unfortunately, when you import that kind of text file into Access 97, the page header data, column headers, and footer data can create a mess. 

The way to work around that dirty data is to use the Import Text Wizard's Fixed Width option and parse the text based on the columns you know contain "good" data. 

After the wizard "guesses" about the column breaks, click to add a vertical line at the position where you want a text break, double-click to remove a line, or drag a line to a new location. 

When the wizard prompts you, be sure to name the columns using the same field names you used in the target table. The import error log will be full of reports on the dirty data you already know about. So go straight to creating a query that pulls out the "good" records. 

For instance, if you're importing billing data, you usually get lucky because all the invoice numbers will have something in common. Then you can use criteria such as "Like INV*" to select records based on the entries in the Invoice Number field.

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