Data Entry: Form Versus Substance

As the input of two-digit dates makes apparent, data entry is not necessarily the straightforward activity it appears to be. One reason is that what you enter might not be what you want displayed. For example, a U.S. telephone number has 10 digits (as in 2125551879), and that's usually all you want to have stored. At the same time, though, you want to see phone numbers displayed in a format such as (212) 555-1879 or 212-555-1879.

In the case of a typical phone number, the dashes are just separators for convenience and display. In other cases, though, dashes could be a vital part of the value: An account number of 212-555-1879 might mean something completely different than 212-555-187-9. In this case, the dash ...

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