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If you are creating a column for free-form data entry, such as a notes column to hold data about customer interactions with your company’s customer service department, then varchar will probably be adequate. If you are storing documents, however, you should choose either the mediumtext or longtext type.

Could you please tell me what free-form data entry is? I know what data entry is per se - when data is fed into some kind of electronic system for processing - but I don't know how to understand the term free-form. Any thoughts?

Thank you.

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It simply means the user can type in almost anything they like, without restrictions to form.

Usually this means something like a text-box in an entry form, where the user can type several lines of text, possibly even line breaks, tabs, etc.

The example given is a "notes" column, it is not uncommon to have a field with "notes" for a customer, or a user, or a product, where a user of the software can note down some information he feels do not fit in the standard columns.

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I found a similar term that could help answer your question. It's "free-form text", and it means an unstructured text, without format. So, a free-format data could mean an unstructured data entry

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