Exploring Derived Attributes in ER Diagrams: A Comprehensive Guide

This article explores the diverse types of attributes in Entity-Relationship Diagrams (ERDs), including composite, derived, and multivalued attributes.


An Entity Relationship Diagram (ER Diagram) visually represents the relationships between entities in a database. It illustrates how various entities interact and the attributes associated with each entity. Typically composed of entities, attributes, and relationships, ER diagrams serve as blueprints for database design, facilitating understanding and communication among stakeholders.

Derived attributes in ER diagrams are attributes whose values can be derived from other attributes within the database. Unlike regular attributes, which directly correspond to data stored in the database, derived attributes are computed or derived based on existing data. Continue reading below to learn more.

In this article
  1. Components of an ER Diagram
  2. Four Types of Attributes
  3. Utilize EdrawMax as an ER Diagram Tool
  4. Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an ER Diagram using EdrawMax
  5. Conclusion

Components of an ER Diagram

An Entity-Relationship (ER) diagram visually represents the database schema, illustrating the structure and relationships between entities. Comprising key components such as entities, attributes, and relationships, an ER diagram provides a concise overview of the database model. Let's delve into the core elements that constitute an ER diagram:


In an ER diagram, an entity represents a real-world object or concept that can be distinctly identified. Entities are typically nouns and serve as the primary building blocks of the database schema. For example, "Student" and "Course" could be entities in a university database. Each entity is depicted as a rectangle in the ER diagram, with its name written inside.


Attributes describe the properties or characteristics of entities. They provide additional information about the entities represented in the database. Attributes can be simple or composite, single-valued or multi-valued, and derived. For example, for the entity "Student," attributes could include "Student ID," "Name," and "Date of Birth." Each attribute is depicted as an oval connected to its respective entity.


Relationships in ER diagrams depict the associations or interactions between entities. They illustrate how entities are connected in the database. Relationships can be one-to-one, one-to-many, or many-to-many. For example, in a university database, there could be a "Takes" relationship between "Student" and "Course," indicating that a student takes one or more courses. Relationships are represented by lines connecting entities, with optional cardinality and participation indicators.

Four Types of Attributes

In an Entity-Relationship (ER) diagram, attributes play a vital role in describing the characteristics of entities. Here are the four main types of attributes commonly found in ER diagrams:

Key Attribute

key attribute

Also known as the primary key, this attribute uniquely identifies each entity within a database table. It ensures the integrity and uniqueness of each record. The key attribute is usually underlined or marked in an ER diagram with a key symbol. For example, in a "Student" entity, the "Student ID" might be the key attribute.

Composite Attribute

composite attribute

A composite attribute comprises multiple smaller attributes, each representing a distinct characteristic of the entity. It combines related pieces of data into a single attribute. For instance, in an entity representing a person, a composite attribute "Address" might include sub-attributes such as "Street," "City," and "Zip Code."

Multivalued Attribute

multivalued attribute

Multivalued attributes can hold multiple values for a single entity instance. Unlike regular attributes, which store only one value, multivalued attributes allow for storing multiple independent values. In an ER diagram, multivalued attributes are represented by double ovals. For example, in an entity representing a "Car," a multivalued attribute could be "Color," as a car might have multiple colors.

Derived Attribute

derived attribute

Derived attributes are those whose values can be derived or calculated from other attributes within the database. They are not stored directly but are determined through computation based on other attributes' values. Derived attributes help reduce redundancy and improve data integrity by ensuring consistency. In an ER diagram, derived attributes are often indicated with dashed lines. An example of a derived attribute could be "Age" in an entity representing a person, calculated based on the person's "Date of Birth."

Understanding these attributes is essential for designing effective and efficient database schemas, ensuring accurate representation and management of data within the system.

Utilize EdrawMax as an ER Diagram Tool

EdrawMax is a versatile and user-friendly diagramming tool specifically tailored for creating professional-quality Entity-Relationship (ER) diagrams. With its intuitive interface, extensive library of shapes and templates, and smart connector tools, EdrawMax simplifies designing complex database schemas. Its collaborative capabilities and cross-platform compatibility further enhance its appeal, allowing users to work seamlessly with team members and access their ER diagrams from any device.

Unique features of EdrawMax:

EdrawMax is equipped with a range of exceptional functionalities tailored to streamline the creation of ER diagrams:

Extensive Symbol Library

EdrawMax provides a rich collection of pre-designed shapes and symbols specifically tailored for creating ER diagrams encompassing entities, attributes, and relationships.

Customizable Templates

Users have the flexibility to select from a variety of customizable templates, expediting their ER diagram creation process and minimizing time and effort.

Smart Connector Tools

EdrawMax boasts smart connector tools that automatically adjust and align connections between entities and relationships, ensuring that diagrams maintain a neat and organized appearance.

Collaboration and Sharing

EdrawMax facilitates real-time collaboration among users, allowing seamless sharing of diagrams with team members. Additionally, users can export diagrams to various file formats such as PDF, PNG, or Visio for enhanced accessibility and sharing.

Cross-platform Compatibility

With availability across Windows, macOS, online, and mobile platforms, EdrawMax enables users to work on their ER diagrams conveniently from any location and device.

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an ER Diagram using EdrawMax

Creating an Entity-Relationship (ER) diagram is made simple with EdrawMax's intuitive interface and powerful features. Follow this comprehensive guide to efficiently design your database schema, ensuring clarity and accuracy in representing entities, attributes, and relationships.

Launch EdrawMax

edrawmax home

Download EdrawMax or try it online for free. You can use your social media credentials like your Google account to log in.

Choose ER Diagram Template

edrawmax er templates

Select the "ER Diagram" category from the template gallery, then choose a suitable template to begin your ER diagram.

Add Entities

adding entities

Drag and drop entity shapes from the symbol library onto the canvas. Double-click on each entity to rename it according to your database schema.

Add Attributes

adding attribute

For each entity, add attributes by dragging attribute shapes onto the entity shape. Double-click on each attribute to rename it and specify its data type.

Connect Entities with Relationships

connect entities

Use connector tools to draw lines between related entities, representing the relationships between them. Add labels to indicate the cardinality and participation constraints of each relationship.

Customize and Format

customize er

Customize your ER diagram by adjusting the colors, fonts, and styles to enhance readability and presentation. Ensure all elements are properly aligned and labeled.

Save and Export

save and export

Once your ER diagram is complete, save your work in EdrawMax format. You can also export the diagram to various formats, such as PDF, PNG, or Visio, for easy sharing and presentation.

Following these steps ensures that you create a clear and accurate ER diagram, serving as a reliable blueprint for your database schema.


In conclusion, ER diagrams are indispensable tools for database design, providing a visual representation of entities, attributes, and relationships. Understanding the various components and types of attributes in ER diagrams, including derived attributes, is crucial for creating accurate and efficient database schemas. Utilizing tools like EdrawMax further simplifies the process, offering a range of features and templates to streamline diagram creation. Whether for academic, professional, or personal projects, mastering ER diagrams enhances data organization, management, and communication.

For further exploration and in-depth insights into creating ER diagrams, visit EdrawMax's official website and access their comprehensive resources and tutorials.

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Alayna Margaret
Alayna Margaret Jul 04, 24
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