Does SQL Have String Data Type?


Larry Thompson

Does SQL Have String Data Type?

When working with databases, it is common to deal with different types of data. One of the most frequently used data types is the string data type.

Strings are sequences of characters and are used to store text or alphanumeric data. But does SQL, the widely used language for managing relational databases, have a string data type? Let’s find out.

The VARCHAR Data Type

In SQL, the most commonly used data type for storing strings is VARCHAR. The VARCHAR data type allows you to store variable-length strings. It means that you can define a maximum length for the string, but it can be shorter than that maximum length.

For example, if you have a VARCHAR column defined as VARCHAR(50), you can store any string with a maximum length of 50 characters in that column. However, if you only need to store a short string with 10 characters, you can do so without wasting any extra space.

Character Sets and Collations

When working with strings in SQL, it is essential to consider character sets and collations. A character set defines the set of characters that can be used in a particular string column, while a collation determines how these characters are compared and sorted.

In most modern database systems, including MySQL and PostgreSQL, you can specify the character set and collation when defining a VARCHAR column. This allows you to handle different languages and special characters properly.

Working with Strings in SQL

SQL provides various functions and operators for manipulating strings:

  • CONCAT: This function allows you to concatenate multiple strings together.
  • SUBSTRING: Use this function to extract a substring from a larger string.
  • UPPER and LOWER: These functions convert a string to uppercase or lowercase, respectively.
  • LENGTH: This function returns the length of a string.

String Manipulation Example

Let’s see an example of how you can manipulate strings in SQL. Suppose you have a table called “users” with a column named “full_name” of type VARCHAR(100). You can use the CONCAT function to create a new column called “first_name” that contains only the first name:

SELECT CONCAT(SUBSTRING(full_name, 1, LOCATE(' ', full_name) - 1)) AS first_name
FROM users;

This query uses the SUBSTRING function to extract the substring from the beginning of “full_name” up to the first occurrence of a space. The CONCAT function then combines this substring to create the “first_name” column.


Although SQL does not have a specific data type called “string,” it provides the VARCHAR data type for storing strings. By using VARCHAR along with character sets and collations, you can handle different types of textual data effectively. Additionally, SQL offers various functions and operators for manipulating strings, allowing you to perform complex operations on your text data.

In conclusion, SQL is well-equipped for working with strings and offers robust functionality for managing textual information within databases.

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