How Do I Find the Data Type of a Field in SQL?


Angela Bailey

How Do I Find the Data Type of a Field in SQL?

When working with databases and performing data analysis, it is essential to understand the data types of the fields in your SQL tables. The data type of a field determines what kind of value can be stored in that field, such as numbers, text, dates, or even binary data.

Method 1: Using the DESCRIBE Statement

The DESCRIBE statement is a useful tool for obtaining information about the structure of a table, including the data types of its fields. Let’s see how it works:

  • Start by opening your SQL command-line interface or database management tool.
  • Enter the following command:

    DESCRIBE table_name;

    Replace table_name with the actual name of the table you want to examine.

  • Execute the command and observe the output. You will see a list of columns with their corresponding data types.

Method 2: Querying System Tables

If you prefer using queries to retrieve information about table structures, you can directly query system tables or views specific to your database management system. Here are some common examples:


WHERE TABLE_NAME = 'table_name';

Replace table_name with your desired table name.


SELECT column_name, data_type
FROM information_schema.columns
WHERE table_name = 'table_name';

Again, replace table_name accordingly.

Microsoft SQL Server:

WHERE TABLE_NAME = 'table_name';

Remember to adjust table_name.

Method 3: Using the SHOW COLUMNS Statement

If you are using MySQL, another convenient method is to employ the SHOW COLUMNS statement. Here’s how it works:

  • Open your MySQL command-line interface or a tool like phpMyAdmin.
  • Execute the following command:

    SHOW COLUMNS FROM table_name;

    Replace table_name with your actual table name.

  • Review the output, which will provide detailed information about each column, including its data type.

In conclusion, there are several methods available to find the data type of a field in SQL. Whether you choose to use the DESCRIBE statement, query system tables/views, or rely on database-specific commands like SHOW COLUMNS (in MySQL), understanding the data types of your fields is crucial for effective data management and analysis.

Note: It’s important to keep in mind that different database management systems may have slight variations in their syntax and system tables/views. Therefore, consult your database’s documentation for accurate information specific to your environment.

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