How Do You Determine the Data Type in a Snowflake?


Heather Bennett

In Snowflake, determining the data type of a column is an essential step in understanding and analyzing your data. The data type provides information about the kind of values stored in a column, which is crucial for performing operations and ensuring data integrity.

Why Data Types Matter

Data types define the characteristics of a column such as the range of values it can hold, its size in memory, and the operations that can be performed on it. Using appropriate data types ensures efficient storage and processing of data, improves query performance, and avoids unexpected errors or loss of precision.

Checking Data Types

Snowflake provides several methods to determine the data type of a column:


The DESCRIBE TABLE command displays information about a table’s columns, including their names, data types, nullable status, and other attributes.


This command returns a result set with columns like column_name, data_type, null?, and more. The data_type column specifies the Snowflake-specific data type for each column.


The SHOW COLUMNS command is another way to retrieve information about columns in a table. It provides similar output to DESCRIBE TABLE.


Information Schema Views

Snowflake also has Information Schema views that provide access to metadata about various database objects. Specifically, you can query the COLUMNS view to retrieve information about columns in a table.

WHERE TABLE_NAME = 'my_table';

The COLUMN_NAME and DATA_TYPE columns contain the name and data type of each column, respectively.

Snowflake Web Interface

If you are using Snowflake’s web interface, you can navigate to the “Tables” section, select a specific table, and view its schema. The schema displays the column names along with their corresponding data types.

Common Data Types in Snowflake

Snowflake supports a wide range of data types to handle diverse data requirements. Some common data types include:

  • VARCHAR: Variable-length character string
  • NUMBER: Numeric values with optional precision and scale
  • DATE: Date without time information
  • TIMESTAMP: Date and time with fractional seconds precision
  • BOOLEAN: True or false values
  • ARRAY: Ordered collection of elements of the same type or structure (e.g., ARRAY)
  • OBJECT: Semi-structured JSON-like objects (e., OBJECT)
  • VARIANT: Flexible semi-structured data type for handling JSON-like structures (e., VARIANT)
  • GEOGRAPHY/GEOMETRY/SPATIAL: Data types for storing geographic or spatial information (e., GEOGRAPHY)

Using the appropriate data type ensures that your data is stored and processed accurately, leading to reliable and meaningful analysis.


Determining the data type of a column in Snowflake is crucial for understanding and working with your data effectively. By using commands like DESCRIBE TABLE, SHOW COLUMNS, querying Information Schema views, or using the Snowflake web interface, you can easily access the data type information of your columns. Remember to choose the most appropriate data type for each column to ensure efficient storage, processing, and accurate analysis of your data.

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