What Is a Float Data Type SQL?


Larry Thompson

A float data type in SQL is used to store floating-point numbers, which are real numbers that can have a fractional part. In other words, a float data type can represent both whole numbers and decimal numbers. It is commonly used when dealing with calculations involving decimal values in SQL queries and database operations.

Working with Float Data Type

When using the float data type, it’s important to keep in mind that it has a finite precision. This means that the number of decimal places it can accurately represent is limited. Therefore, it is not recommended to use the float data type for precise calculations or when accuracy is critical.

Defining a Float Column

To define a column with a float data type, you can use the following syntax:

CREATE TABLE table_name (
    column_name FLOAT(p)

Here, table_name refers to the name of your table, and column_name refers to the name of the specific column you want to define as a float data type. The p parameter represents precision and specifies the maximum number of digits that can be stored in the column.

Inserting Values into a Float Column

To insert values into a float column, you can use an INSERT statement:

INSERT INTO table_name (column_name)
VALUES (value);

In this example, table_name refers to the name of your table, column_name refers to the name of your float column, and value represents the actual value you want to insert into the column.

Precision and Rounding Errors

The precision of a float data type determines the number of significant digits it can store. However, due to the limited precision of the float data type, rounding errors may occur when performing calculations or storing decimal values.

It’s important to be aware of these rounding errors and consider using other data types, such as decimal, if you require precise calculations without potential loss of accuracy.

Comparing Float Values

When comparing float values in SQL queries, it’s essential to handle rounding errors appropriately. Due to the finite precision of the float data type, direct equality comparisons may not yield accurate results.

To compare float values, you can use comparison operators such as =, >, <, etc., along with a tolerance level. This tolerance level allows for a small margin of error when comparing floating-point numbers.


In summary, a float data type in SQL is used to store floating-point numbers with a finite precision. It is suitable for calculations involving decimal values but may introduce rounding errors due to its limited accuracy. When comparing float values, it’s important to handle rounding errors appropriately by using comparison operators and tolerance levels.

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