# What Is Decimal Data Type in SQL?

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Heather Bennett

What Is Decimal Data Type in SQL?

In SQL, the Decimal data type is used to store numeric values with a fixed precision and scale. It is commonly used to represent monetary or financial data, where accuracy is of utmost importance. The precision determines the total number of digits that can be stored, while the scale controls the number of decimal places.

## Precision and Scale

The precision refers to the total number of digits that can be stored in a decimal value. This includes both the digits before and after the decimal point.

For example, a decimal column with a precision of 5 can store values like 123.45 or -9876. A higher precision allows for more accurate representation of numbers.

The scale, on the other hand, specifies the maximum number of decimal places that can be stored in a decimal value. For instance, if a column has a scale of 2, it can store numbers like 10.25 or -3.99.

The combination of precision and scale helps ensure that numeric values are stored accurately without any loss of information.

## Declaring Decimal Columns

In SQL, when creating a table, you can specify a column as having the Decimal data type by using the DECIMAL(precision, scale) or NUMERIC(precision, scale) syntax. Here’s an example:

```CREATE TABLE Products (
Price DECIMAL(8, 2),
Quantity DECIMAL(5)
);
```

In this example, we have two columns: Price and Quantity. The Price column has a precision of 8 with 2 decimal places (e.g., \$1234.56), while the Quantity column has a precision of 5 with no decimal places (e., 1000).

## Performing Arithmetic Operations

Decimal data types allow for precise arithmetic calculations, ensuring accurate results. When performing calculations on decimal values, the precision and scale of the result are determined by the database engine based on the input values and the operation performed.

For example, let’s say we have two decimal columns: Price and Quantity. We can calculate the total value of a product by multiplying these two columns:

```SELECT Price * Quantity AS TotalValue
FROM Products;
```

In this query, the database engine will automatically determine the precision and scale of the TotalValue column based on the inputs (Price and Quantity). The result will be a decimal value with an appropriate precision and scale to maintain accuracy.

## Summary

• The Decimal data type in SQL is used to store numeric values with fixed precision and scale.
• Precision determines the total number of digits that can be stored, while scale controls the number of decimal places.
• Decimal columns are declared using DECIMAL(precision, scale) or NUMERIC(precision, scale) syntax.
• Arithmetic operations on decimal values maintain accuracy by adjusting precision and scale as needed.

The Decimal data type is essential for handling monetary or financial data accurately in SQL databases. By understanding its properties and usage, you can ensure accuracy when storing and manipulating numeric values in your database tables.