What Is Text Data Type in SQL?


Larry Thompson

What Is Text Data Type in SQL?

In SQL, the text data type is used to store large amounts of alphanumeric characters. It is commonly used for storing text-based information such as descriptions, comments, or even entire documents. The text data type is perfect for storing lengthy pieces of data that exceed the limit of other character-based data types like char or varchar.

The Difference Between Text and Varchar

Varchar, which stands for variable character, is another popular data type in SQL. While both text and varchar can store large amounts of characters, there are some differences between them.

One significant difference is the way they handle storage. The text data type stores data outside the table structure, whereas varchar stores it within the table structure itself. This means that using the text data type can sometimes lead to slower performance when retrieving or updating records.

In addition, unlike varchar, the text data type does not have a specific length limit. Varchar requires you to define a maximum length when creating a column, whereas text can accommodate any length of text without specifying a limit.

Working with Text Data Type

When working with the text data type, you can perform various operations like inserting, updating, and retrieving data just like with any other SQL data types. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:

  • Inserting Data: To insert values into a column with a text data type, you use single quotes (”) to enclose the text. For example: INSERT INTO table_name (column_name) VALUES (‘Some text’);
  • Selecting Data: When retrieving data from a text column, you can use the SELECT statement.

    For example: SELECT column_name FROM table_name;

  • Updating Data: To update values in a text column, you can use the UPDATE statement along with the SET keyword. For example: UPDATE table_name SET column_name = ‘New text’ WHERE condition;

It’s important to note that some database systems have their own variations of the text data type, such as clob (character large object) or varchar(max). These variations provide additional functionalities or improved performance for handling large amounts of text.


The text data type in SQL is a versatile and efficient way to store and manipulate large amounts of textual information. With its ability to accommodate any length of text without specific limits, it provides flexibility for managing extensive datasets. However, it’s crucial to consider the potential impact on performance when using this data type and explore alternative options if necessary.

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