What Is the Data Type for Decimal in SQL?


Scott Campbell

What Is the Data Type for Decimal in SQL?

In SQL, the data type used to store decimal numbers is called DECIMAL. It is commonly used when precision and scale are important for numeric values that require exact decimal representation.

The DECIMAL data type allows you to define the total number of digits and the number of digits after the decimal point, providing flexibility for storing various types of numerical data accurately.

The syntax for defining a column with the DECIMAL data type in SQL is as follows:

    column_name DECIMAL(precision, scale)

Here, precision refers to the total number of digits (both before and after the decimal point) that can be stored in the column. The range for precision can vary depending on the database system you are using.

For example, some databases allow a maximum precision of up to 38 digits.

The second parameter, scale, represents the number of digits that can be stored after the decimal point. This value must be less than or equal to the precision value.

It defines how many decimal places can be used in a given number.

An Example:

    CREATE TABLE products (
      id INT,
      price DECIMAL(10,2)

In this example, we create a table called “products” with two columns: “id” and “price”. The “price” column is defined as a decimal with a precision of 10 and a scale of 2.

This means that the column can store numbers up to 10 digits in total, with 2 digits after the decimal point.

Why Use DECIMAL Data Type?

The DECIMAL data type is particularly useful when dealing with financial or monetary data. It allows for precise calculations and accurate representation of decimal numbers, which is crucial when working with currencies or any other data that requires exact decimal values.

Unlike other numeric data types such as INTEGER or FLOAT, the DECIMAL data type retains the exact decimal representation without any rounding errors. This makes it ideal for storing sensitive or critical numeric information where accuracy is paramount.


In SQL, the DECIMAL data type provides a reliable way to store decimal numbers with precision and scale. By defining the total number of digits and the number of decimal places, you can ensure accurate representation of numerical values in your database.

This is especially important when working with financial or monetary data that requires exact decimal calculations and precise storage.

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