What Is the Default Format for Datetime Data Type in SQL?


Heather Bennett

When working with datetime data type in SQL, it is important to understand the default format in which dates and times are stored. The default format for datetime data type in SQL is YYYY-MM-DD HH:MI:SS.

YYYY: Represents the four-digit year. For example, 2022.

MM: Represents the two-digit month. For example, 02 for February.

DD: Represents the two-digit day of the month. For example, 15.

HH: Represents the two-digit hour in a 24-hour format. For example, 13 for 1 PM.

MI: Represents the two-digit minute. For example, 45.

SS: Represents the two-digit second. For example, 30.

This default format is used by SQL to store and display datetime values unless a different format is specified explicitly. It ensures consistency and ease of manipulation when working with dates and times in SQL queries.

The Importance of Understanding Default Format

Understanding the default format for datetime data type is crucial when dealing with various operations such as inserting or retrieving dates from a database, performing calculations or comparisons on dates, or formatting dates for display purposes.

The Default Format Example:

Let’s consider an example to illustrate how SQL stores datetime values using the default format.

    OrderID int,
    OrderDate datetime

INSERT INTO Orders (OrderID, OrderDate)
VALUES (1, '2022-02-15 13:45:30');

In this example, we have created a table named “Orders” with two columns: “OrderID” of integer data type and “OrderDate” of datetime data type. We have inserted a record with OrderID as 1 and OrderDate as ‘2022-02-15 13:45:30’, which is in the default format.

Working with Default Format

When working with datetime data type, you can perform various operations such as:

  • Inserting Dates: When inserting dates into a database table, you can use the default format to ensure proper storage and retrieval of dates.
  • Retrieving Dates: When retrieving dates from a database, SQL will return the dates in the default format unless specified otherwise.
  • Date Calculations: You can perform calculations on dates using SQL functions like DATEADD or DATEDIFF. The default format allows for easy manipulation of date values.
  • Date Comparisons: Comparing dates using SQL operators like greater than (>), less than (<), or equal to (=) is straightforward when the dates are in the default format.

In addition to these operations, you may also need to format datetime values for display purposes. SQL provides various formatting functions like FORMAT() or CONVERT() that allow you to convert datetime values into different formats according to your requirements.

The Importance of Formatting Dates

Formatting dates is essential when displaying them to users or exporting data. It helps improve readability and ensures consistency across different platforms or applications. By specifying a desired format, you can transform datetime values into strings with specific patterns, such as “MM/DD/YYYY” or “DD-Mon-YYYY”.

A Quick Formatting Example:

SELECT FORMAT(OrderDate, 'MM/DD/YYYY') AS FormattedOrderDate
FROM Orders;

In this example, we are using the FORMAT() function to convert the OrderDate column into a formatted string with the “MM/DD/YYYY” pattern. This allows us to display the date as “02/15/2022” instead of the default format.


In SQL, the default format for datetime data type is YYYY-MM-DD HH:MI:SS. Understanding this default format is crucial for storing and manipulating dates effectively in your database.

It allows for consistency and ease of use when working with datetime values in SQL queries. Additionally, formatting dates according to specific patterns enhances readability and ensures consistent presentation of date information.

By utilizing the default format and formatting options provided by SQL, you can effectively work with datetime data type and present dates in a visually engaging manner.

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