When Should We Use NVARCHAR Data Type for a Column?


Angela Bailey

When Should We Use NVARCHAR Data Type for a Column?

The choice of data types for columns is an important decision when designing a database schema. One commonly used data type is NVARCHAR, which is used to store variable-length Unicode character data. In this article, we will explore the situations where using NVARCHAR as a column data type is appropriate.

1. Multilingual Support

If your application needs to support multiple languages, using the NVARCHAR data type is essential. Unlike VARCHAR, which only supports ASCII characters, NVARCHAR can store characters from any language, including non-Latin scripts like Chinese, Arabic, or Cyrillic.

2. Special Characters and Symbols

If your column needs to store special characters or symbols that are not part of the standard ASCII character set, such as mathematical symbols or currency symbols from various countries, then using NVARCHAR is necessary. These characters can be properly stored and retrieved without any loss of information.

3. Text Search and Indexing

If you plan to perform text searches on the column or create indexes on it for efficient querying, using NVARCHAR is recommended. With NVARCHAR columns, you can leverage full-text search capabilities provided by database systems to facilitate efficient searching and indexing across different languages.

4. Future Expansion

If there’s a possibility that the requirements for your column might change in the future and you may need to support multilingual data or special characters/symbols at some point down the line, it’s wise to choose NVARCHAR from the beginning. This saves you from having to alter your schema later on and ensures compatibility with potential future enhancements.

5. Data Integrity

Using NVARCHAR also helps ensure data integrity by preventing data truncation.

Unlike VARCHAR, where the number of characters is limited by the column size, NVARCHAR can store variable-length data without worrying about exceeding the defined length. This prevents any loss of information due to truncation.


The NVARCHAR data type should be used when you need to store multilingual data, special characters/symbols, perform text searches, anticipate future expansion, or ensure data integrity. By using NVARCHAR appropriately, you can design a robust and flexible database schema that caters to a wider range of requirements.

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