Which Data Type Is Used for Decimal Numbers in SQL Server?


Larry Thompson

When working with decimal numbers in SQL Server, it is important to choose the appropriate data type to ensure accuracy and efficiency in storing and manipulating these values. SQL Server offers several data types for decimal numbers, each with its own characteristics and limitations.

The Decimal Data Type

The most commonly used data type for decimal numbers in SQL Server is the decimal data type. The decimal data type is ideal for financial calculations, where precision and scale are critical.

The decimal data type allows you to specify the precision and scale of the number being stored. The precision represents the total number of digits that can be stored, both to the left and right of the decimal point. The scale represents the maximum number of digits that can be stored to the right of the decimal point.

To define a column or variable as a decimal data type in SQL Server, you need to specify both the precision and scale using the following syntax:

DECIMAL(precision, scale)

For example, if you want to store a decimal number with a precision of 10 digits and a scale of 2 digits (i.e., two digits after the decimal point), you would use:

DECIMAL(10, 2)

The Numeric Data Type

In addition to the decimal data type, SQL Server also provides another similar data type called numeric. The numeric data type is functionally equivalent to the decimal data type and can be used interchangeably.

The syntax for defining a numeric data type is identical to that of a decimal:

NUMERIC(precision, scale)

Precision and Scale Considerations

When choosing the precision and scale for a decimal or numeric data type, it is important to consider the range of values you need to store and the desired level of precision. Keep in mind that increasing the precision will require more storage space.

If you require a high level of precision, choose a higher value for the precision. However, be cautious not to use an excessive precision as it may result in unnecessary storage overhead.

Similarly, if you only need a few digits after the decimal point, choose a lower value for the scale. This will help optimize storage space and improve performance.


In SQL Server, the decimal and numeric data types are used for storing decimal numbers with different levels of precision and scale. By carefully considering your requirements and choosing the appropriate data type, you can ensure accurate calculations and efficient storage of decimal values in your SQL Server database.

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