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SQL NULL Values


What is a NULL Value?

A field with a NULL value is a field with no value.

If a field in a table is optional, it is possible to insert a new record or update a record without adding a value to this field. Then, the field will be saved with a NULL value.

Note: A NULL value is different from a zero value or a field that contains spaces. A field with a NULL value is one that has been left blank during record creation!


How to Test for NULL Values?

It is not possible to test for NULL values with comparison operators, such as =, <, or <>.

We will have to use the IS NULL and IS NOT NULL operators instead.

IS NULL Syntax

SELECT column_names
FROM table_name
WHERE column_name IS NULL;

IS NOT NULL Syntax

SELECT column_names
FROM table_name
WHERE column_name IS NOT NULL;

Demo Database

Below is a selection from the "Customers" table in the Northwind sample database:

CustomerID CustomerName ContactName Address City PostalCode Country
1

Alfreds Futterkiste Maria Anders Obere Str. 57 Berlin 12209 Germany
2 Ana Trujillo Emparedados y helados Ana Trujillo Avda. de la Constitución 2222 México D.F. 05021 Mexico
3 Antonio Moreno Taquería Antonio Moreno Mataderos 2312 México D.F. 05023 Mexico
4

Around the Horn Thomas Hardy 120 Hanover Sq. London WA1 1DP UK
5 Berglunds snabbköp Christina Berglund Berguvsvägen 8 Luleå S-958 22 Sweden


The IS NULL Operator

The IS NULL operator is used to test for empty values (NULL values).

The following SQL lists all customers with a NULL value in the "Address" field:

Example

SELECT CustomerName, ContactName, Address
FROM Customers
WHERE Address IS NULL;
Try it Yourself »

Tip: Always use IS NULL to look for NULL values.


The IS NOT NULL Operator

The IS NOT NULL operator is used to test for non-empty values (NOT NULL values).

The following SQL lists all customers with a value in the "Address" field:

Example

SELECT CustomerName, ContactName, Address
FROM Customers
WHERE Address IS NOT NULL;
Try it Yourself »

Test Yourself With Exercises

Exercise:

Select all records from the Customers where the PostalCode column is empty.

SELECT * FROM Customers
WHERE   ;

Start the Exercise