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How to Filter Query Results

In today’s lesson you’re going to learn how to filter query results using the WHERE clause.  This clause is important as only those records matching the where clause’s conditions are returned in the query results. The objectives of today’s lesson are to:

  • Learn about various condition types, such as Equality, Range, and Membership
  • Comprehensive example with Select, Where, and Order By
  • Successfully complete the exercises

Important! Please follow along and do the examples in your database.  If you haven’t already done so, sign up for my Guide to Getting Started with SQL Server.  You get instructions on how to install the free tools and sample database.

The WHERE Clause

A where clause is a condition that must be met in order for a row to be returned in a query.  A simple example of a Select statement with a where clause is Select CustomerName from Customers Where State = ’MI’ In this example only customers in the state or Michigan are selected.

In order for a row to be returned the expression State = ’MI’ must be true, that is State must equal ‘MI’ In general a row is included in a result when the where clause condition is true. The condition of a where clause can be made up of one or more tests.

Through the use of Boolean logic (Discussed in more Detail in Lesson 4) you can combine these tests to form complex comparisons between one or more columns or expressions. In this lesson we’ll cover three types of conditions:  Equality, Range and Membership.

Equality Conditions
An equality condition tests that a column or expression matches a value.  As you may expect, the equal sign is used to form an equality.  It the following SQL statement we are returning all Persons whose title is Mr.

SELECT FirstName,
LastName
FROM   Person.Person
WHERE  Title = 'Mr.'

Other examples of equality conditions include:

  • Quantity = 30
  • UnitPrice = .25
  • City = ‘El Paso’

You may have noticed that numbers are written as is, however text is enclosed in single quotes. You can also incorporate expressions into an equality condition.  For example if your data was inconsistent and states in the database are in various capitalization combination like ‘mi’, ‘MI’, and ‘mI’, which are all different values as far as an equality is concerned, you could compare the uppercase version to be safe.  To do so your condition would be

Upper(State) = 'MI'

That way regardless of however your state was capitalized, it would always evaluate to all caps and then safely compared to the proper abbreviation of the state.

Inequalities

Sometimes you need to exclude a value.  To do this you can use an inequality.  The operator for this is <>.  Example of inequalities are:

  • State <> ‘MI’
  • Quantity <> 0

If you were to return all persons whose title wasn’t ‘Mr. ‘, then your query would be

SELECT FirstName,
       LastName
FROM   Person.Person
WHERE  Title <> 'Mr.'

 Tip! I remember that <> stands for not equals by seeing that the < and > oppose each other.

Range Conditions

Sometime you want to know when a value falls within a range, such as quantities greater than 10.  The range conditions we are most interested in are greater than, less than, and between. The operators to perform the various test are:

  • > (greater than)
  • >=  (greater than or equal to)
  • < (less than)
  • <= (less than or equal to)
  • BETWEEN

Consider our Purchasing.PurchaseOrderDetail table.  If you want to know orders where the order quantity is more than 10, then test using

OrderQty > 10

To include order quantities of 10 test using

OrderQty >= 10

This work just as well with text as with numbers.  The condition

LastName < 'Nixon'

returns all persons whose last name is before Nixon.  To include Nixon you would write

LastName <= 'Nixon'

Thus to find all persons with a last name less than or equal to Nixon you would write

SELECT FirstName,
       LastName
FROM   Person.Person
WHERE  LastName <= 'Nixon'

You can also use expressions.  To find all OrderDetails with a TotalPrice more than 100 dollars, your query would look like

SELECT PurchaseOrderID,
       PurchaseOrderDetailID,
       ProductID,
       UnitPrice,
       OrderQty,
       UnitPrice * OrderQty AS TotalPrice
FROM   Purchasing.PurchaseOrderDetail
WHERE  UnitPrice * OrderQty >= 100

But what if you want to TotalPrices that fall within 100 and 200 dollars? How can you pull this one off?  Well there are actually a couple of ways, but the one we’ll talk about now is the Between operator. The between operator is used in a condition as

UnitPrice * OrderQty BETWEEN 100 and 200

As you probably suspect, you can also use it for test as well.  If you’re looking for all the states between a and c you would

States BETWEEN 'A' and 'CZ'

In the above example I used 'CZ' since all state abbreviations are two characters and I know all states abbreviations, such as, Connecticut's (CT), is before CZ.

Back to our TotalPrice example the full statement for this queries is

SELECT PurchaseOrderID,
       PurchaseOrderDetailID,
       ProductID,
       UnitPrice,
       OrderQty,
       UnitPrice * OrderQty AS TotalPrice
FROM   Purchasing.PurchaseOrderDetail
WHERE  UnitPrice * OrderQty BETWEEN 100 AND 200

Note that the BETWEEN operator is inclusive, that is it includes both the beginning and ending value.

!Trivia: Is some versions of SQL you can use a column alias, such as TotalPrice, in the WHERE clause.  Unfortunately that isn’t the case with SQL Server.

Membership Conditions

The last condition type to learn about in this lesson is the membership type.  The membership type condition allows you to conduct multiple match tests compactly in one statement.  For instance, consider if you have a couple of JobTitles you want to include in a query result.   In this case you could use the in operator to find all matches

JobTitle IN ('Accountant', 'Buyer', 'Stocker')

The above will match or return if the JobTitle  title is either ‘Accountant’, ‘Buyer’, or ‘Stocker’.  To use the IN comparison operator separate the items you wish to test for with commas and be sure to enclose them in parenthesis.  The full SQL statement for our example is

SELECT NationalIDNumber,
       OrganizationNode,
       JobTitle
FROM   HumanResources.Employee
WHERE  JobTitle IN ('Accountant', 'Buyer', 'Stocker') 

Comprehensive Example

Now lets hook it all together with an example to both filter and sort a query. The overall structure for the select statement is

SELECT columns
FROM Table
WHERE WhereClause
ORDER BY Columns

In the prior section the query to select contacts who were owners is:

SELECT NationalIDNumber,
       OrganizationNode,
       JobTitle
FROM   HumanResources.Employee
WHERE  JobTitle IN ('Accountant', 'Buyer', 'Stocker')

To sort by JobTitle just add an ORDER BY clause as

SELECT   NationalIDNumber,
         OrganizationNode,
         JobTitle
FROM     HumanResources.Employee
WHERE    JobTitle IN ('Accountant', 'Buyer', 'Stocker')
ORDER BY JobTitle

Exercises

It’s important to practice! Use the sample database to answer these questions.

  1. Select PurchaseOrderDetailID, due date, and order quantity for all purchase order detail items whose order quantity is less than  are less than 100
  2. Select PurchaseOrderDetailID, due date, and order quantity for all purchase order detail items whose order quantity is between 1 and 10
  3. Find all Persons whose first name is “Ken”
  4. Find all productIDs from PurchaseOrders  421, 424, 142

 

Answers are Here!

 

 

Congratulations!  You just learned how to filter query results using the where clause.  More tutorials are to follow! Remember!  I want to remind you all that if you have other questions you want answered, then post a comment or tweet me.  I’m here to help you. What other topics would you like to know more about?

Kris Wenzel
 

Kris Wenzel has been working with databases over the past 28 years as a developer, analyst, and DBA. He has a BSE in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the University of Notre Dame. Kris has written hundreds of blog articles and many online courses. He is loves helping others learn SQL.

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