SQL LEN (Transact SQL)

By: Kris Wenzel   |   Updated: March 6, 2022  
Works With: 

The SQL LEN function returns the number of characters within a string.  Keep in mind the count of characters returned does not include training spaces.


The SQL LEN function return the length of a string (number of characters).  It does not include trailing spaces.

The LEN function returns the number of characters in a string. In the following example you can see that the length of “SQL Server” is 10.

Visual Explanation of the LEN function.
Example of the LEN function

Length is rarely used on its own.  It is used mainly in conjunction with other functions, such as LEFT and RIGHT.

In this example, we’ll use the HumanResource.Employee table for our examples.

Employee Example Data for SQL LEN function

Using the data above, let’s use LEN to find out the number of characters within JobTitle:

SQL LEN Usage Notes

  • The LEN function does not count spaces at the end of the string.
  • The result of LEN(NULL)  is NULL.
  • LEN returns an integer, except when using the max data length, such as VARCHAR(MAX).  In this case it returns bigint.
  • Use DATALENGTH to return number of bytes used within string.



Where string is constant, variable, or column of either character or binary data.

SQL LEN Examples

Return the length of a string using LEN:

Return the length of a string containing trailing spaces:

Using LEN within a where clause. Return job titles with 15 or more characters:

What is the length of a NULL string?

See Also

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}