SQL Data Types Cheat Sheet: A Comprehensive Guide for Database Enthusiasts

BY Jaber Posted August 10, 2023 Update August 14, 2023
SQL Data Types Cheat Sheet: A Comprehensive Guide for Database Enthusiasts

Learn everything you need to know about SQL data types with our comprehensive cheat sheet. Perfect for beginners and experts alike, this guide is your one-stop resource for mastering SQL data types.

Table of Contents

Introduction to SQL and Data Types

What is SQL?

SQL, or Structured Query Language, is the de facto standard for managing and interacting with databases. It's like the Swiss Army knife of the data world, indispensable for everything from simple data retrieval to complex manipulations and aggregations.

Understanding Data Types in SQL

In SQL, data types are like the DNA of your data. They define the kind of data you can store in a database, from numbers and text to dates and binary data. Knowing your data types is critical for creating efficient, reliable, and secure database systems.

Numeric Data Types

Integer Types

In SQL, there are several integer types, including SMALLINT, INTEGER, and BIGINT. The difference lies in the storage size and the range of values they can hold. It's like choosing between a mug, a jug, and a barrel—each has its capacity.

Floating-Point Types

These data types, such as FLOAT and DOUBLE, are for storing numbers with decimals. Think of them like digital measuring cups, allowing for exact quantities with a precision down to the smallest fraction.

Fixed-Point Types

DECIMAL and NUMERIC are fixed-point types that can store a specific number of digits both before and after the decimal point. It's a bit like a bank account balance; you wouldn't want those pennies rounded off, would you?

Date and Time Data Types


The DATE data type is for storing dates. It's like your calendar but in your database, tracking the days, months, and years.


The TIME type, as you might guess, is for storing time. Just like a digital clock, it stores hours, minutes, and seconds.


TIMESTAMP combines the best of DATE and TIME. It's like a timestamp on a letter—it shows when it was received down to the second.

Character and String Data Types


CHAR is for storing fixed-length strings. If you're storing something that always has the same length, like a US postal code, CHAR is your guy.


Unlike CHAR, VARCHAR is for variable-length strings. Think of it like a piece of stretchy string—adjusting its length according to the data stored.


TEXT is a string type for storing large amounts of text. It's like a notebook, giving you lots of space to jot down your thoughts.

Other Essential SQL Data Types


BOOLEAN represents truth values, storing either true or false. It's the binary of the data world, like a yes/no or on/off switch.


BINARY types are used for storing raw binary data, like images or files. Think of them as a digital storage box for your non-text data.


ENUM lets you define a list of possible values for a column, and only those values can be stored. It's like a menu in a restaurant—you have to choose from the options provided.


In SQL, NULL is a special marker used to indicate that a data value does not exist in the database. It's the equivalent of a blank space on a form—it simply means nothing is there.

Choosing the Right Data Type

Choosing the right data type is like packing for a trip. You wouldn't bring a winter coat to a beach vacation, would you? The same logic applies here. By understanding the nature of your data, you can choose the most appropriate data type, saving space and optimizing performance.


Knowing your SQL data types is crucial, akin to knowing your ABCs when learning to read. With this handy cheat sheet, you now have a map to navigate the diverse landscape of SQL data types. Happy querying!


What is the difference between CHAR and VARCHAR?

CHAR is for fixed-length strings, while VARCHAR is for variable-length strings.

What data type should I use for storing monetary values?

You should use the DECIMAL or NUMERIC data types as they provide the exact precision needed for monetary values.

What is the use of ENUM data type?

ENUM is used when you need to limit the values in a column to a specific set of options.

How does the BOOLEAN data type work in SQL?

The BOOLEAN data type stores two-state values such as true/false, yes/no, on/off.

What does NULL represent in SQL?

NULL in SQL represents that a data value does not exist or is missing in the database.

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