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SQL Server - Wildcards



The SQL Server (Transact-SQL) wildcard character is used to specify one or more character in a string. It is used with LIKE clause and WHERE clause to search for a specified pattern.

Wildcard Characters in SQL Server

SymbolDescriptionExample
%Represents zero, one or multiple characters.'J%' represents a value that start with "J", for example - John, Jo and Jack etc.
_Represents one character.'_o%' represents a value that have "o" in the second position, for example - John, Jo and Journey etc.
[]Represents any single character specified within [].'[ack]%' represents a value that starts with a, c or k, for example - ant, cat or kite etc.
-Represents a range of characters.'[a-d]%' represents a value that starts with a, b, c or d, for example - ant, bat, cat or dog etc.
[^]Represents any character not specified within [].'[^ack]%' represents a value that does not start with a, c or k, for example - bat, dog or rat etc.

The table below describes patterns which is used with LIKE operator and uses (%) and (_).

PatternDescription
'J%'A value that start with "J".
'%n'A value that end with "n".
'%oh%'A value that have "oh" in any position.
'_o%'A value that have "o" in the second position.
'J_%'A value that start with "J" and have at least 2 characters.
'J__%'A value that start with "J" and have at least 3 characters.
'J%n'A value that start with "J" and ends with "n".

Example:

Consider a database containing a table called Employee with the following records:

EmpIDNameCityAgeSalary
1JohnLondon253000
2MarryNew York242750
3JoParis272800
4KimAmsterdam303100
5RameshNew Delhi283000
6HuangBeijing282800

  • Using the % Wildcard : To select all records of the Employee table with Name starting with 'Jo', the query is given below.

    SELECT * FROM Employee
    WHERE Name LIKE 'Jo%';
    

    This will produce the result as shown below:

    EmpIDNameCityAgeSalary
    1JohnLondon253000
    3JoParis272800
  • Using the % Wildcard with NOT LIKE operator: NOT LIKE operator is used as the negation of LIKE operator. For example, to select all records of the Employee table with Name not starting with 'Jo', the following query can be used:

    SELECT * FROM Employee
    WHERE Name NOT LIKE 'Jo%';
    

    This will produce the result as shown below:

    EmpIDNameCityAgeSalary
    2MarryNew York242750
    4KimAmsterdam303100
    5RameshNew Delhi283000
    6HuangBeijing282800
  • Using the _ Wildcard : To select all records of the Employee table with Name containing 'o' as second character, the query is mentioned below.

    SELECT * FROM Employee
    WHERE Name LIKE '_o%';
    

    The result of the above code will be:

    EmpIDNameCityAgeSalary
    1JohnLondon253000
    3JoParis272800
  • Using the [] Wildcard : To select all records of the Employee table with Name starting with 'K', 'R' or 'M', the query is:

    SELECT * FROM Employee
    WHERE Name LIKE '[KRM]%';
    

    The result of the code will be:

    EmpIDNameCityAgeSalary
    2MarryNew York242750
    4KimAmsterdam303100
    5RameshNew Delhi283000
  • Using the ^ Wildcard : To select all records of the Employee table with Name not starting with 'K', 'R' or 'M', the query is:

    SELECT * FROM Employee
    WHERE Name LIKE '[^KRM]%';
    

    The result of the code will be:

    EmpIDNameCityAgeSalary
    1JohnLondon253000
    3JoParis272800
    6HuangBeijing282800
  • Using the - Wildcard : To select all records of the Employee table with Name starting with 'G' to 'J', the query is:

    SELECT * FROM Employee
    WHERE Name LIKE '[G-J]%';
    

    The result produced by the code will be following:

    EmpIDNameCityAgeSalary
    1JohnLondon253000
    3JoParis272800
    6HuangBeijing282800

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