SQL Server Uppercase: Everything Dev Needs to Know

Hello Dev! If you’re working with SQL Server, you might have encountered situations where you need to convert text into uppercase. This can be for formatting purposes, or maybe for matching values in a query. Whatever your reason is, this article will guide you on how to do it efficiently in SQL Server.

Understanding Uppercase in SQL Server

In SQL Server, there are several ways to convert text into uppercase. You can use built-in functions, such as UPPER(), or manipulate the data directly. Understanding the differences between these methods can help you choose the right approach for your needs.

The UPPER() Function

The UPPER() function is the most straightforward way to convert text into uppercase in SQL Server. It takes a string as input and returns the same string with all characters capitalized.

Here’s an example:

‘SQL Server’

As you can see, the UPPER() function doesn’t affect non-alphabetic characters, such as digits or punctuation marks. It only capitalizes letters.

You can use the UPPER() function in a SELECT statement to convert text on the fly:

SELECT UPPER(column_name)FROM table_name;

This will return the specified column with all values converted to uppercase.

Manipulating Data Directly

If you need more control over the conversion process, you can manipulate the data directly using SQL Server’s string functions. For example, you can use the SUBSTRING() function to extract a portion of a string and then use the UPPER() function to capitalize it:

UPDATE table_nameSET column_name = UPPER(SUBSTRING(column_name, 1, 1)) + SUBSTRING(column_name, 2, LEN(column_name))WHERE condition;

This will update the specified column by capitalizing the first letter of each value.

Best Practices for Uppercase in SQL Server

Now that you know the basics of uppercase conversion in SQL Server, let’s talk about some best practices:

Use UPPER() for Simple Conversions

If all you need is to convert a string to uppercase, use the UPPER() function. It’s fast, easy, and reliable.

Use String Functions for Complex Conversions

If you need to manipulate the text before or after the conversion, use SQL Server’s string functions. They offer more flexibility than the UPPER() function.

Be Careful with Collation

SQL Server’s collation settings can affect how the uppercase conversion works. Make sure you understand your database’s collation and how it might affect your queries.

Avoid Uppercase in Primary Keys

Uppercase and lowercase letters are considered different in SQL Server. This means that ‘John’ and ‘john’ are two different values. If you’re using text values as primary keys, consider using lowercase only to avoid potential issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I convert only part of a string to uppercase?

A: Yes, you can use the SUBSTRING() function to extract a portion of a string and then use the UPPER() function to capitalize it. For example:

SELECT SUBSTRING(column_name, 1, 3) + UPPER(SUBSTRING(column_name, 4, 1)) + SUBSTRING(column_name, 5, LEN(column_name))FROM table_name;

This will capitalize the fourth letter of each value in the specified column.

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Q: Does uppercase conversion affect performance?

A: In most cases, no. Uppercase conversion is a simple operation that doesn’t require much processing power. However, if you’re manipulating large amounts of data, using string functions directly might be slower than using the UPPER() function.

Q: Can I use uppercase values as foreign keys?

A: Yes, as long as you use the same collation settings for both tables. Remember that SQL Server considers uppercase and lowercase letters as different values, so make sure your data is consistent.

Q: Can I convert values to lowercase using a similar method?

A: Yes, you can use the LOWER() function to convert text to lowercase in SQL Server. It works in the same way as the UPPER() function, but it converts letters to lowercase instead of uppercase.

Q: Can I use uppercase values in SQL Server’s LIKE operator?

A: Yes, the LIKE operator is case-insensitive in SQL Server. This means that ‘John’ and ‘john’ are considered the same value when using LIKE.

Q: Can I use uppercase values in SQL Server’s ORDER BY clause?

A: Yes, SQL Server’s ORDER BY clause is case-sensitive by default. This means that ‘John’ and ‘john’ are considered different values when sorting. However, you can use the COLLATE keyword to specify a case-insensitive collation if needed.


Converting text to uppercase in SQL Server is a simple task, but it’s important to understand the different methods and best practices to do it efficiently. Whether you’re using the built-in UPPER() function or manipulating the data directly, make sure you’re considering collation settings and potential performance issues. By following these guidelines, you can ensure your SQL Server queries are accurate and reliable.