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Retrieving Columns of Data with SQL

by Ron Kurtus (revised 17 March 2016)

You can use SQL to retrieve the columns of a database table with the SELECT statement.

You can retrieve all columns, a single column, or several specific columns. It is then up to your programming language to display that data.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Retrieve all columns

You can query a database to retrieve all the elements in a database table by using the SELECT statement and wildcard (*) indicator.

FROM table_name;

Note: It is standard practice to add ";" at the end of your SQL query. Some databases require it and some don't.


FROM parts_information;

resulting in:

id part part_no cost
1 hood 03-060 500
2 fender 07-340 750
3 bumper 05-021 135

Retrieve single column

The most common query from a database is to collect or retrieve all the elements in a specific column of the database table.

SELECT column_name
FROM table_name;


FROM parts_information

resulting in:


Retrieve several select columns

You can also retrieve data from several columns by separating the column names with a comma.

SELECT column_1, column_2, column_7
FROM table_name;

Note: Do not place a comma after the last item in the list, because it will result in an error message.


SELECT part, cost
FROM parts_information;


part cost
hood 500
fender 750
bumper 135


The SELECT statement is used to retrieve the columns of a database table. You can retrieve all columns, a single column, or several specific columns.

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