What is a NULL Value?

A field with a NULL value is a field with no value.

If a field in a table is optional, it is possible to insert a new record or update a record without adding a value to this field. Then, the field will be saved with a NULL value.

Note: A NULL value is different from a zero value or a field that contains spaces. A field with a NULL value is one that has been left blank during record creation!


How to Test for NULL Values?

It is not possible to test for NULL values with comparison operators, such as =, <, or <>.

We will have to use the IS NULL and IS NOT NULL operators instead.

IS NULL Syntax

SELECT column_names
FROM table_name
WHERE column_name IS NULL; 

IS NOT NULL Syntax

SELECT column_names
FROM table_name
WHERE column_name IS NOT NULL; 

Demo Database

Below is a selection from the “Customers” table in the Northwind sample database:

CustomerIDCustomerNameContactNameAddressCityPostalCodeCountry
1
Alfreds FutterkisteMaria AndersObere Str. 57Berlin12209Germany
2Ana Trujillo Emparedados y heladosAna TrujilloAvda. de la Constitución 2222México D.F.05021Mexico
3Antonio Moreno TaqueríaAntonio MorenoMataderos 2312México D.F.05023Mexico
4
Around the HornThomas Hardy120 Hanover Sq.LondonWA1 1DPUK
5Berglunds snabbköpChristina BerglundBerguvsvägen 8LuleåS-958 22Sweden


The IS NULL Operator

The IS NULL operator is used to test for empty values (NULL values).

The following SQL lists all customers with a NULL value in the “Address” field:

Example

SELECT CustomerName, ContactName, Address
FROM Customers
WHERE Address IS NULL;

Tip: Always use IS NULL to look for NULL values.


The IS NOT NULL Operator

The IS NOT NULL operator is used to test for non-empty values (NOT NULL values).

The following SQL lists all customers with a value in the “Address” field:

Example

SELECT CustomerName, ContactName, Address
FROM Customers
WHERE Address IS NOT NULL;