set column to not null mysql with code examples


In MySQL, columns in a table can have a value of NULL by default. However, there may be times when you want to ensure that a column cannot have a NULL value. In such cases, you can set the column to be "NOT NULL". This article will show you how to set a column to be "NOT NULL" in MySQL, along with examples.

Why Set a Column to Not Null?

Setting a column to be "NOT NULL" ensures that the column must have a value at all times. This helps improve data integrity and avoids any ambiguity in the data. Suppose you have a table for recording the personal information of employees, and the "name" column is set to allow NULL values. In such cases, it is possible for an entry to exist in the table without a name, which may not be desirable for many reasons. By setting the column to be "NOT NULL," you can ensure that each entry in the table has a name value associated with it.

Setting the Column to Not Null

To set a column to be "NOT NULL", you need to use the ALTER TABLE statement. The syntax is as follows:

ALTER TABLE table_name MODIFY column_name data_type NOT NULL;

Here, "table_name" refers to the name of the table in question, and "column_name" refers to the name of the column you want to modify. "data_type" refers to the data type of the column. Finally, "NOT NULL" sets the column to be "NOT NULL".


Suppose you have a table named "students" with three columns: "id", "name", and "age." The "id" column is set to be the primary key, while "name" and "age" can have NULL values. The table is defined as follows:

CREATE TABLE students (
  name VARCHAR(30),
  age INT(3)

Now, let's say you want to modify the "name" column to be "NOT NULL". The following ALTER TABLE statement can be used:


This statement modifies the "name" column's definition to be VARCHAR(30) and sets it to be "NOT NULL". Therefore, any future entries added to this table must have a value in the name column.


In conclusion, setting a column to be "NOT NULL" prevents NULL values from being entered into that column. This can help maintain data integrity and avoid ambiguity in the data. In MySQL, the ALTER TABLE statement is used to modify a column, and the "NOT NULL" constraint is used to set the column to be "NOT NULL." By following the examples and the syntax mentioned above, it is straightforward to modify columns in MySQL tables.

More About Setting a Column to Not Null in MySQL

When creating a table in MySQL, you can define the columns as NULL or NOT NULL. In some cases, NULL values are necessary, but in other cases, it is better to disallow NULL values to maintain data integrity.

For example, suppose you have a table called "employees" that contains a column called "salary" where you want to disallow NULL values. You can use the following code to modify the "salary" column to be NOT NULL:


This command modifies the data type of the "salary" column to INT(10) and adds the NOT NULL constraint, which disallows the column's NULL value.

Another alternative method of setting columns to NOT NULL is when defining column entries within the CREATE TABLE statement.

CREATE TABLE employees (
   employee_id INT(11) NOT NULL,
   first_name VARCHAR(60) NOT NULL,
   last_name VARCHAR(60) NOT NULL,
   salary DECIMAL(10, 2) NOT NULL,
   hire_date DATE NOT NULL,
   address VARCHAR(255) NULL

Any columns with the NOT NULL constraint must have a value inserted, or an error will occur.

Benefits of Using NOT NULL Columns

There are several benefits of using NOT NULL columns in MySQL:

  • Ensures the presence of data: With a NOT NULL constraint, a column entry must have a value; this avoids having any incomplete or invalid data in your table.

  • Increases data quality: A NOT NULL constraint reduces the risk of data quality issues such as incomplete or missing data, and it improves the reliability of your data.

  • Enforces data consistency: By setting a column to NOT NULL, you are enforcing consistency in the data entered, resulting in a cleaner data structure.

  • Improved performance: NOT NULL columns improve performance by eliminating additional NULL handling, thus reducing database overhead.

In conclusion, by setting columns to NOT NULL and enforcing constraints, data integrity, quality, and consistency can be better maintained, resulting in a more reliable database structure. Plus, the performance is improved by eliminating additional NULL handling, leading to significantly faster querying times.

Popular questions

  1. How do you set a column to "NOT NULL" in MySQL?

To set a column to "NOT NULL" in MySQL, you need to use the ALTER TABLE statement. The syntax is as follows: ALTER TABLE table_name MODIFY column_name data_type NOT NULL. Here, "table_name" refers to the name of the table, "column_name" refers to the name of the column to modify, "data_type" refers to the data type of the column, and "NOT NULL" sets the column to be "NOT NULL".

  1. Why is it important to set columns to "NOT NULL" in MySQL?

Setting columns to "NOT NULL" ensures that the column always has a value, improving data integrity and consistency. It also helps prevent errors resulting from the use of NULL values. Not allowing NULL values will maximize the database's performance, reduce data inconsistency, and ensure the data’s reliability.

  1. Can you set a column to "NOT NULL" when defining it in the table creation statement?

Yes. When defining a column in the CREATE TABLE statement, you can set the NOT NULL constraint to the column to ensure that the column will not take a NULL value. For instance, you can use "salary DECIMAL(10, 2) NOT NULL".

  1. What is the benefit of using NOT NULL columns?

Setting up a column with a NOT NULL constraint ensures the columns always have a value, which improves data integrity and consistency. It also saves storage space in the database, as NULL values take up disk space. It enforces data consistency, which leads to a cleaner data structure. Finally, it improves the querying performance, reducing overheads associated with NULL values.

  1. How does the ALTER TABLE statement work in MySQL?

ALTER TABLE statement changes the table structure to modify the column definitions by adding or removing constraints. For example, you can use the ALTER TABLE statement's MODIFY COLUMN clause to change a column's data type, add or drop a NOT NULL constraint, and add or remove other constraints like UNIQUE, DEFAULT, etc.



As an experienced software engineer, I have a strong background in the financial services industry. Throughout my career, I have honed my skills in a variety of areas, including public speaking, HTML, JavaScript, leadership, and React.js. My passion for software engineering stems from a desire to create innovative solutions that make a positive impact on the world. I hold a Bachelor of Technology in IT from Sri Ramakrishna Engineering College, which has provided me with a solid foundation in software engineering principles and practices. I am constantly seeking to expand my knowledge and stay up-to-date with the latest technologies in the field. In addition to my technical skills, I am a skilled public speaker and have a talent for presenting complex ideas in a clear and engaging manner. I believe that effective communication is essential to successful software engineering, and I strive to maintain open lines of communication with my team and clients.
Posts created 3227

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top