I am trying to learn the best way to write queries. I also understand the importance of being consistent. Until now, I have randomly used single quotes, double quotes, and backticks without any real thought.
$query = 'INSERT INTO table (id, col1, col2) VALUES (NULL, val1, val2)';
Also, in the above example, consider that
val1, etc. may be variables.
What is the standard for this? What do you do?
I’ve been reading answers to similar questions on here for about 20 minutes, but it seems like there is no definitive answer to this question.
Backticks are to be used for table and column identifiers, but are only necessary when the identifier is a MySQL reserved keyword, or when the identifier contains whitespace characters or characters beyond a limited set (see below) It is often recommended to avoid using reserved keywords as column or table identifiers when possible, avoiding the quoting issue.
Single quotes should be used for string values like in the
VALUES() list. Double quotes are supported by MySQL for string values as well, but single quotes are more widely accepted by other RDBMS, so it is a good habit to use single quotes instead of double.
MySQL also expects
DATETIME literal values to be single-quoted as strings like
'2001-01-01 00:00:00'. Consult the Date and Time Literals documentation for more details, in particular alternatives to using the hyphen
- as a segment delimiter in date strings.
So using your example, I would double-quote the PHP string and use single quotes on the values
NULL is a MySQL keyword, and a special (non)-value, and is therefore unquoted.
None of these table or column identifiers are reserved words or make use of characters requiring quoting, but I’ve quoted them anyway with backticks (more on this later…).
Functions native to the RDBMS (for example,
NOW() in MySQL) should not be quoted, although their arguments are subject to the same string or identifier quoting rules already mentioned.
Backtick (`) table & column ───────┬─────┬──┬──┬──┬────┬──┬────┬──┬────┬──┬───────┐ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ $query = "INSERT INTO `table` (`id`, `col1`, `col2`, `date`, `updated`) VALUES (NULL, 'val1', 'val2', '2001-01-01', NOW())"; ↑↑↑↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑↑↑↑↑ Unquoted keyword ─────┴┴┴┘ │ │ │ │ │ │ │││││ Single-quoted (') strings ───────────┴────┴──┴────┘ │ │ │││││ Single-quoted (') DATE ───────────────────────────┴──────────┘ │││││ Unquoted function ─────────────────────────────────────────┴┴┴┴┘
The quoting patterns for variables do not change, although if you intend to interpolate the variables directly in a string, it must be double-quoted in PHP. Just make sure that you have properly escaped the variables for use in SQL. (It is recommended to use an API supporting prepared statements instead, as protection against SQL injection).
// Same thing with some variable replacements // Here, a variable table name $table is backtick-quoted, and variables // in the VALUES list are single-quoted $query = "INSERT INTO `$table` (`id`, `col1`, `col2`, `date`) VALUES (NULL, '$val1', '$val2', '$date')";
When working with prepared statements, consult the documentation to determine whether or not the statement’s placeholders must be quoted. The most popular APIs available in PHP, PDO and MySQLi, expect unquoted placeholders, as do most prepared statement APIs in other languages:
// PDO example with named parameters, unquoted $query = "INSERT INTO `table` (`id`, `col1`, `col2`, `date`) VALUES (:id, :col1, :col2, :date)"; // MySQLi example with ? parameters, unquoted $query = "INSERT INTO `table` (`id`, `col1`, `col2`, `date`) VALUES (?, ?, ?, ?)";
Characters requring backtick quoting in identifiers:
According to MySQL documentation, you do not need to quote (backtick) identifiers using the following character set:
[0-9,a-z,A-Z$_](basic Latin letters, digits 0-9, dollar, underscore)
You can use characters beyond that set as table or column identifiers, including whitespace for example, but then you must quote (backtick) them.
There are two types of quotes in MySQL:
'for enclosing string literals
`for enclosing identifiers such as table and column names
And then there is
" which is a special case. It could be used for one of above-mentioned purposes at a time depending on MySQL server’s
- By default the
"character can be used to enclose string literals just like
"character can be used to enclose identifiers just like
The following query will produce different results (or errors) depending on SQL mode:
SELECT "column" FROM table WHERE foo = "bar"
The query will select the string literal
"column" where column
foo is equal to string
The query will select the column
column where column
foo is equal to column
When to use what
- I suggest that you avoid using
"so that your code becomes independent of SQL modes
- Always quote identifiers since it is a good practice (quite a few questions on SO discuss this)
(There are good answers above regarding the SQL nature of your question, but this may also be relevant if you are new to PHP.)
Perhaps it is important to mention that PHP handles single and double quoted strings differently…
Single-quoted strings are ‘literals’ and are pretty much WYSIWYG strings. Double-quoted strings are interpreted by PHP for possible variable-substitution (backticks in PHP are not exactly strings; they execute a command in the shell and return the result).
$foo = "bar"; echo 'there is a $foo'; // There is a $foo echo "there is a $foo"; // There is a bar echo `ls -l`; // ... a directory list
Backticks are generally used to indicate an
identifier and as well be safe from accidentally using the Reserved Keywords.
Here the backticks will help the server to understand that the
database is in fact the name of the database, not the database identifier.
Same can be done for the table names and field names. This is a very good habit if you wrap your database identifier with backticks.
Check this answer to understand more about backticks.
Now about Double quotes & Single Quotes (Michael has already mentioned that).
But, to define a value you have to use either single or double quotes. Lets see another example.
INSERT INTO `tablename` (`id, `title`) VALUES ( NULL, title1);
Here I have deliberately forgotten to wrap the
title1 with quotes. Now the server will take the
title1 as a column name (i.e. an identifier). So, to indicate that it’s a value you have to use either double or single quotes.
INSERT INTO `tablename` (`id, `title`) VALUES ( NULL, 'title1');
Now, in combination with PHP, double quotes and single quotes make your query writing time much easier. Let’s see a modified version of the query in your question.
$query = "INSERT INTO `table` (`id`, `col1`, `col2`) VALUES (NULL, '$val1', '$val2')";
Now, using double quotes in the PHP, you will make the variables
$val2 to use their values thus creating a perfectly valid query. Like
$val1 = "my value 1"; $val2 = "my value 2"; $query = "INSERT INTO `table` (`id`, `col1`, `col2`) VALUES (NULL, '$val1', '$val2')";
INSERT INTO `table` (`id`, `col1`, `col2`) VALUES (NULL, 'my value 1', 'my value 2')
In MySQL, these symbols are used to delimit a query
'are used for enclosing string-like values
'26-01-2014 00:00:00'. These symbols are only for strings, not aggregate functions like
`is used for enclosing table or column names, e.g.
select `column_name` from `table_name` where id='2'
)simply enclose parts of a query e.g.
select `column_name` from `table_name` where (id='2' and gender='male') or name='rakesh'.
The string literals in MySQL and PHP are the same.
A string is a sequence of bytes or characters, enclosed within either
single quote (“’”) or double quote (“””) characters.
So if your string contains single quotes, then you could use double quotes to quote the string, or if it contains double quotes, then you could use single quotes to quote the string. But if your string contains both single quotes and double quotes, you need to escape the one that used to quote the string.
Mostly, we use single quotes for an SQL string value, so we need to use double quotes for a PHP string.
$query = "INSERT INTO table (id, col1, col2) VALUES (NULL, 'val1', 'val2')";
And you could use a variable in PHP’s double-quoted string:
$query = "INSERT INTO table (id, col1, col2) VALUES (NULL, '$val1', '$val2')";
$val2 contains single quotes, that will make your SQL be wrong. So you need to escape it before it is used in sql; that is what
mysql_real_escape_string is for. (Although a prepared statement is better.)
In combination of PHP and MySQL, double quotes and single quotes make your query-writing time so much easier.
$query = "INSERT INTO `table` (`id`, `col1`, `col2`) VALUES (NULL, '$val1', '$val2')";
Now, suppose you are using a direct post variable into the MySQL query then, use it this way:
$query = "INSERT INTO `table` (`id`, `name`, `email`) VALUES (' ".$_POST['id']." ', ' ".$_POST['name']." ', ' ".$_POST['email']." ')";
This is the best practice for using PHP variables into MySQL.
There has been many helpful answers here, generally culminating into two points.
- BACKTICKS(`) are used around identifier names.
- SINGLE QUOTES(‘) are used around values.
AND as @MichaelBerkowski said
Backticks are to be used for table and column identifiers, but are
only necessary when the identifier is a
MySQLreserved keyword, or
when the identifier contains whitespace characters or characters
beyond a limited set (see below) It is often recommended to avoid
using reserved keywords as column or table identifiers when possible,
avoiding the quoting issue.
There is a case though where an identifier can neither be a reserved keyword or contain whitespace or characters beyond limited set but necessarily require backticks around them.
123E10 is a valid identifier name but also a valid
[Without going into detail how you would get such an identifier name], Suppose I want to create a temporary table named
No ERROR on backticks.
DB [XXX]> create temporary table `123456e6` (`id` char (8)); Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.03 sec)
ERROR when not using backticks.
DB [XXX]> create temporary table 123451e6 (`id` char (8)); ERROR 1064 (42000): You have an error in your SQL syntax; check the manual that corresponds to your MariaDB server version for the right syntax to use near '123451e6 (`id` char (8))' at line 1
123451a6 is a perfectly fine identifier name (without back ticks).
DB [XXX]> create temporary table 123451a6 (`id` char (8)); Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.03 sec)
This is completely because
1234156e6 is also an exponential number.
If table cols and values are variables then there are two ways:
With double quotes
"" the complete query:
$query = "INSERT INTO $table_name (id, $col1, $col2) VALUES (NULL, '$val1', '$val2')";
$query = "INSERT INTO ".$table_name." (id, ".$col1.", ".$col2.") VALUES (NULL, '".$val1."', '".$val2."')";
With single quotes
$query = 'INSERT INTO '.$table_name.' (id, '.$col1.', '.$col2.') VALUES (NULL, '.$val1.', '.$val2.')';
Use back ticks
`` when a column/value name is similar to a MySQL reserved keyword.
Note: If you are denoting a column name with a table name then use back ticks like this:
`column_name` <– Note: exclude
. from back ticks.
Single quotes should be used for string values like in the VALUES() list.
Backticks are generally used to indicate an identifier and as well be safe from accidentally using the reserved keywords.
In combination of PHP and MySQL, double quotes and single quotes make your query writing time so much easier.
Besides all of the (well-explained) answers, there hasn’t been the following mentioned and I visit this Q&A quite often.
In a nutshell; MySQL thinks you want to do math on its own table/column and interprets hyphens such as “e-mail” as
Disclaimer: So I thought I would add this as an “FYI” type of answer for those who are completely new to working with databases and who may not understand the technical terms described already.
SQL servers and MySQL, PostgreySQL, Oracle don’t understand double quotes(“). Thus your query should be free from double quotes(“) and should only use single quotes(‘).
Back-trip(`) is optional to use in SQL and is used for table name, db name and column names.
If you are trying to write query in your back-end to call MySQL then you can use double quote(“) or single quotes(‘) to assign query to a variable like:
let query = "select id, name from accounts"; //Or let query = 'select id, name from accounts';
If ther’s a
where statement in your query and/or trying to
insert a value and/or an
update of value which is string use single quote(‘) for these values like:
let querySelect = "select id, name from accounts where name = 'John'"; let queryUpdate = "update accounts set name = 'John' where id = 8"; let queryInsert = "insert into accounts(name) values('John')"; //Please not that double quotes are only to be used in assigning string to our variable not in the query //All these below will generate error let querySelect = 'select id, name from accounts where name = "John"'; let queryUpdate = 'update accounts set name = "John" where id = 8'; let queryInsert = 'insert into accounts(name) values("John")'; //As MySQL or any SQL doesn't understand double quotes("), these all will generate error.
If you want to stay out of this confusion when to use double quotes(“) and single quotes(‘), would recommend to stick with single quotes(‘) this will include backslash() like:
let query = 'select is, name from accounts where name = \'John\'';
Problem with double(“) or single(‘) quotes arise when we had to assign some value dynamic and perform some string concatenation like:
let query = "select id, name from accounts where name = " + fName + " " + lName; //This will generate error as it must be like name = 'John Smith' for SQL //However our statement made it like name = John Smith //In order to resolve such errors use let query = "select id, name from accounts where name = '" + fName + " " + lName + "'"; //Or using backslash(\) let query = 'select id, name from accounts where name = \'' + fName + ' ' + lName + '\'';