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Don Burleson Blog 







How to find leading and trailing spaces in a varchar2 column

Oracle Database Tips by Donald BurlesonAugust 12,  2015

Question:  How do I write a query to check whether a column (varchar2) has leading spaces or trailing spaces around the text value?

Answer:  Finding leading spaces in a table column is easy with the substr function:

select mycol from mytab where substr(mycol,1,1) = ' ';

Finding trailing spaces is more challenging.  Oracle ACE Laurent Schneider provided this elegant solution to finding leading spaces and trailing spaces in a varchar2 column:

select mycol from mytab where mycol like '% ' or c like ' %';

Reader Comments:

Trailing spaces, in addition to leading spaces, can also be found using the substr function:

 select mycol from mytab where substr(mycol,1,1) = ' ' or substr(mycol,-1,1) = ' ';
Carmelinda Richard

It should also be added that, with Oracle 11, if there are concerns with more than one possible whitespace characters before or after a text value then the new REGEXP_LIKE functionality is far superior to checking for each possible character value with the techniques offered (e.g.) Also checking for leading/trailing tabs, newlines, etc.

select mycol from mytab where


Will catch any space characters (nonprinting), such as space, carriage return, newline, vertical tab, and form feed If all you want to check for is the space character, you can also do that with regexp_like:

select mycol from mytab where regexp_like(mycol,'(^ | $)');

However I have generally found this to run slower than the already offered options in this tip for such a simple test. The power of REGEXP is better suited for more complex checks.

 Mike Broughton
Oracle Consultant





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