Skip to main content
Log inGet a demo
Back to SQL Dictionary
Database functions

SQL Auto Increment

What is SQL AUTO INCREMENT?

Auto Increment is a feature in SQL that allows you to automatically generate unique values for a column when new rows are inserted into a table. It's commonly used to create surrogate keys, such as primary keys, that are unique identifiers for each row in a table.

When you would use it

You would use the Auto Increment feature when you need to:

  1. Create Primary Keys: Auto Increment is often used to generate unique primary key values for a table, ensuring each row has a unique identifier.

  2. Avoid Manual Input: It eliminates the need for manually specifying values for auto-incremented columns, reducing the risk of errors.

  3. Simplify Data Entry: It simplifies data entry, as you don't have to provide a value for the auto-incremented column when inserting records.

Syntax

The syntax for defining an Auto Increment column can vary slightly depending on the database management system, but here's a general representation:

CREATE TABLE table_name
(
   column_name data_type AUTO_INCREMENT,
   ...
);
  • table_name: The name of the table.
  • column_name: The name of the column you want to be auto-incremented.
  • data_type: The data type of the column, typically an integer type (e.g., INT, BIGINT).

Parameter values

  • table_name: The name of the table you are creating.
  • column_name: The name of the column that you want to be auto-incremented.
  • data_type: The data type of the column, usually an integer data type like INT or BIGINT.

Example query

Here's an example SQL query to create a table named "employees" with an auto-incremented primary key column "employee_id":

CREATE TABLE employees
(
   employee_id INT AUTO_INCREMENT PRIMARY KEY,
   first_name VARCHAR(50),
   last_name VARCHAR(50),
   ...
);

Example table response

The CREATE TABLE statement does not produce a table response. It's a Data Definition Language (DDL) command used to define the structure of the table. Upon successful execution, it creates the table schema, but it doesn't return data.

Use cases

  1. Primary Key Generation: To create unique primary keys for each row in a table, ensuring data integrity and easy referencing of records.

  2. Simplifying Data Entry: It simplifies data insertion by automatically generating unique values for a column, removing the need for manual input.

  3. Error Reduction: By automatically generating values, it reduces the risk of errors and ensures that each row has a unique identifier.

SQL Languages Availability

The Auto Increment feature is widely available in various SQL-based relational database management systems (RDBMS), including:

  • MySQL
  • PostgreSQL (with the SERIAL data type)
  • Microsoft SQL Server (with the IDENTITY property)
  • Oracle Database (with the SEQUENCE object)
  • IBM Db2
  • SQLite (with the INTEGER PRIMARY KEY)
  • and more.

While the exact syntax and implementation may vary among different database systems, the concept of auto-incrementing columns is common. It's essential to refer to the documentation of your specific RDBMS for precise usage details.

Related

SQL Create Index

SQL Create View

SQL NOW

Share

Book a demo

Work email

Start syncing data in minutes

Check out this 5 minute interactive demo to learn how you can sync customer data to any business tool.

Hightouch Audiences user interface.

Activate your data in less than 5 minutes