Click here to Skip to main content
Click here to Skip to main content

An Easy But Effective Way to Split a String using Transact-SQL

By , 9 Aug 2009
Rate this:
Please Sign up or sign in to vote.

Figure: Output


In this article, I will demonstrate how to split a string using Transact-SQL.


String manipulation is pretty interesting for most software developers. To split a string by using a user defined delimiter is nothing new for programmers. Even Microsoft .NET Frameworks provide us a huge "Standard Techniques" for doing this. But if we want to split a string using Transact -SQL, then how can we achieve this?

Using the Code

It is very simple to use. We just need some basic concepts on the following:


Returns the starting position of the specified expression in a character string.

CHARINDEX ( expression1 , expression2 [ , start_location ] ) 

expression1: An expression containing the sequence of characters to be found. expression1 is an expression of the short character data type category.

expression2: An expression, usually a column searched for the specified sequence. expression2 is of the character string data type category.

start_location: The character position to start searching for expression1 in expression2. If start_location is not given, is a negative number, or is zero, the search starts at the beginning of expression2.

Return Types: int

USE pubs
SELECT CHARINDEX('wonderful', notes)
FROM titles
WHERE title_id = 'TC3218'

More details can be found at this link.


Returns part of a character, binary, text, or image expression for more information about the valid Microsoft® SQL Server™ data types that can be used with this function.

SUBSTRING ( expression , start , length ) 

Expression: A character string, binary string, text, image, a column, or an expression that includes a column. Do not use expressions that include aggregate functions.

Start: An integer that specifies where the SUBSTRING begins.

Length: An integer that specifies the length of the SUBSTRING (the number of characters or bytes to return).

Note: Because start and length specify the number of bytes when SUBSTRING is used on text data, DBCS data, such as Kanji, may result in split characters at the beginning or end of the result. This behavior is consistent with the way in which READTEXT handles DBCS. However, because of the occasional strange result, it is advisable to use ntext instead of text for DBCS characters.

Return Types: Returns character data if expression is one of the supported character data types. Returns binary data if expression is one of the supported binary data types.

USE pubs
SELECT au_lname, SUBSTRING(au_fname, 1, 1)
FROM authors
ORDER BY au_lname

More details can be found at this link.

I wrote a simple function named SPLITE which will split an expression using CHARINDEX and SUBSTRING functions. A sample code example is given below:

Sample Example

            set QUOTED_IDENTIFIER ON
-- =============================================
-- Author: Md. Marufuzzaman
-- Create date: 
-- Description: Split an expression. 
-- Note: If you are using SQL Server 2000, You need to change the 
-- length (MAX) to your maximum expression length of each datatype.
-- =============================================
SELECT * FROM [dbo].[SPLIT] (';','I love codeProject;!!!;Your development resources')
      @LIST      VARCHAR(MAX) 
         [VALUE] VARCHAR(MAX) 
      WHILE LEN( @LIST ) > 0 
            SELECT @LENSTRING = 
               (CASE CHARINDEX( @DELIMITER, @LIST ) 
                   WHEN 0 THEN LEN( @LIST ) 
                   ELSE ( CHARINDEX( @DELIMITER, @LIST ) -1 )
            SELECT @LIST = 
               (CASE ( LEN( @LIST ) - @LENSTRING ) 
                   WHEN 0 THEN '' 
                   ELSE RIGHT( @LIST, LEN( @LIST ) - @LENSTRING - 1 ) 

Note: I have used some other functions like LNE(), LEFT(), etc. which are very common and I hope that everyone is very much familiar with this. Hence, I did not include this. Actually I do not want to lose focus on the main objective of this article.


I hope that this article might be helpful to you. Enjoy!


  • 9th August 2009: Initial post


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

About the Author

Md. Marufuzzaman
Bangladesh Bangladesh
Follow on   Twitter

Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmembersam2222220-Nov-13 21:56 
GeneralMy vote of 1 PinmemberKrishnendu Gupta13-Nov-13 22:45 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmemberom28-Mar-13 6:49 
GeneralRe: My vote of 5 PinmentorMd. Marufuzzaman28-Mar-13 7:53 
QuestionA simpler (faster?) Split function using XML PinmemberBamboozled21-Nov-12 10:14 
AnswerRe: A simpler (faster?) Split function using XML PinmentorMd. Marufuzzaman23-Nov-12 3:19 
Questionarticle: An Easy But Effective Way to Split a String using Transact-SQL PinmemberSupriya Srivastav8-Dec-11 18:37 
AnswerRe: article: An Easy But Effective Way to Split a String using Transact-SQL PinmvpMd. Marufuzzaman9-Dec-11 4:50 
GeneralGood PinmemberShahadat Alam20-Mar-10 20:17 
GeneralRe: Good PinmvpMd. Marufuzzaman20-Mar-10 20:19 
GeneralMy vote of 1 Pinmemberkookai9-Aug-09 15:58 
slow when split string has 1M length
when split large string should implement CLR assembly and deploy it to sql
GeneralRe: My vote of 1 PingroupMd. Marufuzzaman9-Aug-09 16:36 
GeneralRe: My vote of 1 Pinmemberedobrzel10-Aug-09 5:10 
GeneralRe: My vote of 1 PingroupMd. Marufuzzaman10-Aug-09 5:28 
GeneralRe: My vote of 1 PinmemberRugbyLeague25-Apr-12 21:36 
GeneralRe: My vote of 1 PinmemberErion Pici9-Aug-12 1:14 
GeneralRe: My vote of 1 PinmemberRugbyLeague9-Aug-12 1:15 
GeneralRe: My vote of 1 PinmemberErion Pici9-Aug-12 1:42 

General General    News News    Suggestion Suggestion    Question Question    Bug Bug    Answer Answer    Joke Joke    Rant Rant    Admin Admin   

Use Ctrl+Left/Right to switch messages, Ctrl+Up/Down to switch threads, Ctrl+Shift+Left/Right to switch pages.

| Advertise | Privacy | Mobile
Web03 | 2.8.140415.2 | Last Updated 9 Aug 2009
Article Copyright 2009 by Md. Marufuzzaman
Everything else Copyright © CodeProject, 1999-2014
Terms of Use
Layout: fixed | fluid