Teaching: 20 min
Exercises: 10 min
  • How can I filter data?

  • Write queries that SELECT data based on conditions, such as END, OR, and NOT.

  • Understand how to use the WHERE clause in a statement.

  • Learn how to use comparison keywords such as LIKE in a statement.


SQL is a powerful tool for filtering data in databases based on a set of conditions. Let’s say we only want data for a specific ISSN, for instance, for the Acta Crystallographica journal from the articles table. The journal has an ISSN code 2056-9890. To filter by this ISSN code, we will use the WHERE clause.

FROM articles
WHERE ISSNs='2056-9890';

We can add additional conditions by using AND, OR, and/or NOT. For example, suppose we want the data on Acta Crystallographica published after October:

FROM articles
WHERE (ISSNs='2056-9890') AND (Month > 10);

Parentheses are used merely for readability in this case but can be required by the SQL interpreter in order to disambiguate formulas.

If we want to get data for the Humanities and Religions journals, which have ISSNs codes “2076-0787” and “2077-1444”, we can combine the tests using OR:

FROM articles
WHERE (issns = '2076-0787') OR (issns = '2077-1444');

When you do not know the entire value you are searching for, you can use comparison keywords such as LIKE, IN, BETWEEN...AND, IS NULL. For instance, we can use LIKE in combination with WHERE to search for data that matches a pattern.

For example, using the articles table again, let’s SELECT all of the data WHERE the Subject contains “Crystal Structure”:

FROM articles
WHERE Subjects LIKE '%Crystal Structure%';

You may have noticed the wildcard character %. It is used to match zero to many characters. So in the SQL statement above, it will match zero or more characters before and after ‘Crystal Structure’.

Let’s see what variations of the term we got. Notice uppercase and lowercase, the addition of ‘s’ at the end of structures, etc.

To learn more about other comparison keywords you can use, see Beginner SQL Tutorial on SQL Comparison Keywords.


Write a query that returns the Title, First_Author, Subjects, ISSNs, Month and Year for all papers where Subjects contains “computer” and that have more than 4 citations.


SELECT Title, First_Author, Subjects, ISSNs, Month, Year
FROM articles
WHERE (Subjects LIKE '%computer%') AND (Citation_Count > 4);

You can continue to add or chain conditions together and write more advanced queries.

Key Points

  • Use WHERE to filter and retrieve data based on specific conditions.

  • Use AND, OR, and NOT to add additional conditions.

  • Use the comparison keyword LIKE and wildcard characters such as % to match patterns.