Jay Jay - 5 months ago 8
SQL Question

SQL Server 2008 query to find rows containing non-alphanumeric chararacters in a column

I was actually asked this myself a few weeks ago, whereas I know exactly how to do this with a SP or UDF but I was wondering if there was a quick and easy way of doing this without these methods, I'm assuming that there is and I just can't find it.

A point I need to make is that although we know what characters are allowed (a-z, A-Z, 0-9) we don't want to specify what is not allowed (#@!$ etc...). Also, we want to pull the rows which have the illegal characters so that it can be listed to the user to fix (as we have no control over the input process we can't do anything at that point).

I have looked through SO and google previously, but was unable to find anything which did what I wanted. I have seen many examples which can tell you if it contains alpha-numeric characters, or doesn't, but something that is able to pull out an apostrophe in a sentence I have not found in query form.

Please note also that values can be

null
or
''
(empty) in this varchar column.

Answer

Won't this do it?

SELECT * FROM TABLE
WHERE COLUMN_NAME LIKE '%[^a-zA-Z0-9]%'

Setup

use tempdb
create table mytable ( mycol varchar(40) NULL)

insert into mytable VALUES ('abcd')
insert into mytable VALUES ('ABCD')
insert into mytable VALUES ('1234')
insert into mytable VALUES ('efg%^&hji')
insert into mytable VALUES (NULL)
insert into mytable VALUES ('')
insert into mytable VALUES ('apostrophe '' in a sentence') 

SELECT * FROM mytable
WHERE mycol LIKE '%[^a-zA-Z0-9]%'

drop table mytable

Results

mycol
----------------------------------------
efg%^&hji
apostrophe ' in a sentence
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