How to Use ROUND Function in SQL Explained with Examples

By Cristian G. Guasch • Updated: 02/09/24 • 11 min read

Navigating the world of SQL can sometimes feel like trying to find your way through a maze. But don’t worry, I’m here to guide you through one of its most useful functions: the ROUND function. This little gem is a game-changer when it comes to managing numerical data, ensuring your results are as precise or as rounded as you need them to be.

I’ll walk you through the ins and outs of using the ROUND function in SQL with practical examples that’ll make it crystal clear. Whether you’re a beginner looking to sharpen your skills or a seasoned pro seeking a quick refresher, you’re in the right place. Let’s dive into the world of SQL rounding and see how it can make your data manipulation tasks a breeze.

What is the ROUND function in SQL?

When diving into the depths of SQL, the ROUND function stands out as a pivotal tool in my data manipulation toolkit. At its core, the ROUND function is used to round a numeric field to the number of decimals specified. This capability is essential for financial calculations, reporting, or any scenario requiring precision in numerical data presentation.

The syntax for the ROUND function is quite straightforward: ROUND(column_name, decimals). Here, column_name refers to the field containing the numeric data you wish to round, and decimals specifies the number of decimal places to round the number to. A key point to remember is that if decimals is negative, the function rounds off to the left of the decimal point.

Let’s dive into some practical examples and variations to clarify how and when to use the ROUND function effectively.

Basic Usage

To illustrate, consider a simple example where I want to round off sales figures to the nearest whole number:

SELECT ROUND(sales, 0) FROM monthly_sales;

Rounding with Decimals

If I need a more precise rounding, say to two decimal places, the query slightly alters:

SELECT ROUND(profit, 2) FROM daily_earnings;

Negative Decimals

For rounding hundreds or thousands, a negative decimal shows its utility:

SELECT ROUND(population, -3) FROM city_demographics;

Common Mistakes

A frequent hiccup arises when users forget that SQL rounds halfway cases away from zero, unlike some other round-to-even strategies. This means ROUND(2.5, 0) returns 3, not 2.

Another common error is not specifying the second parameter, leading to unexpected rounding off to the nearest whole number. Always double-check the decimals parameter to ensure it aligns with your intended precision.

Incorporating the ROUND function in my SQL queries has streamlined my data analysis process, making it easier to present data more accurately and understandably.

Syntax and usage of the ROUND function

Understanding the ROUND function in SQL is essential for anyone dealing with numerical data that needs precise formatting. The syntax for using this function is straightforward, yet powerful. Here’s the basic format:

ROUND(column_name, number_of_decimals)

In this formula, column_name refers to the numeric field you’re aiming to round, and number_of_decimals specifies how many decimal places to round the number to. It’s crucial to remember that if number_of_decimals is positive, the function rounds to the specified number of decimal places. If it’s zero, the function rounds to the nearest whole number. Interestingly, if number_of_decimals is negative, ROUND will round off to the left of the decimal point.

Let me illustrate with some examples. Say we’re working with a table of financial transactions, and we want to round a price column to two decimal places:

SELECT ROUND(price, 2) FROM transactions;

For a more nuanced use case, consider rounding to the nearest thousand in a sales report. Here, we use a negative number for number_of_decimals:

SELECT ROUND(sales_amount, -3) FROM quarterly_sales_report;

Variations to Note

While the ROUND function is generally straightforward, there are a couple of variations and common mistakes to be aware of. First, some users mistakenly believe that ROUND can only deal with positive numbers of decimals. However, as shown above, negative numbers are perfectly valid and useful for rounding to tens, hundreds, or even thousands.

Common Mistakes

One notable pitfall involves not specifying the number_of_decimals parameter, which can lead to unexpected results. Another common error is assuming that ROUND will always round up. It’s important to remember that this function rounds to the nearest value, which means it can round down as well.

-- Incorrect assumption that ROUND always rounds up
SELECT ROUND(2.5, 0) FROM dual; -- This rounds to 3
SELECT ROUND(2.4, 0) FROM dual; -- This rounds to 2

Understanding these nuances and examples can significantly enhance how you present numerical data in SQL, making your analyses more accurate and your reports more reader-friendly.

Rounding to a specific decimal place

When working with financial reports or data analysis, the precision of your numeric data can make or break the clarity of your insights. That’s where rounding to a specific decimal place comes in. Unlike rounding to the nearest whole number, this approach allows for a finer control over your data presentation.

Let’s say I’m dealing with prices or costs, where two decimal places are standard. The syntax for rounding a number in SQL to two decimal places is as straightforward as it gets:

SELECT ROUND(column_name, 2) FROM table_name;

Here, column_name is the field with the numbers I want to round, and 2 is the number of decimal places I’m aiming for.

Let me give you a practical example. Imagine I have a table named Orders with a column OrderPrice. To round all the prices to two decimal places, I’d use:

SELECT ROUND(OrderPrice, 2) FROM Orders;

It’s crucial to understand that SQL rounds half away from zero by default. This means 2.5 becomes 3, and -2.5 becomes -3. This behavior might not always be what I’m after, especially in financial calculations where rounding half down makes more sense.

  • Not specifying the second parameter. Without it, SQL assumes you’re rounding to the nearest whole number.
  • Forgetting that SQL can round negatives and positives differently, which can skew your data unexpectedly.

By paying attention to these details and experimenting with the rounding function, I’ve discovered it’s an invaluable tool for data precision. I can tailor the presentation of numerical data in my SQL queries to the exact requirements of my reports or analysis. This not only ensures accuracy but also enhances the readability and professionalism of the output.

Rounding to the nearest whole number

When working with numerical data in SQL, one of the most common tasks I come across is rounding to the nearest whole number. This operation is straightforward yet pivotal in cleaning and preparing data for analysis or reporting. I’ll walk you through the syntax and provide examples to ensure you get it right.

To round a number to the nearest whole, the SQL ROUND function syntax is as simple as:

ROUND(column_name, 0)

Here, setting the decimal parameter to 0 instructs SQL to round the number in column_name to the nearest whole number. Let’s see it in action:

SELECT ROUND(123.45, 0) AS RoundedNumber;

This query returns 123 as the result, demonstrating how SQL effectively rounds to the nearest whole number.

It’s also useful to know variations and common mistakes to avoid. For instance, consider a negative number:

SELECT ROUND(-123.45, 0) AS RoundedNumber;

The result is -123, illustrating that SQL doesn’t simply strip decimals but follows rounding rules.

A common mistake is forgetting the second parameter, assuming it defaults to 0. In reality, omitting this parameter might lead to unexpected results based on the SQL version or the database being used. Always specify it to ensure clarity and predictable outcomes.

Additionally, it’s worth experimenting with different numbers to see the rounding direction:

SELECT ROUND(123.5, 0) as RoundedUp, ROUND(123.4, 0) as RoundedDown;

This returns 124 for RoundedUp and 123 for RoundedDown, showcasing SQL’s rounding mechanics.

Understanding how to correctly round to the nearest whole number in SQL is essential for data manipulation. By following the examples above and paying attention to the nuances, you’ll be better equipped to handle financial data, generate reports, or clean datasets with confidence and precision. Experimenting with these techniques in your SQL queries will enhance your grasp of data rounding principles, ensuring your analyses are both accurate and impactful.

Rounding up and down

In the vast world of SQL, mastering the fine art of rounding numbers can significantly enhance your data manipulation skills. I’ve found that understanding how to precisely round up or down in SQL using the ROUND function alongside its cousins CEILING and FLOOR can be a game-changer, especially when dealing with financial or analytical data. Let’s deep dive into how these functions can be wielded to achieve our rounding goals.

Rounding Up with CEILING

When I need to ensure a number always rounds up to the nearest integer, I turn to the CEILING function. This function is straightforward – it rounds any decimal number up to the next whole number. It’s particularly useful when calculating the minimum number of items you need to cover a certain area or quantity. For instance:

SELECT CEILING(9.25) AS RoundedUp;

This query will return 10, as CEILING rounds 9.25 up to the nearest whole number.

Rounding Down with FLOOR

Conversely, when my goal is to round down to the nearest whole number, I use the FLOOR function. This function takes any decimal value and rounds it down. It’s perfect for situations where you need to stay within a budget or limit. Here’s an example:

SELECT FLOOR(9.99) AS RoundedDown;

This will output 9, because FLOOR takes 9.99 and rounds it down.

Common Mistakes

A common mistake I’ve seen (and done myself) involves forgetting that ROUND, by default, rounds to the nearest integer if the second parameter is omitted. For more control over the number of decimal places to round to, always specify the second parameter. Remember, ROUND can also round to the nearest hundred, thousand, or any other specified number places, by adjusting the second parameter accordingly.

-- Rounds to one decimal place
SELECT ROUND(9.876, 1) AS RoundedOneDecimal;

The example above rounds 9.876 to 9.9, illustrating how specifying the decimal places can fine-tune your rounding operations.

Practical examples of using the ROUND function

When I dive into the practicalities of the ROUND function in SQL, I’m often struck by its versatility. Let’s explore some concrete examples of how to apply this function effectively in various scenarios, shining a light on its utility in rounding decimal points and ensuring accurate financial reports, analytics, and data manipulation.

Firstly, consider a simple case where you want to round a number to the nearest whole number. The SQL syntax for this operation looks something like this:

SELECT ROUND(123.456, 0) AS RoundedValue;

This command will result in 123 as the output because it rounds to the nearest whole number. It’s straightforward but extremely useful in daily operations dealing with monetary values or statistics that require general approximation.

For more precision, say we need to round a value to two decimal places for financial reporting. The syntax modifies slightly:

SELECT ROUND(123.456789, 2) AS RoundedValue;

The output, in this case, would be 123.46. This level of precision is critical when handling currencies or precise measurements, ensuring that every figure is accurate up to the penny.

Let’s talk about common mistakes. One of the most frequent errors I’ve noticed is forgetting to specify the second parameter in the ROUND function, incorrectly assuming that it defaults to 0. This assumption can lead to unexpected results, especially when dealing with detailed financial data where precision is key. Always specify the number of decimal places you want to round to, ensuring clarity and avoiding ambiguity in your data.

Another variation in using the ROUND function involves scenarios where you might need to round off very large numbers to the nearest thousand or hundred thousand. For example:

SELECT ROUND(1234567, -3) AS RoundedValue;

This would return 1235000, rounding to the nearest thousand. It demonstrates the flexibility of the ROUND function in handling numbers of varying magnitudes, making it an indispensable tool in my SQL arsenal.

In my experience, experimenting with different numbers and scenarios using the ROUND function has not only improved the accuracy of my data manipulation tasks but also significantly boosted the readability and professionalism of my reports and analyses.


Mastering the ROUND function in SQL has opened up a world of precision and clarity in data management for me. I’ve shown you how to navigate its nuances, from rounding to the nearest whole number to finessing decimal places for detailed financial reports. Remember, the key lies in specifying your needs accurately to avoid those common pitfalls. Beyond just rounding, I’ve introduced you to the CEILING and FLOOR functions, broadening your toolkit for data analysis. My journey with these functions has not only improved the accuracy of my data but also polished the professionalism of my reports. I encourage you to dive in, experiment with the examples provided, and see the difference it makes in your data handling. With a bit of practice, you’ll find these functions indispensable in your SQL arsenal.

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