SQL Like Multiple Values: How to Query for Multiple Criteria

Using SQL to search for multiple values in a database can be a game-changer for anyone dealing with large amounts of data. Whether you’re a database administrator, a developer, or just someone who needs to pull specific information quickly, knowing how to use the LIKE operator with multiple values is a must. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process step-by-step, so you can become more efficient in your data retrieval tasks.

Step by Step Tutorial: Using SQL LIKE with Multiple Values

Before we dive into the steps, let’s understand what we’ll accomplish. We will learn how to use the SQL LIKE operator to filter data based on multiple values. This is particularly useful when you want to find records that contain certain patterns or partial matches in a database.

Step 1: Choose Your Database and Table

The first thing you need to do is select the database and table you want to query.

Choosing the right database and table is crucial because it sets the stage for the entire query process. Make sure you have the necessary permissions to access the data.

Step 2: Use the LIKE Operator

Next, incorporate the LIKE operator into your SQL query to specify the pattern you’re looking for.

The LIKE operator is versatile, allowing you to use wildcard characters such as ‘%’ to represent any number of characters and ‘_’ to represent a single character. This flexibility helps in creating more effective search criteria.

Step 3: Combine LIKE with OR or IN

To search for multiple values, you can combine the LIKE operator with OR or IN clauses.

Using OR can make your query lengthy but offers clear readability, while IN provides a more concise query. Both methods will achieve the same result, so choose based on your preference.

After completing these steps, your SQL query will filter the data and return only the records that match the specified patterns. This can significantly speed up your data search and make your work more efficient.

Tips for Using SQL LIKE with Multiple Values

  • Always test your SQL queries on a small dataset before running them on the entire database to avoid errors and long processing times.
  • Use wildcards wisely. Too many can slow down your query, and too few may not return all the necessary results.
  • When possible, use the IN clause to keep your query concise and easier to read.
  • Remember that SQL is case-sensitive in some databases, so consider this when searching for text values.
  • Indexes can speed up queries, so ensure that the columns you’re searching with the LIKE operator are indexed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the SQL LIKE operator?

The LIKE operator in SQL is used to search for a specified pattern in a column.

Can I use the LIKE operator with numeric values?

Yes, you can use the LIKE operator with numeric values, but it’s typically used for text patterns.

How do wildcards work with the LIKE operator?

Wildcards are special characters that allow you to create more flexible search patterns. ‘%’ represents any string of characters, while ‘_’ represents a single character.

Is the LIKE operator case-sensitive?

This depends on the database system you’re using. Some, like MySQL, are case-insensitive by default, while others, like PostgreSQL, are case-sensitive.

Can I use the LIKE operator in a JOIN clause?

Yes, you can use the LIKE operator in a JOIN clause to combine rows from two or more tables based on a related column that matches a specified pattern.


  1. Choose your database and table.
  2. Use the LIKE operator in your SQL query.
  3. Combine LIKE with OR or IN to search for multiple values.


Mastering the use of the SQL LIKE operator with multiple values can significantly enhance your ability to work with databases. It’s a powerful tool that, when used effectively, can save you time and effort in filtering and retrieving data. Remember to use wildcards judiciously, and always test your queries to ensure accuracy and efficiency. With the tips and steps outlined in this article, you’re well on your way to becoming more proficient in handling complex SQL queries. So, go ahead, give it a try, and see how you can streamline your data search tasks with sql like multiple values.