SQL Queries from Excel

Posted on September 22nd, 2008 in Learn Excel , technology - 35 comments

Often when you are working on 2 incompatible systems and try to import data from one to another, excel can be a handy tool. I have used excel plenty of times to generate SQL insert / update statements which I could later execute on the database console. Here is a tutorial if you ever have to use excel to generate SQL statements.

The example below shows a simple insert statement generated from customer data in a table. But you can easily extend this technique to come up with complex query statements.

1. Have your data ready

For our purpose the data is arranged like this:


As you can see, the data has to be in a tabular format so that you can easily generate the query statements. Often you may have to use lookup formulas to clean up the raw data imported in CSV formats.

2. Using excel operator ‘&’ to generate SQL query

Once the data is ready it is very easy to generate the SQL queries using excel string addition operator – &. For the above tabular structure, the concatenate formula would look like:

="insert into customers values('" &B3 &"','" & C3 & "','"&D3&"');" where B3, C3, D3 refer to above table data.

The final queries will look like:


There are a few practical ways to improve this:

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35 Responses to “SQL Queries from Excel”

  1. Leonid says:

    I use this method very often.
    I always use =SUBSTITUTE (ColumnWithText,"'","''")
    to be sure that potential apostrophe in text columns are doubled as required in SQL.

  2. Chandoo says:

    @Leonid.. that is a good technique to use substitute to clean up text apostrophes. thanks

  3. Paul G. says:

    Generate update statement in excel where the columns that can be updated are dynamic
    You want the columns which are not updated to keep the same value
    (or not be overwritten with NULL values with the new generated statement)
    the statement can be applied to multiple rows in excel for the same column headers
    (This is why the '$' exist for the column headers that are being set)

    A1 = First_Name
    B1 = Last_Name
    C1 = Middle_Name

    " SET 1 = 1 "&CHAR(10)&
    IF(LEN(TRIM($A2))=0,"",", "&$A$1&" = '"&$A2&"'"&CHAR(10))&
    IF(LEN(TRIM($B2))=0,"",", "&$B$1&" = '"&$B2&"'"&CHAR(10))&
    IF(LEN(TRIM($C2))=0,"",", "&$C$1&" = '"&$C2&"'"&CHAR(10))&
    " WHERE name = 'staticordynamicvalue' AND gender = 'staticordynamicvalue'
    Output (if all columns are set):
    First_Name = 'Joe',
    Last_Name = 'ORien',
    Middle_Name = 'Richard'
    WHERE age = 28 AND gender = 'm'

    Output (if only First _Name (A1) is set):
    First_Name = 'Joe'
    WHERE age = 28 AND gender = 'm'

  4. Paul G. says:

    Possibly my post above is confusing without the actual table to look at. I will do the same example with the table used here. Instead of an insert statement I will generate an update statement for the columns, Cust_Name, Phone & E-mail
    where we can generate an update statement for any column individually or together. 🙂 I hope this can help.
    UPDATE table “&CHAR(10)&
    ” SET 1 = 1 “&CHAR(10)&
    IF(LEN(TRIM($A2))=0,”",”,Cust_Name = ‘”&$B3&”‘”&CHAR(10))&
    IF(LEN(TRIM($B2))=0,”",”, Phone = ‘”&$C3&”‘”&CHAR(10))&
    IF(LEN(TRIM($C2))=0,”",”, E-mail = ‘”&$D3&”‘”&CHAR(10))&
    ” WHERE Cust_Name = ’Bill Gates'

  5. Visa Inde says:

    Thanks, it has been very useful !
    It saved me at least 30 minutes, and time is the most expensive thing in our world...

  6. Kad says:

    Hey Paul,
    What if any of A2, B2, or C2 is a date field?
    The formula above is taking date as string. Any solution?

    • Smitha says:

      Even I faced the same problem. If any of the above columns are date, it is taken  as string. Any work around for this?

  7. Sam Howley says:

    I've found the string concatenation method works well.

    At the risk of sounding spammy I would mention that
    if it's something your are doing regularly it might be worth investigating a tools
    that make it easier, such as QueryCell, an excel add-in I've developed.

    It gives you a right click menu option that will produce and then customize insert statements for the selected region of Excel data.


    • Pravin says:

      For inserting the excel data to your SQL table, you can create insert statements in excel file according to your columns.
      then just execute the statements all at once, it will insert the required data to sql server table.

  8. Chetan Patil says:

    I tried to generate t-sql insert queries from the above example
    ="insert into values('" &A2 &"','" & B2& "');"
    but it generates on one record instead of all records from excel sheet.
    I'm using Excel 2003 and the excel sheet contains 922 records.

  9. Mike says:

    Most data bases can generate DDL for any object but not a lot of them allow generation of INSERT statements for the table data.
    The workaround is to make use of ETL Tools for transferring data across servers. However, there exists a need to generate INSERT statements from the tables for porting data.
    Simplest example is when small or large amount of data needs to be taken out on a removable storage media and copied to a remote location, INSERT..VALUES statements come handy.

    There is a number of scripts available to perform this data transformation task. The problem with those scripts that all of them database specific and they do not work with textiles

    Advanced ETL processor can generate Insert scripts from any data source including text files

  10. B.N.Prabhu says:

    Super Aiticle. Thanks for this post.

  11. I used to deal with the same problem, until found this awsome and free tool.


  12. Archana says:

    Hi ,
    i need a sql query to update a DB in excel 2010..
    i have the query(SQL) for insert in excel as ,
    ="insert into customers values('" &B3 &"','" & C3 & "','"&D3&"');"

    similarly i need q sql query for update in excel

  13. shana says:

    i want clear formulas only for insert,delete,update,select

  14. Ankit Mahendru says:

    Hi !
    I would like to thank you so much ! This trick saves me a  lot of time. Thank you so much. Really appreciate it !

  15. Richard says:

    You may like to take advantage of this unique tool 'Excel to Database'. 
    (free for 60 days)http://leansoftware.net The Excel-to-Database utility enables you to validate and transfer data from Microsoft Excel or text file to a database table or stored procedure process. Any text data can be pasted into the application, this may be from another Excel sheet or from text files such as CSV format. SQL Server, Access, MySQL, FoxPro .. Application features Some unique features of Excel to Database include: ?Easy to use color coded/traffic light data validation ?Data is validated as soon it is typed or pasted into Excel ?Upload Excel data to a table or stored procedure process ?Allow default values ?Mandatory/must have fields can be specified ?Allow user friendly column names ?Allow excel formula / calculated fields ?Multiple database type support: Microsoft SQL Server, Access, MySQL and others (to be tested) ?Supports Custom SQL scripts, with SQL/Excel merge fields ?Database validation checks ensure you comply with any rules defined within the database ?Multiple Task configuration ?For co-operative use, Tasks can be shared across a network ?Task configuration is password protected http://leansoftware.net 

  16. Manoraj says:

    Its works fine for single record.
    I want to update 1000 records in DB. Can you help me.

  17. Richard says:

    Excel database tasks 2.3 (EDT)
    you can now load directly from any source into Excel, validate and upload to most SQL database platforms including SQL Server with automatic transaction wrapping.
    You can also use EDT as a multi-user application by easily designing your own Edit data tasks and deploying EDT on your users workstations.
    Automatically creates UPDATE/INSERT statements based on the primary key.  Default SQL can be modified as you require.
    Makes the best use if Excel power - formatting, formula, validation, conditional formatting..  without creating any problematic spreadsheets!
    Release details on the blog:
    Thanks for the interest

  18. Usman says:

    Thanks for the valueable information, it really help me alot.
    Thanks again.

  19. Laercio says:

    As I do with a field of type date?
    = "UPDATE SET business datetime =" & "'" & A2 & "' WHERE ID =" & B2 & ""
    the date is not 03/10/2012 is 41246. Even putting quotes ...

  20. Elaein says:

    Please show how to do it properly with dates as well as when those dates are empty. Thanks!

  21. mahesh.S says:

    In a separate column make the date to Text using below formula
    =TEXT(C2,"mm/dd/yyyy") Then Refer this text column in your update statement

  22. cjb says:

    Great post saved me a a load of time on a task i had to complete

  23. sql010 says:

    thanks for sharing article... helpful!

  24. Pooja says:

    Thanks 🙂

  25. Hello,

    Nice article.

    I have also created one tool for create table script using excel http://devssolution.com/create-table-in-sql-using-excel/

    Please check it.

    Thanks & Regards,
    Sandeep Bhadauriya

  26. […] Excel formula used – http://chandoo.org/wp/2008/09/22/sql-insert-update-statements-from-csv-files/ […]

  27. HSoomro says:

    If any one can help me out with following.
    I want to know a SQL query of below excel formula:

    Excel data is as below;
    Name Codes
    names1 992
    names2 57
    names3 856
    names4 297
    names5 63

    if there is a number (29756789) then it should search in sql by taking the prefix of number (297) from (29756789) and return the name field (name4).
    Codes can be of two digit or three.


  28. David says:

    Here is a link to an Online automator to convert CSV files to SQL Insert Into statements:

    CSV-to-SQL: http://csv-to-sql.herokuapp.com

  29. Victor R Udeshi says:

    ="INSERT INTO table VALUES (" &A3 &",'" & B3 & "','"&C3&"','" & D3 & "','" & E3 & "'," & F3 & "," & G3 & "," & H3 & ",'" & I3 & "'," & J3 & ");"

    B3 has date data that looks like 9/22/17 but with the formula above b3 is coming out as 43000?

    how do i fix that?

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