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9.2. Database, Table, Index, Column, and Alias Names

Database, table, index, column, and alias names are identifiers. This section describes the allowable syntax for identifiers in MySQL.

The following table describes the maximum length and allowable characters for each type of identifier.

Identifier Maximum Length (bytes) Allowed Characters
Database 64 Any character that is allowed in a directory name, except ‘/’, ‘\’, or ‘.
Table 64 Any character that is allowed in a filename, except ‘/’, ‘\’, or ‘.
Column 64 All characters
Index 64 All characters
Alias 255 All characters

In addition to the restrictions noted in the table, no identifier can contain ASCII 0 or a byte with a value of 255. Database, table, and column names should not end with space characters. The use of identifier quote characters in identifiers is permitted, although it is best to avoid doing so if possible.

Identifiers are stored using Unicode (UTF-8). This applies to identifiers in table definitions that stored in .frm files and to identifiers stored in the grant tables in the mysql database. The sizes of the string columns in the grant tables (and in any other tables) in MySQL 5.1 are given as number of characters. This means that (unlike some earlier versions of MySQL) you can use multi-byte characters without reducing the number of characters allowed for values stored in these columns.

An identifier may be quoted or unquoted. If an identifier is a reserved word or contains special characters, you must quote it whenever you refer to it. (Exception: A word that follows a period in a qualified name must be an identifier, so it is not necessary to quote it, even if it is a reserved word.) For a list of reserved words, see Section 9.5, “Treatment of Reserved Words in MySQL”. Special characters are those outside the set of alphanumeric characters from the current character set, ‘_’, and ‘$’.

The identifier quote character is the backtick (‘`’):

mysql> SELECT * FROM `select` WHERE `select`.id > 100;

If the ANSI_QUOTES SQL mode is enabled, it is also allowable to quote identifiers within double quotes:

mysql> CREATE TABLE "test" (col INT);
ERROR 1064: You have an error in your SQL syntax. (...)
mysql> SET sql_mode='ANSI_QUOTES';
mysql> CREATE TABLE "test" (col INT);
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

Note: Because ANSI_QUOTES causes the server to interpret double-quoted strings as identifiers, string literals must be enclosed within single quotes. They cannot be enclosed within double quotes when ANSI_QUOTES is enabled.

The server SQL mode is controlled as described in Section 5.2.5, “The Server SQL Mode”.

Identifier quote characters can be included within an identifier if you quote the identifier. If the character to be included within the identifier is the same as that used to quote the identifier itself, then you need to double the character. The following statement creates a table named a`b that contains a column named c"d:

mysql> CREATE TABLE `a``b` (`c"d` INT);

It is recommended that you do not use names of the form Me or MeN, such as 1e or 2e2, because an expression such as 1e+3 is ambiguous. Depending on context, it might be interpreted as the expression 1e + 3 or as the number 1e+3.

Be careful when using MD5() to produce table names because it can produce names in illegal or ambiguous formats such as those just described.

  Published under the terms of the GNU General Public License Design by Interspire