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How to Create a Basic MySQL Table

Creating tables in databases is an important first step for storing data. The CREATE TABLE statement is rich and sometimes confusing. This tech-recipe with an example describes the basics of creating a table in MySQL.

Creating a table involves describing the columns and their attributes, whether they contain text, numbers, dates, and so on. In this tech-recipe, we will create a table to hold contact information with four columns: contact_id, name, email, and birthdate.

The contact_id column is an integer number that is 10 decimal places long; therefore, it is created with an INT(10) datatype. This column will act as the primary key for this table.

The name column holds the full name of a contact. We suppose this will be no longer than 40 characters long, so the datatype is VARCHAR(40).

The contact’s birthdate will be stored as a DATE datatype.

The following SQL command will create a table called contacts as described above:

CREATE TABLE contacts (
contact_id INT(10),
name VARCHAR(40),
birthdate DATE

MySQL does not care if the command includes carriage returns (thoughtfully placed, of course, like not in the middle of a keyword). If you are entering this command from the MySQL command-line interface, it will need to be terminated with a semicolon. If it is being submitted through a programming interface, as from a PHP script, the semicolon is optional. Additional details about the syntax can referenced in the official MySQL documentation.

Quinn McHenry
Quinn McHenry
Quinn was one of the original co-founders of Tech-Recipes. He is currently crafting iOS applications as a senior developer at Small Planet Digital in Brooklyn, New York.


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