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How to Start Writing SQL Reports

So, you’ve started, or want to start, learning SQL. You understand that a database is a repository for raw data and that data in business forms the backbone of the decision-making process. But how do you gain meaningful insights from raw data? How can you take a vast amount of information from a database and use SQL to give it a real-world utilization? Learn how to write SQL reports!

A well-prepared report, based on a thoroughly conducted data analysis, can bring huge profits. It will allow you to shorten the time needed to make business decisions and ensure that specific actions will bring the expected results. Is this the scenario you dream of? Would you rather make educated decisions instead of acting blindly and waiting for the reaction of the market and customers?

Learning how to write SQL reports will allow you to extract meaning from data and conduct the analyses necessary to make professional decisions, regardless of your role or industry.

Keep reading to discover more about SQL reporting and why you don’t need to be a data scientist to benefit from learning how to use SQL reports.

What Is SQL Reporting?

Are you tired of being limited by the same old reports that come as standard with your CRM that the IT department set up for you? Are you fed up with cumbersome spreadsheet filters, desperately trying to get the data you want in a single, logical format? Perhaps you’ve wasted enough time trying to explain to your IT department which data you need and how you need to see it and then waiting days for them to create a custom report for you.

Well, what if I told you that all of this could be a thing of the past? What if you could create any type of report you imagined and that you wouldn’t have to wait days to get your hands on it?

I’m guessing that you’d think it’s too good to be true. Actually, it’s not. As soon as you learn to create SQL reports, data in business will cease to be such a headache.

With SQL, you can essentially create any report you’d like (albeit with varying levels of complexity.) A basic SQL query may start with the SELECT statement. This statement returns the data that you specify from one or more tables. When using SELECT, you enter the relevant column names, using FROM to specify the table in question. You can then use a simple WHERE to further specify the data you want to return.

Let’s take a look at a few of the different SQL functions you’ll have at your disposal after learning SQL reporting. I’ll use an example from the jewelry industry, an area I’m familiar with. The diamonds table shows a list of loose diamonds available in the stock holding for setting in a customer’s engagement ring:

idcarat_weightcutcolorclarity
11.00RoundDVS1
20.56RoundEIF
30.25RoundDSI1
41.87RoundDIF
51.05EmeraldHVVS1
60.75PearDSI2
70.80RoundFSI1
82.01EmeraldGVVS2
90.80OvalEVS2
100.30OldHVS1

AVG

AVG() is an aggregate function that enables you to calculate an average value from the selected set of data. Let’s calculate the average carat weight of the diamonds we have in our holding.

SELECT AVG(carat_weight)
FROM diamonds;
avg
0.939

As we can see, the average carat weight of all of the diamonds is 0.939.

Diamond

ORDER BY

The ORDER BY statement in SQL, like GROUP BY, is used with the SELECT statement. It is used to sort the selected data into either ascending or descending order. A single column or multiple columns can be selected and sorted in this way.

It is important to note that the statement will sort data in ascending order by default. To sort in descending order, the keyword DESC must be included.

Let’s look at the diamonds again. This time, a customer would like a diamond pendant. We want to see the available stones in ascending order of carat weight, so we use ORDER BY:

SELECT *
FROM diamonds
ORDER BY carat_weight DESC;
idcarat_weightcutcolorclarity
82.01EmeraldGVVS2
41.87RoundDIF
51.05EmeraldHVVS1
11.00RoundDVS1
70.80RoundFSI1
90.80OvalEVS2
60.75PearDSI2
20.56RoundEIF
100.30OldHVS1
30.25RoundDSI1

The diamonds are now displayed in descending order of carat weight.

GROUP BY

What is the GROUP BY statement in SQL? Well, it’s a clause that enables you to arrange identical data into groups or sets. GROUP BY is used alongside the SELECT statement and can be used in conjunction with multiple aggregate functions (discussed below).

We want to be able to tell the customer about the variety of diamond cut types that we have available in our stock holding. We can use GROUP BY with COUNT to tell us how many of each cut we have in our holding:

SELECT cut, COUNT(*)
FROM diamonds
GROUP BY cut;
idcarat_weightcutcolorclarity
82.01EmeraldGVVS2
41.87RoundDIF
51.05EmeraldHVVS1
11.00RoundDVS1
70.80RoundFSI1
90.80OvalEVS2
60.75PearDSI2
20.56RoundEIF
100.30OldHVS1
30.25RoundDSI1

As you can see, we have several round cut diamonds but only two emerald cut diamonds and one each of the pear, oval, and old cut diamonds.

It might seem trivial, but imagine that you have several hundred products with similar characteristics in your database. To be able to control your warehouse, you need to know how to organize it.

Here’s another example. Diamonds with the lowest number of carats are running out. How do you know how many of them with a carat weight below 1 you have left? Group the data to know how much you still need to order to make it to the next Valentine's Day.

These were very basic examples of using SQL. Now it's time for some more complicated scenarios.

Let's keep the jewelry going. Imagine being a jewelry store owner and wondering how to invest your profits. You can buy more goods and expand what you have to offer. To do this, you need a summary of which products your customers buy most often, which ones bring the highest profits, at what point in the year sales increase, and how to plan marketing and sales campaigns accordingly.

All this requires proper data analysis. You can spend money on an analysis from an analyst specialist. However, you can save a lot by doing it yourself. The first time will be difficult, but over time, you will become a specialist in this field and save a lot of cash. Sounds cool, right? I think so too.

ecommerce

Maybe you decide to start selling your products on the internet. There’s even more data there. You need to know how to analyze incoming traffic to your website, how to position it properly in the Google search engine (using Google Analytics), how to create sales offers, how to set prices based on market trends, etc.

What works in a physical store doesn’t always work on the internet. You have to decide whether it is more profitable for you to promote your store on Facebook or, for example, on industry websites. You need to know how to compare data from these sources.

There are many important decisions ahead of you that will determine the success of your business. They all must be based on deep data analysis and SQL reports. Why not create and read them yourself? Why do you have to trust someone else's opinions and analyses? Trust SQL and start learning how to create SQL reports today.

Why Should You Use SQL Reports?

In the past, there have been times when I have wanted to make decisions informed by data stored in a database but have been restricted to just a few standard reports prepared by my IT department. Before learning SQL, and how to write reports in SQL, my ability to analyze the data was limited. Also, there was the delay while I waited for external IT support to create a custom report.

You may well have had similar experiences. But there is a light at the end of the data tunnel.

startup

Whether you work in finance, logistics, marketing, or another sector altogether, there are few roles these days where the ability to analyze data is not important. You don’t have to be a data analyst or data scientist and you don’t need an SQL job to benefit from learning SQL and how to write SQL reports. Furthermore, when we talk about career progression and professional development, the ability to use SQL and the related reports is an invaluable skill to add to your resume, given the data-driven world we now live in. Want to know more about SQL reports in business? Check out our article "Introduction to Reporting with SQL—the Ultimate Tutorial for Business Professionals."

Where Can You Learn How to Write SQL Reports?

LearnSQL.com provides a comprehensive learning experience when it comes to learning SQL. With interactive courses designed to demystify the process of learning SQL, this inclusive platform will help you to learn the skills you need to tackle reporting in SQL with confidence. The SQL Reporting course will teach you the specific skills related to SQL reports, which you can apply to real-world situations. However, if you're completely new to SQL, it's worth starting from scratch. If you've never written a single line of code and SELECT * FROM seems like black magic, start with the SQL Basics course.

Summary

We’ve looked at what reporting in SQL is. We’ve touched on a few of the functions (it’s by no means an exhaustive list) and reflected on the improvements that learning SQL reports can make to your working life. We’ve talked about why you should learn it and how, and I’ve personally testified as to its effectiveness when it comes to managing a database. I think we can take two key points away from this:

Benefits of Learning SQL Reports

To recap, no more spreadsheets creaking under the strain of massive loads of data, relying on standard reports with limited capability to show you the data the way you need to see it, or waiting weeks for custom reports to be made.

Once you’ve learned how to use SQL reports, you’ll be able to access the data you need, when you need it. The power to make strategic decisions will be yours, not to mention the hassle that will be taken out of your workday.

Improved decision-making abilities make for better results, and that in turn increases your effectiveness and value within your organization. Internal recognition can bring opportunities for progress, including taking on new responsibilities and getting a pay increase. What’s more, learning SQL and how to use reports will equip you with skills that open up new job opportunities.

SQL Reports Are for Everyone

It’s as simple as that. Don’t let yourself feel intimidated by unfamiliar terminology or misconceptions about who can learn SQL—it’s a tool for everyone.

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