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SQL JOINs: Your Complete Guide to the Best Resources (with Cheat Sheet!)

This detailed guide covers all important SQL JOIN topics, from basic concepts to advanced techniques. Bookmark this guide for future reference – it’s packed with useful resources and guides to help you work with JOINs effectively.

SQL JOINs are essential in SQL and data analysis, as they let you combine data from different tables into a unified view. In this article, I've gathered everything you need to know about SQL JOINs. My goal is to give you a clear and easy guide that helps you understand how JOINs work.

Along with the guide, I've picked the best resources and tools to help you learn more. You'll find articles, tutorials, and courses that are great for beginners and experienced SQL users. These resources will help you practice using JOINs in your projects.

Introduction to SQL JOINs

JOINs are a fundamental concept in SQL. They let you combine data from two or more tables in a database, offering a more comprehensive view of data for use in analysis and reporting. JOINs are indispensable for anyone working with SQL, whether you're a data analyst, a database administrator, a software developer, or just beginning to explore SQL.

The primary purpose of a SQL JOIN is to combine data from multiple tables so that you can work with them as a single table. This is particularly useful in relational databases, where data is often distributed across various tables.

For instance, consider a scenario where one table contains customer information and another holds order details. Using JOIN, these tables can be combined to see which customers placed which orders, simplifying the process of complex data queries.

SQL JOIN Syntax and Examples

Let’s say that you have two tables: books with the columns book_idtitle, and author_id, and authors with the columns author_id and name:


books

book_idtitleauthor_id
1The Great Gatsby101
2To Kill a Mockingbird102
3Moby-Dick103
4The Catcher in the Rye104
5Greek Mythologynull

authors

author_idname
101F. Scott Fitzgerald
102Harper Lee
103Herman Melville
104J.D. Salinger
105Walt Whitman

If you want to see a list of books along with their authors, you need to use a JOIN to bring these two tables together. You would use an SQL query like this:

SELECT 
  title, 
  name 
FROM books 
JOIN authors 
ON books.author_id = authors.author_id; 

This query combines data from the books and authors tables. Observe the syntax of JOIN: After FROM, you put the name of the first table, as you would in any other query. After the name of the first table, you put the keyword JOIN, followed by the name of the second table. After that, you put the ON keyword with the condition telling the database how to connect tables.

RESULT:

titlename
The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald
To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee
Moby-DickHerman Melville
The Catcher in the RyeJ.D. Salinger

This query combines data from the two tables where the books.author_id value is equal to the authors.author_id value. For example, the author_id for the book “The Great Gatsby” is 101. The author with ID 101 is F. Scott Fitzgerald. That’s why F. Scott Fitzgerald is listed as the author of “The Great Gatsby”. You can look at other rows in the table and similarly justify why they are in the result.

It’s important to emphasize that the ON condition in JOIN can be anything you want. It typically is an equality (match) between column values from two different tables, but it can be any condition you want. The database takes rows from both tables and checks if the condition is true for those rows. The rows with true values are added to the result.

The animation below provides a visual explanation of how SQL JOINs work:

SQL JOINs: A Complete Guide

Types of SQL JOINs

There are different types of JOINs in SQL; each serves a different purpose depending on what you need from your data. In this section, I will discuss various types of JOINs, exploring how and when to use them to the best effect. I will show you INNER JOIN, LEFT JOIN, RIGHT JOIN, FULL JOIN, and others – each providing unique ways to combine and analyze data across multiple tables in your database.

INNER JOIN

INNER JOIN is the most basic type of JOIN. It is used to combine rows from two or more tables based on a specified condition, ensuring that only the rows that meet the specified criteria are included in the result set. It's particularly useful when you want to match and merge rows that have common values in these columns.

Let's consider the books and authors tables from the previous section. Note that in our data there is a book called “Greek Mythology” that doesn’t have an author. We also have the author Walt Whitman, who hasn’t written any books in our database.

To match each book with its author, you'd use an INNER JOIN on these tables. The SQL query would look like this:

SELECT 
  title, 
  name 
FROM books 
INNER JOIN authors 
ON books.author_id = authors.author_id; 

RESULT:

titlename
The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald
To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee
Moby-DickHerman Melville
The Catcher in the RyeJ.D. Salinger

This query combines data where the books.author_id value is equal to the authors.author_id value. For example, the author_id for the book “The Great Gatsby” is 101. The author with ID 101 is F. Scott Fitzgerald. That’s why F. Scott Fitzgerald is listed as the author of “The Great Gatsby”.

INNER JOIN is powerful because it allows you to combine relevant data from different tables. However, it only returns rows where there's a match in both tables. If there's no matching row, the data won't appear in the output. The book “Greek Mythology” is not in the result because it has no author. Author Walt Whitman is not there because there is no book associated with him in the second table.

It’s important to note that the keyword INNER is optional. If you just write JOIN, the database understands it as INNER JOIN.  The query from the previous section will return exactly the same result. JOIN with no additional keywords always means INNER JOIN in SQL.

SELECT 
  title, 
  name 
FROM books 
JOIN authors 
ON books.author_id = authors.author_id;

Understanding INNER JOINs is crucial because they are the most basic type of JOIN. As we explore other types of JOINs, you'll see how each serves a unique purpose. However, INNER JOINs are often the go-to choice for straightforward matching scenarios.

OUTER JOINs

An OUTER JOIN in SQL is used when you want to combine rows from two or more tables and include those rows in one table that don't have matching rows in the other table. This is the opposite of INNER JOIN, which includes only matching rows from both tables.

Let’s use the same books and authors tables from our INNER JOIN example. Perhaps you want to include all books in the result, even those that don’t have an author. Perhaps you want to include all authors, even those who haven’t written any books. Perhaps you want to include all the authors and all the books, regardless if they have a match in the other table. In all those scenarios you’ll need an OUTER JOIN. An OUTER JOIN is used for finding data that doesn't have an exact match across tables.

There are three variants of OUTER JOINLEFT OUTER JOIN, RIGHT OUTER JOIN, and FULL OUTER JOIN. The word OUTER is optional when referring to JOINs. Therefore, in describing the types, it's common to simply use LEFT JOIN, RIGHT JOIN, and FULL JOIN.

You can find more about OUTER JOIN in these resources:

LEFT JOIN

When using a LEFT JOIN, the query returns all the records from the left (first) table. This is the table listed immediately after FROM. It also shows the corresponding rows from the right (second) table. Let’s look at the example:

SELECT 
  title, 
  name 
FROM books 
LEFT JOIN authors 
ON books.author_id = authors.author_id;

RESULT:

titlename
The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald
To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee
Moby-DickHerman Melville
The Catcher in the RyeJ.D. Salinger
Greek Mythologynull

The query retrieves all rows from the left table (books) and the matching rows from the right table (authors). The query retrieves every book and pairs it with its author. It includes all books, even those that don’t have a matching author. “Greek Mythology” has no corresponding author in the authors table, but it’s still included in the result. However, the name of the author is listed as null for this row, since there is no matching ID in the authors table.

Want to go deeper in LEFT JOIN? Check out these articles:

RIGHT JOIN

A RIGHT JOIN is the mirror image of the LEFT JOIN: it returns all the records from the right table with the corresponding rows from the left table. (The right or second table is immediately after the JOIN keyword.) Let’s look at the example:

SELECT 
  title, 
  name 
FROM books 
RIGHT JOIN authors 
ON books.author_id = authors.author_id;

RESULT:

titlename
The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald
To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee
Moby-DickHerman Melville
The Catcher in the RyeJ.D. Salinger
nullWalt Whitman

This query lists all authors, pairing them with their books where possible. For authors without a corresponding book in the books table, the book details will be null. You can see that there are no Walt Whitman books in our table, so a null value is displayed in the column title.

To find our more about RIGHT JOIN visit this article:

FULL JOIN

A FULL JOIN combines the functionality of LEFT JOIN and RIGHT JOIN. It will produce a result that includes all records from both tables. Here’s an example:

SELECT 
  title, 
  name 
FROM books 
FULL JOIN authors 
ON books.author_id = authors.author_id; 

RESULT:

titlename
The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald
To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee
Moby-DickHerman Melville
The Catcher in the RyeJ.D. Salinger
Greek Mythologynull
nullWalt Whitman

All books and all authors are listed, matching where they can and showing nulls where there isn't a match in the other table. As you can see in the result, “Greek Mythology” appears without a matching author, and Walt Whitman appears without any book.

CROSS JOIN

A CROSS JOIN in SQL combines all rows from two tables, creating every possible pair between the rows of the tables. In the case of our example tables, a CROSS JOIN would pair every book with every author – regardless if they're actually related:

SELECT name, title 
FROM books 
CROSS JOIN authors;

The syntax of CROSS JOIN is similar to other JOIN types: you put the name of the first table before the CROSS JOIN keyword and the name of the other table after CROSS JOIN. CROSS JOIN does not require an ON condition.

RESULT:

titlename
The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald
To Kill a MockingbirdF. Scott Fitzgerald
Moby-DickF. Scott Fitzgerald
The Catcher in the RyeF. Scott Fitzgerald
Greek MythologyF. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great GatsbyHarper Lee
To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee
Moby-DickHarper Lee
The Catcher in the RyeHarper Lee
Greek MythologyHarper Lee
The Great GatsbyHerman Melville
To Kill a MockingbirdHerman Melville

The table continues in the same manner for all authors from table authors, creating a comprehensive list of all possible combinations of authors and books. It's easy to calculate that since we have 5 books in the books table and 5 authors in the authors table, we will get a result of 5*5, or 25 rows.

Would you like to know more about CROSS JOIN? Read our Illustrated Guide to the SQL CROSS JOIN.

NATURAL JOIN

A NATURAL JOIN in SQL is a JOIN type that automatically combines rows from two or more tables based on columns with the same name.

Let’s take our books and authors tables. To perform a NATURAL JOIN between these tables to find books and their respective authors, you would use the following SQL query:

SELECT 
  title, 
  name 
FROM books 
NATURAL JOIN authors;

NATURAL JOIN identifies matching columns by their names, so it doesn’t require specifying the ON condition. In our example, NATURAL JOIN will automatically match rows based on the common column author_id. The result will be a unified table like this:

RESULT:

titlename
The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald
To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee
Moby-DickHerman Melville
The Catcher in the RyeJ.D. Salinger

In practice, NATURAL JOIN is rarely used. Databases have different naming conventions. Some column names, like id or name, can be shared by many tables – even though they do not store the same information. It’s more convenient to specify the ON condition explicitly and have full control over how the JOIN is performed. Still, it’s worth knowing about NATURAL JOIN for historical reasons (or in the rare event you’re asked about it in an interview).

More SQL JOIN Resources

For further insights and practical usage scenarios of all SQL JOIN types, refer to these resources:

How to Practice SQL JOINs

Understanding SQL JOIN types is essential, but the real skill lies in practical application. In this section, we’ve gathered some recommended resources for practicing JOINs.

SQL Basics

The SQL Basics course at LearnSQL.com provides an excellent introduction to JOINs. The course covers the basics of SQL, dedicating a significant portion of its time to JOINs. It is an ideal choice for those who are getting started with SQL and are looking to build a solid foundation.

SQL JOINs: A Complete Guide

This course – like all of our courses – is interactive. Each new concept is reinforced by an exercise where you write an actual SQL query. Our platform automatically verifies your solution and gives you feedback on your work. Everything happens right in your web browser; you don’t need to install anything on your computer. You can focus solely on learning and practicing SQL queries, making our courses an ideal choice for beginners looking for a hassle-free learning experience.

In the SQL Basics course, you'll learn and practice all the different JOIN types. The course contains 129 exercises, which is equivalent to over 10 hours of coding. Over one-third of the course is devoted solely to SQL JOINs. In many other parts of the course, you’ll combine JOIN knowledge with other SQL features.

The SQL Basics course uses standard SQL. If you need to learn a specific SQL dialect, we offer the same course in three popular SQL dialects:

SQL JOINs

Our SQL JOINs course is designed for learners who want to focus on practicing SQL JOINs. In the course, you will find 93 interactive exercises. You will review most of the topics beginners find challenging, including:

  • Joining and selecting data from three or more tables.
  • The use cases of LEFT JOIN, RIGHT JOIN, and FULL JOIN.
  • How to correctly filter data with different kinds of JOINs.
  • How to join a given table with itself (self-joins).
  • How to join tables on non-key columns.
SQL JOINs: A Complete Guide

This course is perfect for new learners as well as experienced professionals who want to refresh their SQL JOIN knowledge before a test or an interview. You can also take this course in MySQL, MS SQL Server, or PostgreSQL.

If you’re not ready to enroll in a course, check out our article SQL Joins: 12 Practice Questions with Detailed Answers. It contains 12 carefully selected SQL JOIN exercises to help you practice the most important aspects of JOINs. Each question is accompanied by an answer and a detailed explanation. This approach helps you build a strong foundational understanding of JOINs. The exercises in the article are taken from our SQL JOINs course, so you can get a taste of what the course is like.

More JOIN Practice

If you're looking to delve even deeper into SQL JOINs, our practice courses are the perfect choice. Our offering includes:

SQL JOINs: A Complete Guide

Each of these courses utilizes a realistic database, enabling you to practice on true-to-life examples rather than abstract ones. All our SQL practice courses are structured into chapters dedicated to different topics, such as single table queries, joins, aggregation, and grouping. This allows you to focus on the areas you wish to understand better.

Our SQL practice courses are also a great resource for those preparing for job interviews. If you are waiting for your interview or need to recap your knowledge, check out The Top 10 SQL JOIN Interview Questions and How to Answer Them.

Advanced JOIN Techniques

As you work more with SQL JOINs, you'll find yourself faced with more complex scenarios that demand a deeper understanding of how to manipulate and connect your database tables.

In this section, I'll show you some common real-world challenges that call for advanced JOIN techniques. For each of these challenges, I’ll show you what the problem is and give you links to our practical guides that discuss the problem in detail.

How to JOIN Two Tables in SQL

We’ve covered the basics of joining two tables. If you’re looking for an in-depth guide on how to join two tables in SQL, with multiple examples and actionable tips, read our articles:

How to JOIN 3 or More Tables

In real life, you usually join more than two tables in one query. Some complex SQL reports can require joining a dozen different tables.

Let’s take our books table, now a little bit updated, and the authors table. Let’s add another one, publishers.

books

book_idtitleauthor_idpublisher_id
1The Great Gatsby101201
2To Kill a Mockingbird102202
3Moby-Dick103202
4The Catcher in the Rye104203
5Greek Mythologynull204

publishers

publisher_idpublisher_name
201Penguin Classics
202Harper & Brothers
203Little, Brown
204Ballantine Books

Each row in this table represents a publisher. The publisher_id is a unique identifier for each publisher.

To join these three tables, we can use this query:

SELECT 
  b.title, 
  a.name AS author_name, 
  p.publisher_name AS publisher_name
FROM books b
INNER JOIN authors a 
ON b.author_id = a.author_id
INNER JOIN publishers p 
ON b.publisher_id = p.publisher_id;

Joining three tables essentially involves first performing a join between two tables and then adding a third table. The JOIN operation between the first two tables creates a kind of  'virtual' table; the subsequent JOIN connects this virtual table with the third table. Additional JOINS can be added as needed.

As you can see, I used aliases in the SQL query for clarity. SQL aliases are custom names that you can give to the columns and tables you include in your queries. Aliases make the query more readable, particularly in complex joins involving multiple tables. They help distinguish between columns of the same name from different tables, ensuring accuracy in data retrieval. This approach streamlines the query, making it easier to understand and maintain, especially in larger databases with extensive table names and structures.

Our query will combine the data from all three tables based on their relationships: books and authors are joined on author_id, and books and publishers are joined on publisher_id. The result will display each book's title, its author's name, and the publisher's name.

RESULT:

titleauthor_namepublisher_name
The Great GatsbyF. Scott FitzgeraldPenguin Classics
To Kill a MockingbirdHarper LeeHarper & Brothers
Moby-DickHerman MelvilleHarper & Brothers
The Catcher in the RyeJ.D. SalingerLittle, Brown

For detailed examples and insights on how to join multiple tables in SQL, I recommend referring to:

These awesome articles provide a broader range of scenarios and examples, enhancing your understanding of SQL joins in different database contexts.

LEFT JOIN

OUTER JOINs – in particular, the most commonly used LEFT JOIN –  are more challenging for SQL users than INNER JOIN. In this section, we’ll discuss typical problems that occur when you work with LEFT JOIN. We’ll include links to relevant articles if you want to learn more.

How to LEFT JOIN Multiple Tables

Using LEFT JOIN when joining multiple tables can be surprisingly tricky. Let’s see an example.

Suppose you want to list all authors in our database with the books they authored and the name of the publisher. You want to include all authors, even those who haven’t authored any books. Here’s the query:

SELECT 
  a.name AS author_name, 
  b.title, 
  p.publisher_name AS publisher_name
FROM authors a
LEFT JOIN books b
ON b.author_id = a.author_id
LEFT JOIN publishers p 
ON b.publisher_id = p.publisher_id;

You have to use LEFT JOIN twice in the query. First, you join authors and books; you need to use LEFT JOIN to include all authors. The second LEFT JOIN is probably less expected: you need to LEFT JOIN the table publishers to keep authors with no books in the result. If you used INNER JOIN, the database would only keep the records with books and publishers; records with no books would be removed.

RESULT:

author_nametitlepublisher_name
F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Great GatsbyPenguin Classics
Harper LeeTo Kill a MockingbirdHarper & Brothers
Herman MelvilleMoby-DickHarper & Brothers
J.D. SalingerThe Catcher in the RyeLittle, Brown
Walt Whitmannullnull

Note that Walt Whitman is in our result. He has no books in our database, so obviously he had no publisher records. Thanks to the second LEFT JOIN, his record is kept in the result even though there’s no associated publisher record.

For a detailed discussion on how to use LEFT JOIN with multiple tables, refer to our guide:

Using WHERE and ON Conditions in LEFT JOINs

Using WHERE and ON conditions in OUTER JOINs can be trickier than you think. The ON clause is primarily used in JOIN operations to define how tables are connected based on related columns. In contrast, the WHERE clause filters the results after the JOIN is executed.

Suppose you want to list all authors with all their books – but only with the books that have a capital M in the title. If the author hasn't authored the book with M in the title, you still want to list them in the result. This is the query you should write:

SELECT 
  a.name,
  b.title 
FROM authors a 
LEFT JOIN books b
ON b.author_id = a.author_id AND title LIKE ‘%M%’;

RESULT:

nametitle
Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird
F. Scott Fitzgeraldnull
Herman MelvilleMoby-Dick
J.D. Salingernull
Walt Whitmannull

Note that the following query is not right:

SELECT 
  b.title, 
  a.name
FROM books b
LEFT JOIN authors a 
ON b.author_id = a.author_id 
WHERE title LIKE ‘%M%’;

In this query, the condition on the title “cancels” the LEFT JOIN. If there is no book record joined to the author, then the condition title LIKE ‘%M%’ is not true and authors without any books are not included in the result:

nametitle
Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird
Herman MelvilleMoby-Dick

For a detailed discussion on how to use LEFT JOIN with multiple tables, refer to our guide:

For more information go to:

What Is the Difference Between WHERE and ON in SQL JOINs?

How to Include Unmatched Rows in JOINs

You might need unmatched rows in your data analysis to get a full picture of your dataset. In a sales database, for example, including rows with products that haven't been sold yet can provide insights into inventory or customer preferences. This comprehensive view is crucial for making informed decisions and understanding all aspects of your data.

To include all rows from one table in a JOIN, you can use OUTER JOINs: LEFT JOIN, RIGHT JOIN, or FULL JOIN. The choice depends on which table's unmatched rows you want to include.

For a detailed guide on how to keep unmatched rows when you join tables, check out this article: How to Keep Unmatched Rows When You Join Two Tables in SQL

Uncommon JOIN Methods

So far, we have discussed the most typical JOIN methods. However, you can join tables on any condition you want. In this section, we’ll focus on less common JOIN methods. Still, the scenarios presented here do happen. If you want to be an SQL expert, you should be aware that you may encounter them in your data analysis work.

Joining Tables by Multiple Columns

Usually, tables are connected with the help of a single column: one table refers to the ID column in the other table. However, sometimes the ID of a column consists of two or more columns. Any table that references that composite key must use multiple columns. If that’s the case, then the JOINs between these tables need to use multiple columns. Let’s see an example.

In an online game store, users can buy access to different games. Information about games is stored in the games table, which includes the columns  game_id and name. Information about users is stored in the table users. The table game_access stores information on which users ordered which games. Its primary key (the main identifier) is a pair of columns: user_id and game_id; each user can buy each game only once. The status of the payment is stored in the table payments. It includes the columns game_id and user_id, which refer to the table game_access.

To list the user ID, game ID, and payment status for game access, you’d write a query like this.

SELECT
  game_access.game_id,
  game_access.user_id,
  payments.status as payment_status
FROM game_access 
JOIN payments
ON game_access.user_id = payments.user_id AND game_access.game_id = payments.game_id;

The table payments refers to the table game_access by two columns: game_id and user_id. You have to provide both these columns to identify which game access record you’re referring to. That’s why the ON condition must use an AND operator to combine two equalities: game_access.user_id = payments.user_id and game_access.game_id = payments.game_id.

Another example of joining tables on multiple columns can be found in t How to Join on Multiple Columns.

Joining Tables Without Common Columns

Sometimes you want to combine data from multiple tables that don’t share a common column. There are several ways to do it in SQL.

One method involves using a CROSS JOIN, which pairs each row of one table with every row of another and results in all possible combinations. This is ideal for scenarios like matching every type of wine with every main course in a restaurant menu.

Another technique is to use UNION, which is useful for combining similar data from different tables – e.g. merging lists of suppliers from various sources.  UNION is a set operator. In SQL, set operators combine the results of two or more queries into a single result. 

For more detailed examples and explanations, please refer to Join Two Tables Without a Common Column article.

Joining a Table with Itself: Self-Joins

A self-join in SQL is a colloquial name for joining a table with itself. You may join the table with itself when you join multiple tables and the same table is joined in two different roles. You may join the table with itself when the table contains hierarchical data.

For instance, consider the employee table with columns like employee_id, employee_name, and manager_id (where manager_id refers to the employee_id of the manager of this employee). You’d like to list the names of employees with the names of their managers. Here's a sample query:

SELECT 
  e.employee_name AS employee, 
  m.employee_name AS manager
FROM employees e
JOIN employees m ON e.manager_id = m.employee_id;

In this query, the employees table is joined with itself. This is what we call a self-join. The same table is put before and after the JOIN keyword. To distinguish between the two instances of the employee table, it is aliased twice: e for employees and m for managers. When we refer to the columns of the table, we use the alias to tell the database which instance of the table we’re referring to.

Non-Equi JOINs

Typically the JOIN condition is equality. We call these types of joins equi-join. However, the ON condition in JOIN can be any condition you want. In some scenarios, the condition you’d write is not an equality. We call these types of JOINs non-equi JOINs.

Imagine you have a table person that stores information about people and their budgets. In the table product, you have products with the prices. You want to list people with products that they can afford. Here’s a query you would write:

SELECT
  person.name AS person_name,
  product.name AS product_name
FROM person
JOIN product 
ON product.price <= person.budget;

The product is within a person’s budget, if its price is below the budget of the person. That’s what we put in the ON condition of the query: product.price <= person.budget. The query will list people with the names of the products that they can afford.

Other conditions you could use in a non-equi JOIN include inequality operators like <, >, <>, or BETWEEN. This is useful for matching rows based on a range or excluding duplicates in self-join.

To deepen your understanding of non-equi JOINs and enhance your data analysis skills, check out these insightful articles:

Other JOIN Scenarios

SQL JOINs offer a rich tapestry of possibilities, extending far beyond basic table merges. They can tackle a wide array of data challenges, opening doors to more advanced and nuanced data analysis. Whether it's refining how data is combined or exploring alternative ways to link tables, the versatility of JOIN in SQL is vast.

For those keen to explore these diverse scenarios, consider delving into the following resources, each presenting a unique scenario:

Joining To Only The First Row

Sometimes you may want to join tables where only the first row of the second table is considered. This is commonly used when you want to fetch the latest record or a specific piece of information from one table for each row in another table.

There are a few ways to do this, all described in How to Join Only the First Row in SQL article.

Joining Tables Without a JOIN Clause

In some specific SQL scenarios, you can combine data from multiple tables without using the traditional JOIN keyword. You can achieve this by using subqueries, UNION, or other set operations. For example, you can combine data from two tables using UNION:

SELECT book_title AS combined_title 
FROM author_books
UNION
SELECT book_name AS combined_title 
FROM publisher_books;

For more information, go to How to Join Tables in SQL Without Using JOINs.

Eliminating Duplicates in SQL JOINs

Duplicate rows can occur in JOIN results when there are multiple matching rows in the joined tables. To avoid duplicates, you can use the DISTINCT keyword or GROUP BY clause to aggregate data appropriately. Here's an example:

SELECT DISTINCT 
  author.name AS author_name, 
  publisher.name AS publisher_name
FROM author_books author
JOIN publisher_books publisher 
ON author.book_id = publisher.book_id;

In this example, we have two tables, author_books and publisher_books, with columns book_id and name for authors and publishers, respectively. The query retrieves distinct author and publisher names based on matching book IDs and gives them more meaningful aliases.

For more information, I recommend the following articles:

More SQL JOIN Resources

There are numerous resources available online for those looking to learn more about SQL JOINs. These resources range from interactive tutorials and courses that offer a hands-on approach to learning to comprehensive articles and guides that provide in-depth explanations and examples. They cater to different learning styles, ensuring that whether you prefer structured courses or self-paced learning, there's something available to suit your needs. One of my favorites is the SQL JOIN Cheat Sheet.

SQL JOINs: A Complete Guide

This awesome learning resource provides a comprehensive guide to JOINs, including syntax and practical examples. It covers JOIN types, along with advanced concepts like self-join and non-equi join.

The cheat sheet is available in PDF and PNG formats for easy reference and includes examples of queries with multiple joins and multiple conditions. It's an essential resource for anyone looking to master SQL JOINs, from beginners to advanced users.

Another source of great content for beginners is YouTube. Having watched hundreds of SQL JOIN tutorials there, I've handpicked the best ones for you. These tutorials stand out for their clarity, comprehensive coverage, and practical examples; they are extremely useful for anyone looking to master SQL JOINs. The tutorials below are a personal favorite, combining quality content with an engaging teaching style.





While video tutorials are an excellent way to learn the concepts of SQL JOINs, they need to be complemented with real practice. Writing and executing your own SQL queries is crucial in solidifying your understanding and skills. This hands-on experience allows you to apply what you've learned in practical scenarios, helping you to grasp the nuances of JOIN operations and how they function in real-world databases.

Learn and Practice SQL JOINs

Mastering SQL JOINs is a journey that begins with understanding the basics and gradually evolves into handling more complex queries. The resources, tutorials, and practice exercises highlighted in this guide are tailored to make this learning process engaging and effective for beginners.

Remember, consistent practice is key to becoming proficient in SQL JOINs. By exploring different JOIN types and applying them in various scenarios, you'll gain a comprehensive understanding and the ability to manipulate data effectively in your database projects.

Keep experimenting and learning, and soon SQL JOINs will become an integral part of your data management toolkit.