Awesome Open Source
Awesome Open Source

Practical SQL: A Beginner's Guide to Storytelling with Data

Practical SQL by journalist and data analyst Anthony DeBarros is a beginner-friendly guide to the database programming language SQL. Starting with SQL basics, you'll work through intermediate and advanced topics including statistics, aggregation, cleaning data, GIS and automating tasks. Along the way, you'll use real-world data from the U.S. Census and other government agencies and learn the fundamentals of good database design. This book is ideal for beginners as well as those who know some SQL and want to go deeper.

Practical SQL uses the free, open-source database PostgreSQL, the pgAdmin GUI, and the PostGIS extension -- technologies used by developers around the world. Much of the SQL syntax and concepts are transferable to other database systems such as MySQL, SQLite, and Microsoft's SQL Server. The book notes when syntax or a function is PostgreSQL-specific.

Practical SQL is published by No Starch Press and available in PDF, .mobi, .epub, and classic print formats.

Questions? I love to hear from readers. Please email [email protected]

What's Here

Code: All the SQL statements and command-line listings used in each chapter, organized by chapter folders.

Data: CSV files and GIS shapefiles for you to import, also organized by chapter. NOTE! See the warning below about opening CSV files with Excel or text editors in the section on Getting the Code and Data.

Exercises: The "Try It Yourself" questions and answers for each chapter, listed separately. Try working through the questions before peeking at the answers!

FAQ, Updates, and Errata: Answers to frequently asked questions, updates, and corrections are noted at

Resources: Updates to the book's Appendix on Additional PostgreSQL Resources at


  • Chapter 1: Creating Your First Database and Table
  • Chapter 2: Beginning Data Exploration with SELECT
  • Chapter 3: Understanding Data Types
  • Chapter 4: Importing and Exporting Data
  • Chapter 5: Basic Math and Stats with SQL
  • Chapter 6: Joining Tables in a Relational Database
  • Chapter 7: Table Design That Works for You
  • Chapter 8: Extracting Information by Grouping and Summarizing
  • Chapter 9: Inspecting and Modifying Data
  • Chapter 10: Statistical Functions In SQL
  • Chapter 11: Working With Dates and Times
  • Chapter 12: Advanced Query Techniques
  • Chapter 13: Mining Text to Find Meaningful Data
  • Chapter 14: Analyzing Spatial Data with PostGIS
  • Chapter 15: Saving Time with Views, Functions, and Triggers
  • Chapter 16: Using PostgreSQL from the Command Line
  • Chapter 17: Maintaining Your Database
  • Chapter 18: Identifying and Telling the Story Behind Your Data
  • Appendix: Additional PostgreSQL Resources

Getting the Code and Data on Your Computer

Non-GitHub Users

You can obtain all the code and data at once by downloading this repository as a .zip file. To do that:

  • Click the Code button at top right.
  • Click Download ZIP
  • Unzip the file on your computer. Place it in a directory that's easy to remember so you can reference it during the exercises that include importing data to PostgreSQL.

Warning about CSV files!: Opening CSV files with Excel could lead to data loss. Excel will remove leading zeros from numbers that are intended to be stored as text, such as zip codes. If you wish to view the contents of a CSV file, only do so with a plain-text editor and be careful not to save the file in an encoding other than UTF-8 (e.g., Notepad.exe on Windows defaults to ANSI).

GitHub Users

GitHub users may want to clone the repository locally and occasionally perform a git pull to receive any updates.

Get A Weekly Email With Trending Projects For These Topics
No Spam. Unsubscribe easily at any time.
postgresql (746
sql (722
plpgsql (133