Order and Group by Sql

admin4 April 2024Last Update :

Understanding the ORDER BY Clause in SQL

The ORDER BY clause in SQL is fundamental for sorting the results of a query in a specific order. It can sort the data in ascending (ASC) or descending (DESC) order, which is specified after the column name in the SQL statement. By default, if no order is specified, the sorting is done in ascending order.

Basic Syntax of ORDER BY

The basic syntax for using the ORDER BY clause is as follows:

SELECT column1, column2, ...
FROM table_name
ORDER BY column1 [ASC|DESC], column2 [ASC|DESC], ...;

This clause can be applied to not only columns that are explicitly selected in the SELECT statement but also to columns that are not selected but exist in the table.

Sorting by Multiple Columns

It is possible to sort by multiple columns in SQL. When sorting by multiple columns, the priority of sorting is given to the columns in the order they are listed.

SELECT first_name, last_name, age
FROM employees
ORDER BY last_name ASC, first_name ASC;

In the above example, the results will be sorted by last_name in ascending order first, and then by first_name in ascending order.

Delving into the GROUP BY Clause in SQL

The GROUP BY clause is used in collaboration with aggregate functions like COUNT(), MAX(), MIN(), SUM(), AVG() to group the result-set by one or more columns. It is essential for generating summary reports from the data.

Basic Syntax of GROUP BY

The basic syntax for using the GROUP BY clause is as follows:

SELECT column_name, aggregate_function(column_name)
FROM table_name
WHERE condition
GROUP BY column_name;

The GROUP BY clause must follow the WHERE clause in a SQL statement and precede the ORDER BY clause if one is used.

Grouping by Multiple Columns

SQL allows grouping by multiple columns, which can be useful for more complex data analysis.

SELECT department, COUNT(employee_id) as employee_count
FROM employees
GROUP BY department;

In this example, employees are grouped by their department, and the number of employees in each department is counted.

Combining ORDER BY and GROUP BY

ORDER BY and GROUP BY can be used together in a single query to group the data and then sort it.

GROUP BY with ORDER BY Example

Here’s an example of how to use both clauses together:

SELECT department, COUNT(employee_id) as employee_count
FROM employees
GROUP BY department
ORDER BY employee_count DESC;

This query will group the employees by department and then order the departments by the descending number of employees.

Advanced Usage of ORDER BY

Sorting by Expression

SQL allows sorting by expressions or functions. This can be particularly useful when you need to sort by a computed value.

SELECT first_name, last_name, (yearly_salary / 12) as monthly_salary
FROM employees
ORDER BY monthly_salary DESC;

In this example, employees are sorted by their calculated monthly salary in descending order.

Sorting by Alias

You can also sort by an alias, which is a temporary name given to a table or a column in the query.

SELECT first_name AS fname, last_name AS lname
FROM employees
ORDER BY lname, fname;

Here, the results are sorted by the last name and then by the first name using aliases.

Advanced Usage of GROUP BY

GROUP BY with Having Clause

The HAVING clause is often used with the GROUP BY clause to filter groups based on a condition.

SELECT department, COUNT(employee_id) as employee_count
FROM employees
GROUP BY department
HAVING COUNT(employee_id) > 10;

This query will display departments with more than 10 employees.


The ROLLUP extension is used with GROUP BY to create subtotals and grand totals within a result set.

SELECT department, job_title, COUNT(*) as employee_count
FROM employees
GROUP BY ROLLUP(department, job_title);

This query will produce a result set that includes a row for each department and job title combination, as well as subtotals for each department and a grand total for all departments.

Practical Examples and Case Studies

Case Study: E-commerce Sales Data

Imagine an e-commerce platform wants to analyze its sales data. They could use a combination of ORDER BY and GROUP BY to find out which products are the best sellers and how they perform in different regions.

SELECT product_name, region, SUM(sales_amount) as total_sales
FROM sales_data
GROUP BY product_name, region
ORDER BY total_sales DESC;

This query would help the e-commerce platform to focus on stocking and promoting products that are performing well in specific regions.

Example: Student Grade Report

A school database may need to generate a report of average student grades by class, sorted from highest to lowest average.

SELECT class_id, AVG(grade) as average_grade
FROM student_grades
GROUP BY class_id
ORDER BY average_grade DESC;

This query would help educators identify which classes are performing well and which may need additional support.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can ORDER BY and GROUP BY be used in the same query?

Yes, ORDER BY and GROUP BY can be used in the same query. GROUP BY will aggregate the data into groups, and ORDER BY will sort the results.

What is the difference between WHERE and HAVING clauses?

The WHERE clause is used to filter rows before any groupings are made, while the HAVING clause is used to filter groups after the GROUP BY clause has been applied.

Can we use aliases in the GROUP BY clause?

Yes, aliases defined in the SELECT statement can be used in the GROUP BY clause.

Is it necessary to include an aggregate function when using GROUP BY?

Yes, when using GROUP BY, you should include at least one aggregate function to summarize the data within each group.

Can we group by a column that is not in the SELECT statement?

No, all columns listed in the GROUP BY clause must be present in the SELECT clause unless they are used in an aggregate function.


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