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4GuysFromRolla.com : ASP FAQS : Databases, Queries


How can I eliminate duplicates from a recordset?

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Answer: This question typically appears in the context of producing a <SELECT> list from a database table, where the user wants to show a list of all the unique items in the table. But the same problem can appear in different guises.

The answer is the Distinct keyword of SQL.

Consider this table:

Name      Group    Status
Jones     Admin    Active
Smith     Admin    Passive
Wilson    Sales    Active
Hanson    Sales    Passive
Barney    Systems  Active
Halley    Systems  Active

Let's look at the different kinds of queries we can make on that table and the results we will get.


Makes sense! We asked for all the possible values of Group but then used Distinct to eliminate the duplicates!

SQL = "SELECT DISTINCT Group, Status FROM table ORDER BY Group"
    Admin, Active
    Admin, Passive
    Sales, Active
    Sales, Passive
    Systems, Active

Aha! The Distinct keyword applies to all fields of the returned recordset! If two records are different in any field, then they are different. Period. And using Distinct will not magically collapse them into one entry.

Do note the Systems example! Only one record is returned here, because all (okay, both) the Systems entries have the same value for Status so indeed there is only one truly distinct record.


FAQ posted by Bill Wilkinson at 10/17/2000 8:09:42 PM to the Databases, Queries category. This FAQ has been viewed 50,160 times.

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Last computed at 9/17/2007 3:22:00 AM

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