How to Title Case a Column Value

Download the Code iconQ. I have a column that stores names composed of varying numbers of words. For example, one, two, three, or even more words separated by a single space might constitute a name. I want to update the column values so that the first letter of each word in the name is uppercase and all the other letters are lowercase.

A. Let's go to the Pubs database and use the title column in the titles table to help solve this problem. The solutions vary, depending on the release of SQL Server you're using. For SQL Server 7.0 and 6.5, you can use the following simple UPDATE query to make sure that only the first character in the title column values is uppercase:

UPDATE titles
  SET title =
  UPPER(LEFT(title, 1)) +
    LOWER(RIGHT(title, LEN(title) - 1))

In the same batch, you can run a loop that iterates through all occurrences of a single space in the column. The UPDATE query uses the STUFF() function to replace the space and the character to the right of the space with the pound sign (#) character and the uppercase of the character to the right of the space. (You can use the # character if that character doesn't appear in the title column.) By using a character that isn't included in the column values, the loop proceeds to the next space in each iteration and continues until the last update affects no rows.

Listing 3 shows code that loops through the words in a column's values and uses the STUFF() function to title case those words. When the loop finishes, the letters in the title column values are in the proper case, but the # character fills the spots where spaces appeared originally. For example, the name john gutzon de la mothe borglum would appear as John#Gutzon#De#La#Mothe#Borglum. You can use the following simple query to replace all occurrences of the # character with spaces:

UPDATE titles
  SET title = REPLACE(title, '#', ' ')

In SQL Server 2000, you can solve this problem more efficiently by using a user-defined function (UDF). The UDF first turns all the input string's characters to lowercase and adds a single space to the beginning of the string. Next, the UDF forms a loop that iterates through all space occurrences in the string and makes the character to the right of the space uppercase by using the STUFF() function. Then, the function trims the first space it added and returns the revised string, as Listing 4 shows.

To test the UDF, first run it with a literal as an argument:

SELECT  dbo.fn_title_case('jOhN gUtZoN dE lA mOtHe BoRgLuM')

You should get the following output:

John Gutzon De La Mothe Borglum

You can use the UDF as follows to update the title column in the titles table:

UPDATE titles
  SET title = dbo. fn_title_case(title)


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