SQL Standard

SQL LTRIM() Function

One of the most common tasks in SQL and other programming languages is manipulating and working with string data. This might include the string concatenation, upper or lower casing conversion, string trimming, and many more.

One of the most common string manipulation tasks in SQL is trimming or removing the whitespace characters from a given input string.

In this tutorial, we will learn about the LTRIM() function which plays a crucial role in string trimming.


In SQL, the LTRIM() function stands for left trim. The function allows us to remove any and or leading (leftmost) characters from a given string value.

This function is particularly useful when dealing with data that may contain unnecessary whitespace at the beginning of the strings which allows us to cleanup the values from the database.


The syntax for the LTRIM function in SQL may vary slightly depending on the database engine. In MySQL, the syntax is as follows:


The “string_to_trim” specifies the input string from which we wish to remove any leading whitespace characters.

Example 1: Basic Usage (MySQL)

Let us look at some practical examples on how to use the LTRIM function. We start with a basic usage and then proceed to cover some more advanced examples.

Sample Data:

Before diving into the queries, consider an example table that contains the “employee” data as follows:

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Suppose we wish to retrieve the “job_title” from the table where the leading whitespace characters are removed. We can use the LTRIM function as demonstrated in the following:

SELECT LTRIM(job_title) AS cleaned_job_title FROM emp;


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Example 2: Trimming Specific Characters

By default, the LTRIM function removes the space characters from the input string. However, we can specify the specific characters that we wish to remove from the input string.

For example, to remove all occurrence of the tab character, we can use the “\t” value as shown in the following example:

SELECT LTRIM('\t' FROM last_name) AS trimmed_last_name FROM emp;

This should remove all tab characters from the strings in the specified column.

NOTE: You can specify any supported character.


In this tutorial, we learned about the LTRIM() function in SQL to discover how to trim any occurrence of the specified characters from a given string.

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John Otieno

My name is John and am a fellow geek like you. I am passionate about all things computers from Hardware, Operating systems to Programming. My dream is to share my knowledge with the world and help out fellow geeks. Follow my content by subscribing to LinuxHint mailing list