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Postgres trim() function

Remove leading and trailing characters from a string

The Postgres trim() function removes the specified characters from the beginning and/or end of a string.

This function is commonly used in data preprocessing tasks, such as cleaning user input before storing it in a database or standardizing data for comparison or analysis. For example, you might use it to remove extra spaces from product names or to standardize phone numbers by removing surrounding parentheses.

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Function signature

The trim() function has two forms:

trim([leading | trailing | both] [characters] from string) -> text
  • leading | trailing | both (optional): Specifies which part of the string to trim. If omitted, it defaults to both.
  • characters (optional): The set of characters to remove. If omitted, it defaults to spaces.
  • string: The input string to trim.
trim(string text [, characters text]) -> text
  • string: The input string to trim.
  • characters (optional): The characters to remove from both ends. If omitted, it defaults to spaces.

Example usage

Consider a table products with a product_name column that contains product names with inconsistent spacing. We can use trim() to standardize these names.

WITH products(product_name) AS (
    ('  Laptop  '),
    ('Smartphone '),
    (' Tablet'),
    ('  Wireless Earbuds  ')
SELECT trim(product_name) AS cleaned_name
FROM products;

This query removes leading and trailing spaces from the product_name column.

 Wireless Earbuds
(4 rows)

You can also use trim() to remove specific characters from both ends of a string.

WITH order_ids(id) AS (
SELECT trim(id, '#') AS cleaned_id
FROM order_ids;

This query removes the '#' characters from both ends of the id column.

(3 rows)

Advanced examples

Trim only leading or trailing characters

You can specify whether to trim characters from the beginning, end, or both sides of a string.

WITH user_inputs(input) AS (
    ('***Secret Password***'),
    ('***Admin Access***'),
    ('***Guest User***')
  trim(leading '*' from input) AS leading_trimmed,
  trim(trailing '*' from input) AS trailing_trimmed,
  trim(both '*' from input) AS both_trimmed
FROM user_inputs;

The query above demonstrates trimming asterisks from the beginning, end, and both sides of the input column, as shown in the following table.

leading_trimmed   |  trailing_trimmed  |  both_trimmed
 Secret Password*** | ***Secret Password | Secret Password
 Admin Access***    | ***Admin Access    | Admin Access
 Guest User***      | ***Guest User      | Guest User
(3 rows)

Use trim() in a WHERE clause

You can use trim() in a WHERE clause to filter rows based on matching a trimmed value.

WITH product_codes(code) AS (
    ('  ABC-123  '),
    (' ABC-789 '),
    ('  JKL-101  '),
    ('MNO-202 ')
SELECT code AS original_code, trim(code) AS trimmed_code
FROM product_codes
WHERE trim(code) LIKE 'ABC%';

The query above filters for rows where the trimmed code column starts with 'ABC', as shown in the following table:

original_code | trimmed_code
   ABC-123     | ABC-123
  ABC-789      | ABC-789
(2 rows)

Combine trim() with other string functions

You can combine trim() with other string functions for more complex string manipulations.

WITH user_emails(email) AS (
    ('  '),
    (' '),
    ('  ')
  trim(email) AS trimmed_email,
  upper(split_part(trim(email), '@', 1)) AS username
FROM user_emails;

The query above trims spaces from the email addresses and then extracts and uppercases the username part (before the '@' symbol).

trimmed_email      |  username
------------------------+------------   | JOHN.DOE | JANE.SMITH        | ADMIN
(3 rows)

Additional considerations

Performance implications

While trim() is generally efficient, using it extensively on large datasets, especially in WHERE clauses, may impact query performance. If you frequently filter or join based on trimmed values, consider creating a functional index on the trimmed column.

Handling NULL values

The trim() function returns NULL if the input string is NULL. Be aware of this when working with potentially NULL columns to avoid unexpected results.

Alternative functions

  • ltrim() - Removes specified characters from the beginning (left side) of a string.
  • rtrim() - Removes specified characters from the end (right side) of a string.
  • btrim() - Removes specified characters from both the beginning and end of a string.
  • regexp_replace() - Can be used for more complex trimming operations using regular expressions.


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