This SQL tutorial focuses on the SQL Server SELECT TOP statement, and provides explanations and examples.

The TOP statement allows limiting the number of records returned from a query, as well as displaying the number of highest/lowest rows, according to a certain condtion (Top N Analysis).

Limiting the Number of Rows

To limit the number of results returned, use the TOP command.

SELECT TOP N column, column, column ..
FROM table

For example, the following query returns only the first 10 results.

SELECT TOP 10 first_name
FROM employees

SQL Server SELECT TOP Clause – TOP-N Analysis

TOP-N analysis is used to limit the number of rows returned from an ordered set of data items. This are very useful when you would like to return the N lowest or highest rows.

SELECT TOP N column, column, column ..
FROM table
ORDER BY column

For example, the following SQL Server example returns the top ten earners in the company:

SELECT TOP 10 first_name, salary
FROM employees
ORDER BY salary DESC

You can use the keyword PERCENT to receive a certain percentage of the data, rather than an arbitrary number of rows. The following example returns the top 10 percent earners in the company.

SELECT TOP 10 PERCENT first_name, salary
FROM employees
ORDER BY salary DESC