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How to use SELECT INTO in PostgreSQL?

How to use SELECT INTO in PostgreSQL?

Learn how to efficiently use the SELECT INTO statement in PostgreSQL to create new tables from query results.

In this article, we will explore the intricacies of using the SELECT INTO command in PostgreSQL. We will begin by gaining a solid understanding of the basics of PostgreSQL as well as its key features. Following that, we will delve into an introduction to SQL commands, discussing their vital role in database management and exploring some commonly used SQL commands.

Understanding the Basics of PostgreSQL

Before we dive into the details of SELECT INTO, let's take a moment to familiarize ourselves with PostgreSQL. PostgreSQL is a powerful, open-source relational database management system that offers a wide range of features and capabilities. It is renowned for its stability, reliability, and extensive SQL support.

What is PostgreSQL?

PostgreSQL, often referred to as Postgres, is an object-relational database management system that provides a robust and scalable solution for handling data. It adheres to the SQL standard and offers additional features like support for JSON and XML, spatial data capabilities, and extensive extensibility through user-defined functions and data types.

Key Features of PostgreSQL

PostgreSQL boasts an impressive array of features that make it a preferred choice for many developers and enterprises. Some of its notable features include:

ACID compliance is a fundamental aspect of PostgreSQL that ensures the reliability and integrity of data. By adhering to the principles of Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability, PostgreSQL guarantees that database transactions are processed reliably and consistently, even in the face of system failures or errors.

Another key feature of PostgreSQL is its extensibility. This means that users have the flexibility to define their own data types, operators, and functions, allowing them to tailor the database to their specific needs. This level of customization empowers developers to create unique and efficient solutions for their applications.

In addition to its core features, PostgreSQL also offers powerful full-text search capabilities. This means that users can perform efficient searches within textual data, enabling them to find relevant information quickly and accurately. Whether it's searching through large volumes of documents or analyzing text-based data, PostgreSQL provides the tools necessary to extract meaningful insights.

Concurrency control is yet another important feature of PostgreSQL. With support for multiple concurrency control methods, PostgreSQL ensures that simultaneous database operations are handled efficiently and without conflicts. This allows for high-performance and scalable applications, even in environments with heavy concurrent access.

Introduction to SQL Commands

Now that we have a solid foundation in PostgreSQL, let's explore the role of SQL commands in database management. SQL, which stands for Structured Query Language, is a standard language for interacting with databases. It allows users to perform various operations like querying data, modifying table structures, and managing user access.

Role of SQL in Database Management

SQL plays a crucial role in managing databases by enabling users to interact with the data stored in them. With SQL commands, users can retrieve specific data based on their requirements, insert new records, update existing data, and delete unnecessary data. SQL provides a standardized way to communicate with the database, making it easier to work with data in a consistent manner.

Common SQL Commands

SQL commands form the building blocks of database management. Here are some commonly used SQL commands:

  1. SELECT: Used to retrieve data from one or more tables based on specified conditions.
  2. INSERT: Used to insert new records into a table.
  3. UPDATE: Used to modify existing records in a table.
  4. DELETE: Used to remove records from a table based on specified conditions.

Let's dive deeper into these commands and explore their functionalities:

SELECT: This command is one of the most commonly used SQL commands. It allows users to retrieve data from one or more tables based on specified conditions. The SELECT command is highly versatile and can be used to extract specific columns or all columns from a table. It also supports various operators and functions to filter and manipulate the retrieved data.

INSERT: The INSERT command is used to add new records into a table. It enables users to specify the values for each column in the table, allowing for precise control over the data being inserted. This command is essential for adding new data to a database, whether it's a single record or multiple records at once.

UPDATE: With the UPDATE command, users can modify existing records in a table. This command allows for the alteration of specific columns or all columns in a table, based on specified conditions. It provides a powerful way to update data in bulk or make targeted changes to individual records.

DELETE: The DELETE command is used to remove records from a table based on specified conditions. It allows users to selectively delete data, ensuring that only the desired records are removed. This command is useful for maintaining data integrity and removing unnecessary or outdated information from the database.

By understanding and utilizing these common SQL commands, users can effectively manage and manipulate data within a database. SQL provides a powerful and flexible toolset for database management, making it an essential skill for anyone working with data-driven applications.

Deep Dive into SELECT INTO Command

Having gained an understanding of SQL commands, let's now focus on the SELECT INTO command in particular. SELECT INTO is a powerful PostgreSQL command that allows you to retrieve data from one table and store it in a new table. This command is especially useful when you want to extract specific data for further analysis or reporting purposes.


The SELECT INTO command in PostgreSQL combines the SELECT and CREATE TABLE statements into a single powerful statement. It enables you to select data from an existing table or a result set and store it in a new table. This new table inherits the structure and data types of the selected columns, making it a convenient way to create temporary tables or extract specific data for further manipulation.

Syntax and Structure of SELECT INTO

To use the SELECT INTO command, you need to follow a specific syntax. Here's the basic structure:

SELECT column1, column2, ...INTO new_tableFROM source_table;

In this syntax, column1, column2, ... represents the columns you want to select from the source_table and new_table is the name of the table where the selected data will be stored.

Let's dive deeper into the syntax and structure of the SELECT INTO command. The column1, column2, ... part of the command allows you to specify the columns you want to select from the source_table. You can select one or multiple columns, depending on your requirements. This flexibility gives you the freedom to extract only the necessary data, reducing the size and complexity of the resulting table.

Furthermore, the new_table parameter in the command represents the name of the table where the selected data will be stored. It's important to choose a meaningful and descriptive name for the new table, as it will help you and other users understand the purpose and content of the table at a glance. A well-named table can greatly improve the overall readability and maintainability of your SQL code.

Implementing SELECT INTO in PostgreSQL

Now that we have a firm grasp on the basics of SELECT INTO, let's explore the steps involved in implementing this command in PostgreSQL.

Pre-requisites for Using SELECT INTO

Before you can use the SELECT INTO command, you need to ensure that you have the necessary privileges to create tables and select data from existing tables. Additionally, you should have a clear understanding of the data you want to extract and the purpose of the new table you intend to create.

Step-by-step Guide to Using SELECT INTO

Here's a step-by-step guide to using the SELECT INTO command in PostgreSQL:

  1. Identify the data you want to extract from an existing table.
  2. Formulate the SELECT INTO statement, specifying the columns you want to retrieve and the target table where the data will be stored.
  3. Execute the SELECT INTO statement using a PostgreSQL client or a command-line interface.
  4. Verify the successful creation of the new table and inspect the extracted data.

Troubleshooting Common Errors with SELECT INTO

While using the SELECT INTO command, you may encounter certain errors or unexpected behavior. Let's explore some common errors and their solutions.

Identifying Common Errors

When working with SELECT INTO, it's important to be aware of potential errors that can occur. Some common errors include invalid column references, insufficient privileges, and duplicate table names.

Solutions for Common SELECT INTO Errors

To troubleshoot these errors, consider the following solutions:

  • Double-check column references to ensure they exist in the source table.
  • Ensure that you have the necessary privileges to create tables and access the required data.
  • If encountering table name conflicts, choose a different name for the target table or drop the existing table.

Congratulations! You now have a thorough understanding of how to use SELECT INTO in PostgreSQL. With this powerful command, you can extract and store data efficiently, opening up a world of possibilities for data analysis and reporting. Take advantage of the rich features of PostgreSQL and make the most of your data-driven applications.

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