6.2.1: Like

Sometimes we need to get information based on partial information. Consider someone using the University database and wanting to find courses where the course description contains the word “computer”. To find courses matching this criterion we can use the Like operator where we specify an appropriate pattern. These patterns are defined using one or more wildcard characters. By default, our MS Access databases use the ANSI-89 standard for special wildcard characters.

Note: At some point you may want to investigate the more recent ANSI-92 standard for wildcards. You can change the standard your database is using by examining and changing the MS Access Options for Object Designers/Query Design.

The ANSI-89 wildcard characters are:



Matching criteria



Matches any number of


Like “1*” matches all text strings that start with “1”


Matches any single character

Like “a?c” matches “aac”, “abc”, “acc”, etc. but does not match longer strings such as “aacc” or



Matches any single numeric


Like “b#b” would match “b2b” and “b7b” but not



Matches any single character

within the brackets

Like “j[ai]m” matches “jim” and “jam” but not



Used with [] when you do

not want to match any of the enclosed characters

Like “b[!ao]b” matches “bim” and “bub” but not “bam” or “bob”

Used with [] to specify a range of matching characters (given in ascending


Like “b[0-9]b” would match to “b2b” but not to “bam”

Like “b[a-c]b” would match “bab”, “bbb”, and


Figure 6.4: ANSI-89 wildcard characters



To list courses where the description begins with “This course” you need a pattern where you specify that a text value begins with “This course” which can be followed by anything else: “This course*”.

And so, in QBE you enter the criteria for title: Like “This course*”:


                 Figure 6.5: Using LIKE

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