Microsoft SQL Server Format


SQL Server 2012

Returns a NVARCHAR value formatted with the specified format and culture (if specified). This is primarily used for converting date-time types to strings.


  1. value. An expression of a supported data type to format. valid types are listed below.
  2. format. An NVARCHAR format pattern. See Microsoft official documentation for standard and custom format strings.
  3. culture. Optional. nvarchar argument specifying a culture. The default value is the culture of the current session.


Using standard format strings:

DECLARE @d DATETIME = '2016-07-31';  

    FORMAT ( @d, 'd', 'en-US' ) AS 'US English Result' -- Returns '7/31/2016'
   ,FORMAT ( @d, 'd', 'en-gb' ) AS 'Great Britain English Result' -- Returns '31/07/2016'
   ,FORMAT ( @d, 'd', 'de-de' ) AS 'German Result' -- Returns '31.07.2016'
   ,FORMAT ( @d, 'd', 'zh-cn' ) AS 'Simplified Chinese (PRC) Result' -- Returns '2016/7/31'
   ,FORMAT ( @d, 'D', 'en-US' ) AS 'US English Result' -- Returns 'Sunday, July 31, 2016'
   ,FORMAT ( @d, 'D', 'en-gb' ) AS 'Great Britain English Result' -- Returns '31 July 2016'
   ,FORMAT ( @d, 'D', 'de-de' ) AS 'German Result' -- Returns 'Sonntag, 31. Juli 2016'

Using custom format strings:

SELECT FORMAT( @d, 'dd/MM/yyyy', 'en-US' ) AS 'DateTime Result' -- Returns '31/07/2016'
      ,FORMAT(123456789,'###-##-####') AS 'Custom Number Result' -- Returns '123-45-6789',
      ,FORMAT( @d,'dddd, MMMM dd, yyyy hh:mm:ss tt','en-US') AS 'US' -- Returns 'Sunday, July 31, 2016 12:00:00 AM'
      ,FORMAT( @d,'dddd, MMMM dd, yyyy hh:mm:ss tt','hi-IN') AS 'Hindi' -- Returns रविवार, जुलाई 31, 2016 12:00:00 पूर्वाह्न
      ,FORMAT ( @d, 'dddd', 'en-US' )  AS 'US' -- Returns 'Sunday'
      ,FORMAT ( @d, 'dddd', 'hi-IN' )  AS 'Hindi' -- Returns 'रविवार'

FORMAT can also be used for formatting CURRENCY,PERCENTAGE and NUMBERS.


DECLARE @Price1 INT = 40
SELECT FORMAT(@Price1,'c','en-US') AS 'CURRENCY IN US Culture' -- Returns '$40.00'      
       ,FORMAT(@Price1,'c','de-DE') AS 'CURRENCY IN GERMAN Culture' -- Returns '40,00 €'

We can specify the number of digits after the decimal.

DECLARE @Price DECIMAL(5,3) = 40.356
SELECT FORMAT( @Price, 'C') AS 'Default', -- Returns '$40.36'
       FORMAT( @Price, 'C0') AS 'With 0 Decimal', -- Returns '$40'
       FORMAT( @Price, 'C1') AS 'With 1 Decimal', -- Returns '$40.4'
       FORMAT( @Price, 'C2') AS 'With 2 Decimal', -- Returns '$40.36'


   DECLARE @Percentage float = 0.35674
   SELECT FORMAT( @Percentage, 'P') AS '% Default', -- Returns '35.67 %'
   FORMAT( @Percentage, 'P0') AS '% With 0 Decimal', -- Returns '36 %'
   FORMAT( @Percentage, 'P1') AS '% with 1 Decimal'  -- Returns '35.7 %'


DECLARE @Number AS DECIMAL(10,2) = 454545.389
SELECT FORMAT( @Number, 'N','en-US') AS 'Number Format in US', -- Returns '454,545.39'
FORMAT( @Number, 'N','en-IN')  AS 'Number Format in INDIA', -- Returns '4,54,545.39'
FORMAT( @Number, '#.0')     AS 'With 1 Decimal', -- Returns '454545.4'
FORMAT( @Number, '#.00')    AS 'With 2 Decimal', -- Returns '454545.39'
FORMAT( @Number, '#,##.00') AS 'With Comma and 2 Decimal', -- Returns '454,545.39'
FORMAT( @Number, '##.00')   AS 'Without Comma and 2 Decimal', -- Returns '454545.39'
FORMAT( @Number, '000000000') AS 'Left-padded to nine digits' -- Returns '000454545'

Valid value types list: (source)

Category         Type             .Net type
Numeric          bigint           Int64
Numeric          int              Int32
Numeric          smallint         Int16
Numeric          tinyint          Byte
Numeric          decimal          SqlDecimal
Numeric          numeric          SqlDecimal
Numeric          float            Double
Numeric          real             Single
Numeric          smallmoney       Decimal
Numeric          money            Decimal
Date and Time    date             DateTime
Date and Time    time             TimeSpan
Date and Time    datetime         DateTime
Date and Time    smalldatetime    DateTime
Date and Time    datetime2        DateTime
Date and Time    datetimeoffset   DateTimeOffset

Important Notes:

  • FORMAT returns NULL for errors other than a culture that is not valid. For example, NULL is returned if the value specified in format is not valid.
  • FORMAT relies on the presence of the .NET Framework Common Language Runtime (CLR).
  • FORMAT relies upon CLR formatting rules which dictate that colons and periods must be escaped. Therefore, when the format string (second parameter) contains a colon or period, the colon or period must be escaped with backslash when an input value (first parameter) is of the time data type.

See also Date & Time Formatting using FORMAT documentation example.