How to create and maintain table comments in MySQL

It is a very good idea, and often overlooked, to create a table comment when creating a table. Months later when you’ve forgotten what eggs_x_chickens was for, the comment will be extremely useful. It is especially useful if multiple people will be accessing the database, but you should go to the effort to do it even if the table is for your private consumption.

How to create a comment:

CREATE TABLE testing (
    name VARCHAR(5)
) COMMENT='this is testing';

How to view the comment:

| Table   | CreateTable                                            |
| testing | CREATE TABLE `testing` (
  `name` varchar(5) default NULL
) ENGINE=MyISAM DEFAULT CHARSET=latin1 COMMENT='this is testing'   |

Even more often overlooked: if you’ve repurposed or redesigned a table an out of date comment should be updated, because an incorrect table comment is worse than none at all.

ALTER TABLE tablename COMMENT = 'new updated comment';

If you liked this post, check out Seven Deadly SQL Sins series at hubpages. Are you making any of these potentially career-ending mistakes with SQL?

14 comments to How to create and maintain table comments in MySQL

  • I really need to get to grips with MYSQL as well as other stuff like PHP and html. The skills would definitely come in handy with my internet stuff, but all the computer language gives me nothing but a headache at times.

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  • Michael

    as written this does not function….

  • admin

    Beg pardon Michael? whoever you are? It works fine. I am not in the habit of posting stuff that doesn’t work. You didn’t say what version you used or what the error message is, so I can only assume that you are either trying to cause trouble or you tried just cut/pasteing the last statement verbatim without understanding the post. It is quite clear from the context that tablename is meant to be replaced with the name of an existing table.

  • […] while back I was lamenting that table comments in MySQL  get overlooked, and did a post on it, both how to create them, how to update them, and how to view them.  The fact that my table […]

  • Ben

    Here’s another way to view table comments:


    This will output details about the tables, including a column for Comment.

  • admin

    awesome, there are often several ways to skin the same cat.

  • Thanks

    Thanks, works like a charm!

  • Reginald

    The ALTER TABLE seems to be ignored, at least by the “show create table” statement:

    mysql> create table comment_test (id integer);
    Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.08 sec)

    mysql> show create table comment_test;
    | Table | Create Table |
    | comment_test | CREATE TABLE "comment_test" (
    "id" int(11) DEFAULT NULL
    ) |
    1 row in set (0.00 sec)

    mysql> alter table comment_test comment = 'My Comment';
    Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.01 sec)
    Records: 0 Duplicates: 0 Warnings: 0

    mysql> show create table comment_test;
    | Table | Create Table |
    | comment_test | CREATE TABLE "comment_test" (
    "id" int(11) DEFAULT NULL
    ) |
    1 row in set (0.00 sec)


    But it is displayed when using SHOW TABLE STATUS

    Tested on 5.1.32-community using Windows XP

  • Colleen

    There are better ways to do it now. This post was fine when it was written but is pretty outdated. 🙂

  • Reginald

    I don’t see any other possibility to add a comment through SQL.
    So what would be the “better way now”?

  • Colleen

    I mean use show table status if you want to see it.

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