T-SQL: Using Dense _RANK vs ROW_NUMBER with NUR

Sep 20, 2018

Greetings from OptWizard SEO! In this guide, we will explore the differences between the Dense_RANK and ROW_NUMBER functions in T-SQL, providing you with a comprehensive understanding of advanced query techniques to optimize your SQL queries.

The Role of Dense_RANK and ROW_NUMBER in T-SQL

T-SQL, or Transact-SQL, is a powerful programming language used to interact with relational databases, particularly in the Microsoft SQL Server environment. The Dense_RANK and ROW_NUMBER functions are commonly used in T-SQL queries to generate unique row numbers for result sets based on certain criteria.

Understanding ROW_NUMBER

The ROW_NUMBER function in T-SQL is used to assign a unique sequential number to each row within a specific partition of a result set. This function is often utilized when you need to identify and order rows based on specific criteria.

Consider a scenario where you have a table of customer orders and you want to assign a unique order number to each order, starting from 1. By using ROW_NUMBER, you can achieve this easily:

SELECT ROW_NUMBER() OVER(ORDER BY OrderDate) AS OrderNumber, CustomerName, OrderDate FROM Orders;

The query above will generate a result set with a sequential order number for each order based on the ascending order of the OrderDate column.

Exploring Dense_RANK

Similar to ROW_NUMBER, the Dense_RANK function assigns a unique rank to each row within a specific partition of a result set. However, unlike ROW_NUMBER, Dense_RANK can assign the same rank to multiple rows if they have the same values based on the ordering criteria.

Let's consider the same scenario of assigning order numbers to customer orders, but this time we want to assign the same order number to orders placed on the same date. By utilizing Dense_RANK, we can accomplish this:

SELECT Dense_RANK() OVER(ORDER BY OrderDate) AS OrderNumber, CustomerName, OrderDate FROM Orders;

In the query above, the Dense_RANK function will assign the same order number to orders with the same OrderDate, creating a dense ranking sequence.

Key Differences between Dense_RANK and ROW_NUMBER

While both Dense_RANK and ROW_NUMBER provide sequential numbering within a result set, they differ in terms of how they handle rows with identical values based on the ordering criteria:


  • Assigns the same rank to rows with identical values
  • Produces a dense ranking sequence
  • Increases the rank by 1 for each distinct value encountered


  • Assigns a unique number to each row
  • Generates a sequential numbering sequence
  • Does not increase the assigned number for identical values

Choosing the Right Function

Now that we understand the differences between Dense_RANK and ROW_NUMBER, it's essential to choose the right function based on your specific requirements:

Use Dense_RANK if:

  • You need to assign the same index or rank to equal values
  • You want a dense ranking sequence with no gaps
  • The order of equal values is important


  • You need a unique numbering sequence without repetition
  • The order of equal values is not relevant
  • You require a simple, sequential numbering

By selecting the appropriate function, you can optimize your T-SQL queries and achieve better accuracy and relevance in your data analysis and reporting.

Optimize Your SQL Queries with OptWizard SEO

At OptWizard SEO, our team of experts specializes in providing top-notch SEO services to enhance your online visibility and drive organic traffic to your website. We understand the importance of optimizing not only your website but also crucial aspects like your SQL queries.

By fine-tuning your T-SQL queries and leveraging the power of functions like Dense_RANK and ROW_NUMBER, we can help you achieve better performance, faster data retrieval, and improved overall efficiency in your database operations.

Reach out to us at OptWizard SEO today to explore how our SEO services can boost your online presence, optimize your SQL queries, and ensure that you outrank your competitors in the ever-competitive digital landscape.

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Nov 13, 2023
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This guide is very helpful in explaining the differences between Dense_RANK and ROW_NUMBER in T-SQL!
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