You will probably use query to create simple reports. When you make selections upon character fields, query is 'case sensitive'. This means that it is important to know if the contents of your character fields are in uppercase or in lowercase. SQL uses functions like UPPER() to translate the contents of a field into uppercase before making a comparison, query doesn't have such a function. However, when you specify a 'collating sequence' and use your languages collating sequence (for example 'Query/400 English', this means that not only your sorting will be done independently from the upper or lower case in the character fields, but joining files, finding minimum and maximum values and report breaks is also independent from the uppercase or lowercase. The characters get the same 'weight'.
In query's submenu 'Specify Processing Options', you can define that the selected collating sequence has to be used also in character comparisons. That means that it doesn't matter if uppercase or lowercase is used within your comparisons. So no need for SQLs UPPER().
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This was first published in July 2002