Fixing the 00904. 00000 Error: Troubleshooting the %s: Invalid Identifier Issue in SQL Queries

When working with SQL queries, you may encounter an error message like "ORA-00904: Invalid Identifier." This error can be frustrating, but it is relatively easy to fix. In this guide, we will discuss the possible causes of the ORA-00904 error and provide step-by-step solutions to help you resolve it.

Table of Contents

  1. Understanding the ORA-00904 Error
  2. Common Causes and Solutions
  3. FAQs
  4. Related Links

Understanding the ORA-00904 Error

The ORA-00904 error occurs when an SQL query references an invalid identifier. An identifier can be a column name, table name, or alias, and it must follow the naming rules for Oracle Database objects.

Here's an example of the error message:

ORA-00904: "EMPLOYEE_NAME": invalid identifier

In this example, the issue is with the EMPLOYEE_NAME column.

Common Causes and Solutions

Cause 1: Misspelled or Incorrect Identifier

One of the most common reasons for the ORA-00904 error is a misspelled or incorrect identifier. To fix this error, double-check your SQL query and ensure that all column names, table names, and aliases are correct.


  1. Review the SQL query and identify the invalid identifier.
  2. Compare the identifier with the actual table or column name in your database schema.
  3. Correct the identifier in your query and re-run it.

Cause 2: Missing or Mismatched Table Alias

If you are using table aliases in your query, you may encounter the ORA-00904 error if an alias is missing or mismatched.


  1. Review the SQL query to ensure that all table aliases are correctly defined and used.
  2. If an alias is missing or incorrect, update the query accordingly and re-run it.

Cause 3: Quoted Identifiers

Quoted identifiers can cause the ORA-00904 error if they are not used consistently. When using quoted identifiers, you must use double quotes and ensure that the case is consistent between the query and the database schema.


  1. Check your query for any quoted identifiers.
  2. Ensure that the case of the quoted identifier matches the case in your database schema.
  3. Update your query accordingly and re-run it.


Q1: Can the ORA-00904 error occur when using reserved words as identifiers?

Yes, using Oracle reserved words as identifiers can cause the ORA-00904 error. To avoid this issue, use non-reserved words for your table and column names, or use double quotes to create a quoted identifier.

Q2: Can the ORA-00904 error be caused by incorrect syntax in the SQL query?

Yes, incorrect syntax in your SQL query can also lead to the ORA-00904 error. Double-check your query for any syntax errors and correct them before re-running the query.

Q3: Can I use special characters in my identifiers?

Oracle identifiers can include special characters, but they must be enclosed in double quotes. Keep in mind that using special characters can make your queries more difficult to read and maintain.

Q4: What is the maximum length of an identifier in Oracle Database?

The maximum length of an identifier in Oracle Database is 128 bytes. This includes any double quotes and special characters.

Q5: Can I avoid the ORA-00904 error by using wildcard characters in my SQL query?

Using wildcard characters (such as *) can help prevent the ORA-00904 error by selecting all columns in a table. However, using wildcards can lead to other issues, such as retrieving unnecessary data or causing performance problems. It's generally best to explicitly list the columns you need in your query.

  1. Oracle Database Error Messages - Official Oracle documentation for error messages
  2. SQL*Plus User's Guide and Reference - Guide to using SQL*Plus, a command-line tool for running SQL queries in Oracle Database
  3. Oracle SQL Developer Documentation - Documentation for Oracle SQL Developer, a graphical tool for working with Oracle databases

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