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Conditional Statement in QGIS Field Calculator

How To Create Conditional Statements in QGIS Field Calculator

Creating conditional statements in QGIS’s Field Calculator allows you to perform data manipulation based on specific conditions. These conditional statements can be used for tasks like updating field values or creating new fields based on conditions. Here’s a basic overview of how to use conditional statements in the QGIS Field Calculator:

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Using the if Function

The if function is the most straightforward way to implement conditional logic. The syntax is:

if(condition, value_if_true, value_if_false)
  • condition: The condition you want to check.
  • value_if_true: The value that will be returned if the condition is true.
  • value_if_true: The value that will be returned if the condition is false.


Suppose you have a layer with a field named population. You want to classify each record into 'High', 'Medium', or 'Low' population categories based on the population count:

if("population" > 1000000, 'High', 
   if("population" > 500000, 'Medium', 'Low'))

Using the case Statement

For more complex conditions or when dealing with multiple conditions, the case statement is very useful. The syntax is:

    when condition1 then result1
    when condition2 then result2
    else default_result


Continuing with the population example, using a case statement:

    when "population" > 1000000 then 'High'
    when "population" > 500000 then 'Medium'
    else 'Low'

Steps to Use Field Calculator

  1. Open Attribute Table: Open the layer’s attribute table you want to work on.
  2. Open Field Calculator: Click on the “Field Calculator” icon.
  3. Create a New Field or Update an Existing One: Decide if you want to create a new field with your conditional logic or update an existing field. If creating a new one, check the “Create a new field” option and provide a name for the field.
  4. Enter the Expression: Use the if function or case statement in the expression box to define your conditional logic.
  5. Execute: Click “OK” to run the Field Calculator and apply your expression.

Remember, the Field Calculator in QGIS is a powerful tool, allowing for complex data manipulation and classification using conditional logic. Always backup your data before making large-scale edits.

Here are some frequently asked questions on this topic:

What are conditional statements used for in QGIS Field Calculator?

  • Conditional statements are used to perform calculations or modify field values based on certain conditions, allowing for dynamic data analysis and manipulation.

How do I use the if function in the QGIS Field Calculator?

  • The if function is used by specifying a condition, what to return if the condition is true, and what to return if the condition is false. It follows the syntax if(condition, value_if_true, value_if_false).

Can I nest if statements in the QGIS Field Calculator? How?

  • Yes, you can nest if statements to evaluate multiple conditions by placing an if statement as the value_if_true or value_if_false parameter of another if statement.

What is the difference between the if function and the case statement in the QGIS Field Calculator?

  • The if function is typically used for simple, single conditions or for nested conditions, whereas the case statement is better suited for evaluating multiple distinct conditions, making the code more readable and organized.

How do I use a case statement in the QGIS Field Calculator?

  • The case statement evaluates multiple conditions using a series of when clauses and returns a result for the first true condition. It follows the syntax: case when condition1 then result1 when condition2 then result2 ... else default_result end.

Can I perform mathematical operations within conditional statements?

  • Yes, you can perform mathematical operations as part of the expressions for value_if_true, value_if_false, or within the conditions themselves.

How can I classify data into categories using conditional statements?

  • Data can be classified into categories by using conditional statements to check against specific criteria and return category labels as outcomes.

Is it possible to update existing field values using conditional statements in QGIS?

  • Yes, you can choose to update existing fields with new values based on conditions evaluated by your conditional statements.

Can I use conditional statements to calculate values for a new field in QGIS?

  • Absolutely, the Field Calculator allows you to create a new field and populate it with values calculated based on conditional logic.

Are there any best practices for using conditional statements in QGIS Field Calculator?

  • Some best practices include testing your expressions on a small dataset first, using comments to explain complex logic, keeping your expressions as simple as possible, and always backing up your data before applying changes to a large dataset.

About the Author
I'm Daniel O'Donohue, the voice and creator behind The MapScaping Podcast ( A podcast for the geospatial community ). With a professional background as a geospatial specialist, I've spent years harnessing the power of spatial to unravel the complexities of our world, one layer at a time.