Elasticsearch Elasticsearch Null Value

By Opster Team

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

| 2 min read

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Null values can pose challenges in any data-driven environment, including Elasticsearch. They can affect search results and data analysis, leading to inaccurate outcomes. Therefore, understanding how to handle null values effectively is crucial for maintaining the integrity of your Elasticsearch operations.

Default behavior of Elasticsearch with null values

By default, Elasticsearch does not index or store null values. In other words, when Elasticsearch encounters a null value, it simply ignores it and does not include it in the index. This behavior is important to understand because it can impact how you query your data and the results you receive.

For instance, if you have a document with a null value for a field and you search for documents where that field is null, your search will not return the document. This is because Elasticsearch does not recognize null as a value that can be searched.

Strategies for handling null values

There are several strategies you can employ to handle null values in Elasticsearch. These strategies can help you ensure that your data is accurately represented and that your search queries return the expected results.

Using the “null_value” parameter

One way to handle null values is by using the “null_value” parameter in your mapping. This parameter allows you to replace null values with a value of your choosing when the document is indexed.

Here’s an example of how to use the “null_value” parameter:

  "mappings": {
    "properties": {
      "status": {
        "type": "keyword",
        "null_value": "NULL"

In this example, if the “status” field is null in a document, Elasticsearch will index it as “NULL”. This allows you to search for documents with a null “status” field by searching for “NULL”.

Using the “exists” query

Another strategy for handling null values is to use the ‘exists’ query, which returns documents where a specific field is present. While there used to be a ‘missing’ query that returned documents where a field was absent, this has been deprecated. Instead, you can use a combination of ‘bool’, ‘must_not’, and ‘exists’ queries to achieve the same result.

Here’s an example of how to use the “exists” query:

  "query": {
    "bool": {
      "must_not": {
        "exists": {
          "field": "status"

In this example, the query returns documents where the “status” field does not exist, which includes documents where the “status” field is null.

Best practices for handling null values

When handling null values in Elasticsearch, there are a few best practices to keep in mind:

– Always define your expectations for null values in your mapping. This can help prevent unexpected behavior when indexing and searching your data.
– Consider the implications of null values on your data analysis. Null values can skew your results, so it’s important to handle them appropriately.
– Test your queries to ensure they handle null values as expected. This can help you catch any issues before they impact your data analysis or search results.