"as far as I'm aware, you can do it through DDS...you just can't do it
   through SEQUEL statements....I know it's possible when coding in RPG so I
   assuming you can do the same thing in COBOL."

   Actually, it works in SEQUEL as well.  In your "CREATE TABLE" statement
   just omit the "NOT NULL" clause and the field is null capable.  Fields are
   null capable by default.  

   Then in a SELECT statement, specify an indicator to tell you when the
   "COLUMN" is null.  e.g.:

      SELECT not_null_field, null_capable_field, field3
            INTO :not-null-field, :null-capable-field
   :null-capable-field-ind, field3
            FROM myfile

   Notice there is no comma between ':null-capable-field' and
   ':null-capable-field-ind'.  the INDICATOR field is a signed COMP-4 (binary
   right?) which will be negative whenever a null value exists in the
   retrieved field.
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