Learning SharePoint: Column Types

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New to SharePoint? Check out the Digital Design blog to learn about advanced column types in SharePoint. This article will help you utilize SharePoint columns more efficiently.

SharePoint can be quite a difficult and harsh environment. If used carelessly it can be very confusing, especially when data accumulates to massive amounts.

The column in SharePoint allows sorting and filtering information in a meaningful way. Column types also allow you to manipulate data in multiple ways to perform automatic calculations or give specifications about information in this column when someone adds or edits items in the library.

Depending on a column type in SharePoint, the data is stored and displayed in a different manner. While creating a column, users should choose the type which indicates the type of data that belongs to this particular column.

There are many types of columns but in this article we will discuss advanced column types in SharePoint.

Types of advanced columns

Choice

This type of column enables users to add multiple types of data in one column. It allows keeping consistency in your data. Users can customize columns with a variety of options.

  • Define the set of choices – you can assign a range of predetermined values, so users can only choose from them.
  • Choose a format for displaying – formatting display is not just for the appeal. It specifies the parameters in a drop-down menu. Essentially you set options between radio (single choice) or check (multiple choice) box. This way you can enforce all stored data to be of a specified value or you can allow for flexibility, depending on your objectives.
  • Enable additional custom choices – adding a unique choice which is not specified in the default settings is also an option. This way you allow users to enter the choice themselves. This option is great if there is no certainty regarding types of data that will be entered.
  • Default value display – this function automatically assigns type to the information that is written inside the column.

Date and time

It can be deduced from the name that this particular type of columns contains time-related information. It has configurations that allow displaying one of two settings: date only or both date and time. You can enable default value similarly to the previous type of column. So whenever a new item is written in the library, the date will appear automatically.

Calculated

To understand calculated columns we need to understand the nature of calculated values.

Calculated values act the role of calculators. By using simple equations you can access data that relates to the type numerically. For example, you can type [date today]-21 to quickly access the information logged 3 weeks ago. This is very similar to Excel but it’s worth mentioning before moving forward.

Calculated columns are configured in such a way that data presented in them is based only on the results from specified calculations. For example, the following formula will calculate the total price: = [number of items]*[price of a single item]. You are free to use all simple algebraic operations such as addition (+), subtraction (-), multiplication (*) and division (/). Calculated columns allow you to use more advanced mathematical operations too. In addition, you can perform text manipulation with the &’’ command.

For example, the following operation combines two texts into one: = [name of the supplier]&””&[name of the product].

Note that formulas in calculated columns can only reference items in the same library.

Lookup

Columns in SharePoint are configured so as to make it easier for users to access data. Lookup is just an option that gives additional space for organization of already stored information.

Similarly to choice columns, you can make some customizations.

  • Choose the source of the lookup values. This option allows you to choose which library or list values assigned to the column are from.
  • Allow multiple selections. You can choose either as many values as you wish or only a single value. In the first case all values will be separated by a semicolon.
  • Choose columns to display. This allows adding more columns to display field values for this particular type.

Want some more SharePoint how-to’s? Check out our previous articles! And keep an eye on our blog for more SharePoint tutorials.

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