Columns and data types#

Adding and removing columns#

Every Grist table, when first created, has three columns called A, B, and C. To rename a column, hover on the column header, click on the drop-down, then select “Rename column” (you can also just click on the column header twice).

Column rename

To delete a column, hover on the column header, click on the drop-down, then select “Delete column”.

Delete column

To add a column, click on the “+” symbol in the header row, then type in the column name.

Add column

To reorder a column, first select the column if it isn’t already selected, by clicking on the column header. Next, click and hold on the column header. After a second or two, you’ll be able to drag the entire column to its new location.

Another way to reorder columns is via the widget options:

Widget options

In the visible columns section, the columns can be dragged around freely to reorder them. You can also hide columns here.

Visible columns

Renaming columns#

You can rename columns in several ways. One way is to click on the column header when the column is already selected. Another is to hover on the column header, click on the drop-down, then select “Rename Column”. Another is by selecting “Column Options” in the same drop-down, and editing the “Field” name shown at the top. A bonus with this method is that you can also control the identifier given to the column in formulas. By default this is based on the field name, with any characters Python doesn’t like replaced with “_“, and a number added if needed to keep the name unique within your table. If you don’t like this identifier, you can change it, though it will still need to be Python-friendly. To change the name, deselect “Use Name as ID” if it is selected, and edit the “ID” entry now shown.

Specifying a type#

Grist columns have types, similar to other spreadsheets or databases. The type of a column controls its appearance and the help Grist will offer you when editing cells.

When you create a new column, it initially has the Any type. When you enter the column’s first cell, Grist tries to narrow this type. If you enter a number, the column will be changed to Numeric type, which is right-aligned by default. If you enter something that doesn’t look like a number, the column will be changed to Text type, which is left-aligned by default.

To inspect the type of a column, hover over the column header, then click on the drop-down, then select “Column Options”. The “Column Type” section is what you are looking for.

Sidebar > Column options > Type

You will often want to control the column type manually. You can change it in the “Column Type” section. For example, here we set a column full of “yes” and “no” responses to be of type Toggle:

Sidebar > Column options > Toggle

One advantage of doing so is that Grist can now offer you ways to visualize the column that are specialized to on/off style values. Each column type has different options in the “Cell Format” section of the side panel:

Sidebar > Column options > Toggle appearance

Regardless of the column type, you can enter any value in cells. If a value entered is incompatible with the defined type, the cell will be highlighted with an error (and columns referencing the invalid value will also display an error):

Toggle out-of-vocabulary

Supported types#

Grist supports the following types:

Type Description
Text (Default) Any string of text.
Numeric Floating point numbers.
Integer Integers (whole numbers).
Toggle Boolean (True / False)
Date Valid date (without a time component).
DateTime Valid date + time.
Choice List of pre-defined valid values.
Reference A reference column to another table.
Attachment Cells where you can place files or images.

Text columns#

You can put any text you like in this type of column. For formatting, you can control alignment and word-wrap, text color and background color. If the column is used for storing web links, you can turn on “HyperLink” formatting to make that prettier.

Format text

Numeric columns#

This type is for floating point numbers, and can also be used with whole numbers. As for text, you can control alignment and color. You can also choose whether to show arrows for increasing/decreasing the number (this is the “Spinner” option). And you can set a minimum and maximum number of decimal points to show.

Format numeric

Integer columns#

This is strictly for whole numbers. It has the same options as the numeric type.

Toggle columns#

This type is for storing true/false values. The values can be shown as text, checkboxes, or switches.

Format toggle

See also example in Specifying a type.

Date columns#

This type is for storing calendar dates (without a time of day component). More details in Working with dates. You can choose the format for dates, see the date formatting reference.

Format date

DateTime columns#

This type is for storing calendar dates plus time of day. More details in Working with dates. You can choose the format for dates, see the date and time formatting reference. You can also specify the timezone to display for.

Format date

Choice columns#

This type is for storing one of a set of valid values, where you get to specify the available values.

Format date

There’s an example of using this type of column in the Lightweight CRM example.

If you start off with a populated text column, Grist will take all unique values from that column as the valid choices. You can add or remove choices as you wish.

Reference columns#

This sets up a cross-reference to another table. You can specify the table to reference, and a column within that table to show. There’s a lot you can do with this kind of column, see Reference columns for details.

Format reference

Attachment columns#

This column type lets you insert entire files and images in cells. When images are added in cells, a preview thumbnail is shown in the cell. The “Size” bar gives control of the scale of this thumbnail.

Format attachment

When you create an attachment column, cells of that column will have a paperclip icon:

Attachment paperclip

When you click on a paperclip icon, you can select a file to attach. If it is an image, you’ll see a thumbnail of it in the cell.

Image attachment

If you hover over the image, you’ll see a paperclip icon again, which you can use to add more files to the same cell. You’ll also see an “open-eye” icon, which when clicked brings up a larger view of all of the cell’s attachments, and gives you a way to rename them, download them, or remove them.

Image browser