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 Single value from a list of pre-defined valid values.
Choice List Multiple values from a list of pre-defined valid values.
Reference A reference column to another table.
Reference List A list of references 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 links prettier and to include a clickable link icon.

Format text

When a Text column uses “HyperLink” formatting, values get formatted like so:

  • https://getgrist.com will show https://getgrist.com.
  • Grist Labs https://getgrist.com will show Grist Labs (linking to “https://getgrist.com” with “Grist Labs” as the text).
  • Email Help mailto:support@getgrist.com will show Email Help, a link which would open an email program to compose an email to support@getgrist.com.

In general, the value until the last space is used as the link text, while the last word is used as the link destination.

Link formatting is particularly useful when links are generated using a formula such as:
$Company + " " + $Website

Numeric columns#

This type is for numbers, including floating-point numbers. In addition to controlling alignment and color, you can choose the number format, and the minimum and maximum number of digits to show after the decimal point.

Format numeric

Choosing the “Spinner” option for CELL FORMAT will show arrows in each cell for increasing/decreasing the number.

The options under NUMBER FORMAT include:

  • $: Format for dollar amounts, with a “$” prefix, thousands separators, and defaulting to 2 digits after the decimal point.
  • ,: Turn on the display of thousands separators.
  • %: Show numbers as percentages. E.g. “0.5” would show as “50%”.
  • Exp: Show numbers in exponential (or scientific) notation. E.g. “1234” would be shown as “1.234E3”.
  • (-): Show negative numbers in parentheses, without a leading minus sign. This is commonly used in accounting, and usually combined with $ or , formats.

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 choice

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 by either clicking Edit or on the Choices box. To add a choice, type its value in the text field below the other choices and press Enter. To remove a choice, click the delete icon to the right of the choice or select the choice by clicking on it, and then press Backspace/Delete. To apply/save your changes, you can either click the Save button or press Enter. To discard your changes, you can either click the Cancel button or press Escape.

Clicking the color dropdown to the left of a choice will open a color picker for customizing the fill and text color of a choice. Changes to colors are reflected inside cells and throughout the rest of your document once you save your changes.

Choices can be re-arranged by clicking and dragging them, which determines the order in which they appear when typing into a cell.

The configuration editor supports many convenient keyboard shortcuts. You can press the Up Arrow and Down Arrow keys to navigate between selected choices; hold the Shift key to bulk select adjacent choices while clicking or using the arrow keys; and hold the Command/Control key to multi-select choices while clicking. To select all choices, you can press Command/Control + A.

Undo and redo are also supported in the configuration editor. While your cursor has focus on the editor text field, you can press Command/Control + Z to undo your last change, and Command/Control + Shift + Z to redo it.

The configuration editor also supports copy and paste. To copy, select the choices you want copied and press Command/Control + C. To paste, focus on the text field and press Command/Control + V. Choices are pasted in bulk if the clipboard contains multiple lines of text. Choices can also be copied from one column’s configuration editor and pasted into another, which will copy over both the values and their configured colors.

When typing into a Choice column cell, your configured choices will be shown in an autocomplete menu. You can either click on a choice, or use the arrow keys and Enter to add a choice to a cell. If your input is not one of the valid choices, Grist will display a menu option for conveniently adding it as a valid choice and into the cell in one step.

Format choice

Choice List columns#

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

Format choice

If you start off with a populated text column, Grist will take all unique values from that column as the valid choices.

Choice List columns are configured the same way Choice columns are, and support the same level of customization and keyboard shortcuts. They differ in the number of choices they allow to be entered in each cell. While Choice columns only allow at most one value in a cell, Choice List columns allow many.

Like with Choice columns, when typing into a Choice List column cell, the valid choices will be shown in an autocomplete menu. Once you’ve selected a value, you can continue adding choices to the same cell.

Format choice

Choices can be re-arranged inside their cells by clicking and dragging them while the cell is being edited. You can also use the arrow keys and the Delete key to navigate and delete choices, or simply click the delete icon when hovering your cursor over a choice.

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

Reference List columns#

Like Reference columns, but can store multiple references in a single cell. 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