How to use modern lookup columns in Microsoft Lists

Lookup columns allows you to enforce a relationship between different sources of data in your data system. This feature is a simplistic version of the classic relationship between tables in a data base.

Up until recently this type of data was only available through the classic interface of SharePoint but now it’s made a debut in the modern interface of Microsoft Lists and can be used without jumping between 2 different environments.

Lookup columns

Lookup column example

You have a list where you store the information of all your suppliers and now you are building a list to keep track of your assets, each item in the assets list should display the name and the phone number of the supplier and you can only select suppliers previously added to suppliers list.

To create a lookup column, you must have 2 different lists, one where you will create the actual column and another one that will be feeding the information displayed in the main list. With these requirements fulfilled to create a lookup column you should:

  1. Open the main list where you are storing the information and click in the Add column option
  2. From the menu click on Lookup
    Lookup columns
  3. Provide a Name for the new column and optionally a Description
  4. Select a list as a source
  5. Select a column from the selected list
    Lookup columns
  6. Click in the More options, and select any other column you may want to see also in the list
  7. Select the remaining options according to your needs and click Save
    Lookup columns

As you can see highlighted in the following picture, we have the supplier column and the supplier phone number, any extra column connected to the source list will be displayed in the following format ColumnNameMainList: ColumnNameSourceList.

Lookup columns

In the new item form or in the item detail, a lookup column will be displayed as a drop-down in the list form and will always be updated with the values you have in the source list, in the example shown in this article if the phone number of the supplier gets updated in the source list it propagates to all list items where this lookup is connected.

Lookup columns

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I've been working with Microsoft Technologies over the last ten years, mainly focused on creating collaboration and productivity solutions that drive the adoption of Microsoft Modern Workplace.