Use the Best Column Type for Your Data

Column types help you get better control over what data is allowed in columns—use specific types to ensure more consistent data entry.

In Smartsheet, you can choose from the following column types:

Default Columns:

You can also add a column description to provide more information about your column.

Required Permissions

You must be the sheet Owner or a licensed collaborator with Admin-level sharing permissions to the sheet to add or edit a column.

Not sure whether you have a license? See Identify Your Smartsheet Plan and User Type.


Edit Column Types

You can change an existing column type using the Column Properties form. To do this, click the dropdown arrow  under the column header and select Edit Column Properties. (You can also specify the column type when inserting a new column.)

Edit Column Properties, Restrict to dates only selected

NOTES:

  • Even when a column property is set, it's possible to type text freely into a cell (one exception is read-only System columns).
  • If you’re the sheet Owner or are shared to the sheet with Admin-level permissions, you can prevent others from adding free text by checking the Restrict to checkbox when you edit column properties or create a new column. For more information, see Control Data Entry and Allow Only Specific Values in a Column.
  • The primary column type can't be changed.
  • If a column is enabled in the project settings of a sheet, its type will be displayed as Date/Time, Duration, or Predecessors and the column type won't be editable.

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Include a Column Description

Explain important information about a column in a custom tooltip; people can access the information by hovering over an information icon below the column header. Use a column description, for example, to document how you want a particular column to be used and what type of data you expect the column to contain.

Viewing Column Description

NOTES:

  • You must be the sheet Owner or shared with Admin-level permissions to add or edit a column description.
  • The column description has a limit of up to 250 characters (this limit may vary depending on the language or character type you use).
  • Column descriptions are visible only in sheets—they cannot be viewed in reports or dashboards.

To create a column description:

  1. Right-click a column header and select Add Column Description.

    The Column Description form appears.
    Add Column Description 
  2. Type your column description in the form and click the OK buttonto set the description.

An Information icon appears below the column header.

That's it! Now anyone shared to the sheet can view the column description by hovering over the information icon.

To edit column description information: 

  1. Right-click the column header and select Edit Column Description.
  2. In the Column Description form that appears, make your desired changes and click the OK button.

Column Type Reference

Text/Number

This column type can include text, numeric values, or any combination of the two. Text/number is the best choice for comment columns that might have long entries or number-focused columns, such as the projected expense for a sheet tracking a budget.

You can apply formatting to a text/number column to display values in currency or percentage format by clicking the column header and then clicking the Currency Format or Percentage Format button in the toolbar.

NOTE: If the first character of a number is zero followed by another digit or by a letter, Smartsheet will prepend the value with an apostrophe and store it as text. It does this so that the leading zero will be retained and displayed with the number. If you want the number to be stored as a number—so that you can perform calculations with it, for example—you'll need to double-click the cell and remove the apostrophe and any leading zeros.

Contact List

This is the best choice for columns such as Assigned To, Owner, Approved By, and so on. This column type enables you to assign rows to collaborators shared to a sheet or to contacts from your Smartsheet Contact List. You can also use the column to send Reminders to shared collaborators and generate reports that show a list of tasks assigned to a specific team member.

When you use this column type, you have the option to specify preferred contact values in the Values box (you can specify up to 50 contacts here). Acceptable values for this list are a contact name and email address, a name only, or an email address only.

Contact List Properties

If you’ve set up preferred contacts in the contact column, you’ll be able to quickly access them by clicking the dropdown arrow  in a Contact list cell or corresponding Smartsheet form field—In the cell, you’ll also see contacts and email addresses that have been assigned to other rows on the sheet. 

NOTE: A Smartsheet Form field associated with a contact column will only include preferred contacts. If no preferred contacts have been set, anyone submitting through the form must type the contact’s name or email address rather than selecting from a list. 

You can add to the list by manually typing a new name or email address into a cell. As you type, the list will expand to display a relevant list of matching contacts from your Smartsheet Contacts List, as well as from the User Management screen (available with multi-user plans).

TIP: If you start typing a name or address and aren't seeing the list auto-resolve, this means you don't have any contacts matching what you've typed. Add the contact to your list to make sure that you can run reports and send reminders to them. Click the dropdown arrow  in the cell then select Add New to add the contact to your list and assign it to the row.

To remove names or email addresses from the auto-resolve dropdown list, remove them from the other cells in the column and from the Edit Column Properties form. People who are shared to the sheet will always appear as suggestions when you type in a Contact List column.

Date

The cells in this column will display a calendar icon that collaborators can click to choose a specific date. You can also manually type in dates or use keyboard shortcuts to populate the cells. Date columns must exist in the sheet to enable dependencies or to display items in the Calendar view.

The dates will appear in the format set up in the Personal Settings of your Smartsheet account.

Dropdown List

This column displays a list of values from which you can choose.

When you select this column type, you'll have the option to type the values that you want to appear in the list. Separate each list item onto a separate line by pressing [Enter] or [Return] on your keyboard.

To remove an item from the Dropdown List, select it and then press [Backspace] or [Delete] on your keyboard.

Checkbox

The column presents a checkbox that can be checked or unchecked. A checkbox will appear in the cell only if a value has been entered into another column in that row.

Symbols

A Symbols column will display a visual image. Use a Symbols column to describe the status of a row.

After selecting this column type, you'll be able to select from a variety of symbol categories in the right panel, including: Flag, Priority, Decision, Status, Direction, and Measurement.

You cannot add your own (custom) symbols to the column.

NOTE: You can't add a star or flag to a row unless at least one other cell in the row contains data.

Available Symbols

Flag

  • Flag   
  • Star  

Priority

  • High, Low   
  • High, Medium, Low   

Decision

  • Yes, Hold, No   
  • Yes, Hold, No   
  • Stop, Rewind, Play, Fast Forward, Pause   

Status

  • Red, Yellow, Green   
  • Red, Yellow, Green, Blue   
  • Red, Yellow, Green, Gray   
  • Sunny, Partly Sunny, Cloudy, Rainy, Stormy   
  • Empty, Quarter, Half, Three Quarter, Full   
  • Empty, Quarter, Half, Three Quarter, Full   
  • Down, Sideways, Up   
  • Down, Angle Down, Angle Up, Up   
  • Down, Angle Down, Sideways, Angle Up, Up 

Direction

  • Up, Unchanged, Down   
  • Down, Right, Up, Left  

Measure

  • Easy, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert Only   
  • Empty, Quarter, Half, Three Quarter, Full   
  • Empty, One, Two, Three, Four, Five   
  • Empty, One, Two, Three, Four, Five   
  • Empty, Quarter, Half, Three Quarter, Full   
  • Empty, One, Two, Three, Four, Five   
  • Empty, One, Two, Three, Four, Five   
  • No Pain, Mild, Moderate, Severe, Very Severe, Extreme
    Measure Symbols

   Check out our Support Tips in the Smartsheet Blog:How to Automate RYG Balls, Using Column Symbols

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Auto-Number/System

This type of column will automatically generate values for every row in the sheet that contains data. Auto-numbering can be useful when you want to assign row IDs, part numbers, invoice numbers, or customer numbers without manually typing them in. System columns can show you who created each row, who last modified each row, the time each row was created, and the last time each row was modified. 

When you set them up, System column cells are initially empty: the values will be generated as soon as you click Save to save the sheet.

For more information, see Auto-Numbering Rows and System Columns.

System Column Types

The following table lists the different system column types and what they can be used for.

    TypeWhat It Does
    Auto-NumberAssigns an automatically incremented alpha-numeric value to each row in the sheet. 
    Modified (Date)Lists the date and timestamp of the last data change made to the row. Changes made to the discussions, attachments, or formatting (font color, background color, etc) are not logged in the column.
    Modified ByLists the email address of the collaborator who last made a data change to the row. Changes made to the discussions, attachments, or formatting are not logged in the column.
    Created (Date)Lists the date and timestamp of the row's creation.
    Created ByLists the email address of the collaborator who created the row.

    NOTES:

    • Each system column can only be used once per sheet.
    • The values in these columns are display-only and can't be manually changed; however, you can apply formatting to the column to alter the appearance.
    • Changing an existing column type to a Modified Date/By or Created Date/By system column will overwrite existing cell data. Changing a column type to Auto-Number will preserve existing cell data so you can use it in your auto-numbering pattern if desired.

    Default Columns

    Every sheet includes three default columns to the left of the other columns. These three columns display icons to alert you to certain row-specific content or activities.

    Every sheet includes three default columns to the left of the other columns. These three columns display icons to alert you to certain row-specific content or activities.The three columns are (from left to right):

    • The Attachments column The Attachments icon will appear on each row with an attachment. Click the icon to review the attachments.
    • The Comments column . The Comments icon will appear on each row containing comments. Click the icon to review the comments.
    • The Row Action Indicators column . This column will display an icon for Pending Reminders , Update Requests , Locks , and Allocation Alerts associated with the row.

      NOTE: If multiple row actions exist for the row, the column will display multiple icons.

    To add Attachments, Comments, and Row Actions to a row:

    • Click in the default columns
      -or-
    • Click the drop-down arrow next to the row number

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