Applies to

  • Pro
  • Business
  • Enterprise


Who can use this capability

You must be the sheet Owner or have Admin sharing permissions to change a column name, including the primary column name.

Work With the Primary Column: Overview and Best Practices

Understanding and optimizing the mandatory primary column in your Smartsheet grid


  • Smartsheet
  • Pro
  • Business
  • Enterprise


You must be the sheet Owner or have Admin sharing permissions to change a column name, including the primary column name.

Every sheet has a primary column. This column is mandatory and cannot be deleted from a sheet. The value in this column is frequently the main descriptor for the row.

When you create a new item in Smartsheet, the primary column is set automatically—in Grid View, it will be the left-most column. When you create a new sheet by importing data from another program, you'll be asked to designate the primary column.

To rename the primary column, double-click the column name and type a new name.

Once the primary column is set, you can’t designate another column to be the primary. 

If you want to change the contents of the primary column, here's one thing you can do: insert a new column in your sheet, cut and paste the data in the cells from the exiting primary column to this newly inserted column, and then paste the preferred data into the empty primary column.

Primary column properties

With the exception of the column name, you cannot change the properties of the primary column. Here's a list of the properties:

  • The column name is in bold text (this is the only column name with this this property)
  • It's the column where you'll see expand and collapse buttons / when you create hierarchy in your sheet. For more information about creating hierarchy, see Hierarchy: Indenting and Outdenting Rows.
  • The column is always of the Text/Number column type
  • Text and numbers in the column are formatted as left-justified

Primary column name: best practices

When you name the primary column, use a descriptive name for it: Client Name, Task Name, Order Number, Part Number, and so on. 

The primary column is used to identify the row when you use features such as Send row or Request update; using a descriptive name will help keep things straight as you communicate about the row or request information from other Smartsheet users.

Primary column name in reports

Because reports can return data from multiple sheets, each having a different primary column name, information from the primary column is consolidated into a single column named Primary.

Hierarchy isn't displayed in reports.

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