How to Use the Primary Column

Every spreadsheet created in has a primary column. Even though it always exists, using this column is optional. For instance, if you are working on a single worksheet and keeping that worksheet in the sheet view, you may not need it. However, it can be vital if you take advantage of the kanban view, relating, or expanding rows.

To follow along in your own spreadsheet, make a copy of the 🔗template used in this tutorial.



Three columns of data with one of them being designated as the primary with a key icon
Key Icon

Think of the column’s values as row labels or as a way to refer to them when speaking. In the example above, you may be talking about the batch ending in 9979. You would not refer to that row as white or UIS-78 since those values are not specific enough to indicate only one row.

Row label being shown in the expanded view
Row Label in Expanded View

If you expand a row, shows the value in the primary column at the top of the window. Displaying it this way reinforces the concept of the primary value being the label for the row.

Video tutorial

Changing the Primary Value

By default, the primary value is the first column in your sheet. However, you can change the designation to different columns if needed. The location of the data that best describes each row should be the main driver of this decision.

The primary column typically makes the most sense if it contains unique values, but the values are not required to be unique. Not all spreadsheets have unique data, and you don’t need to add any in to make this work.

Using the drop down menu to modify the column atributes
Using the Right-Click Menu

To change the primary column, right-click on another header and change it from that menu. However, there is a catch here. Specifically, you can only use certain data types. The data types need to be those that allow for alpha-numeric values. Some types that won’t work are attachment, related row, and checkbox. See a complete list of allowed and disallowed data types on the primary column help page.

💡Consider adding a column with the Autonumber data type. This data type will produce unique, sequential numbers.

Labels in Kanban View

Much like the expanded view, the value in the primary column also acts as a label for each card in the kanban view.

Primary rows being shown as data labels
Labels in Kaban View

When you are relating rows between different worksheets, the data that shows in the related rows are the value of the other worksheet’s primary column. If a worksheet were to relate to the data shown above, the result would look like the example below.

Changing a column's data type to related row
Related Row Data Type

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