How to Use the Primary Column

Every spreadsheet created in has a primary column. Even though it always exists, using this primary column is optional. If you are working in a single worksheet and keeping that worksheet in the sheet view, the primary column concept may not matter. However, if you are taking advantage of the kanban view, relating, or expanding rows, the primary column becomes vital.

Purpose of the Primary Column

Column A as Primary Column

Think of the values in this column as the labels for each row or as a way to refer to them if you were talking about them. 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 in Expanded View

If you expand a row, the value in the primary column is shown at the top of the window. This reinforces the concept of the primary value being the label for the row.

Changing the Primary Value

By default, the primary value is the first column in your sheet. However, the designation can be changed to different columns if needed. The location of the primary column should be driven by the location of the data that best describes each row.

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 a column of unique data and you don’t need to add one in order to use the primary column.

Set as Primary Column

To change the primary column, simply right-click on another column header and choose Set as primary column. However, there is a catch here. Only certain data types can be used in a primary column. 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 full list of allowed and disallowed data types on the primary column help page.

If you don’t have a column that’s a great fit for a primary column, but you still want to use one, consider adding a column with the Autonumber data type. This will produce unique, sequential numbers.

Primary Column in Kanban View

Much like the expanded view, the value in the primary column also acts like a label for each card when your spreadsheet is shown in a kanban view.

Labels in Kaban View

Seeing how these values are used helps to conceptualize the utility of a primary column as it shows how it is labeling each card in the view.

Primary Columns through Related Rows

When you are relating rows between different worksheets, the data that shows in the related row column is 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
Seeing Primary Column in Related Row Data Type

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