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SHould I use a lookup for my column or choice?

Posted on 2008-04-08
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2011-04-14

I'm going to create a column to be used in a new project workspace template for issues (and one for risks too). I want to have a column to select the business unit and I think it would work to have a sharepoint list of the business units, which could include a description field and be used for other stuff too.

My questions:

Should I do this and use it as a lookup column? It seems like the benefit would be that I could allow admins to modify the table and if the business structure changes, all they would have to do is change the lookup table.

Can it be used on subsites, or it is constrained to the site where it is created? (Don't really see this as being a problem, but just asking).

Are there any downsides to doing this? It seems pretty intuitive.

If there is a URL of someone out there with an answer to this or a comparison I will accept that as a solution (as long as it fully answers the question and clearly).

Thanks in advance!!!


Question by:mobrien118

Accepted Solution

moss_guru earned 2000 total points
ID: 21323870
A site column is restricted to the site only, not the site collection.  The two best ways to do this are

1) Create a list and make the column do a lookup.  This is best especially if you will have frequent changes to the list. The only major downside is that there is now one more list on your site.

2) create a multiple choice column and populated it with the correct options.  This is better for a list that will not be changed often, as it is self-contained, and doesn't require another list "cluttering up" the site.  I believe there is also a minor performance gain, as the column definition contains the possible values and an additional query to another list is not required.  I don't think that would normally be noticeable, however, unless you had a lot of choices in the list.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 31447229
Thanks for the input. Good answer.

Expert Comment

ID: 22744180
There is more to this than the two best ways to create the site column.  Potential gotchas are:  a lookup cannot be used as a formula in a calculated field.  A lookup cannot be accessed in "edit in datasheet" mode.  I'm sure there are more; this thread would be a great place to keep track of them as community members find them.

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