How to Link Records in Airtable

As one of the most powerful productivity and planning apps on the market, Airtable comes with a wide variety of brilliant features. But one of the best things about Airtable is the linking capability.

In this article, you’ll learn how the linking capability of Airtable helps them beat the competition. You’ll also learn about linked records, and you’ll learn how to link them.

Records

First, a disclaimer. There’s an essential element of Airtable that is referred to as “record.” This may be confusing for first-time users and beginners. Fortunately, records aren’t complicated. In fact, you probably already know what a record is. A record represents a field in the first column of each Airtable table. Every other field is referred to as a “cell.”

What Are Linked Records?

A “linked record” is another name for a linked relationship between two objects, people, or ideas on Airtable.

This is where Airtable stands out from traditional spreadsheets. The ability to link items on Airtable is what makes the platform so fluid and easy to learn how to use. In fact, if you aren’t using the linked records feature in Airtable, you might be missing out on a lot using a regular spreadsheet app.

Here’s an example that might explain the benefits. If you have a linked record field named “Creators” inside a table called “Projects,” this doesn’t just explain that the project was created by a particular creator. It also means that the creator made a linked project.

Linked records are reciprocal. Create a linked record in one table, and a new linked field will appear in the linked table.

There is a lot of fun to be had with linked records in this brilliant app. Not only that, but you can use the link function to do a variety of exciting and useful things. As explained earlier, the linked records are what sets Airtable apart from the competition.

Ideally, you’ll want to link a new linked table to a field that already exists to set up linked records. However, you can also link two existing tables.

How to Link 2 Records in Airtable from a PC

Using Airtable on a PC is definitely the best way to get the most out of the program. Here are two methods to create linked records in Airtable on PC.

Method 1

This method is the recommended one. It will help you avoid any unnecessary complications.

  1. Go to the base where you want to link the tables.
  2. Navigate to the top of the header of the field that you want to link then click the downward-pointing arrow to the right of the header then select Customize field type.
  3. Select the Link to another record option.
  4. Select Create a new table then click Save.
  5. A field will show where the name for the new table can be created.
  6. A new table will appear, with the name of the field you’ve just customized in the previous one.

The newly-created table will have two fields: a primary field, containing the names of linked records that you create, and a linked record field, linking back to the field from which you’ve created the new linked table. The field and the table are going to work reciprocally.

Method 2

The second method is based on linking two existing tables. It is used when you can’t avoid linking two tables that already exist.

  1. Start by creating a new table. Click the plus sign next to the last heading tab that you have in the base and select Create an empty table. The goal is to create a table that has a primary field that matches the values of another table’s non-primary field.
  2. Go back to the original table that you want to link then click Customize field type.
  3. Choose Link to another record.
  4. Select the original table then click Save.
  5. Confirm.

How to Link 2 Records in Airtable from an iPhone or Android

Don’t worry, we know that the record linking setup looks complicated enough on PC. However, you’ll be happy to know that the developers of Airtable have done everything to make the mobile experience as seamless as possible. So, whether you’re using an iOS or Android Airtable app, you’ll be able to do the exact same things as instructed above.

Some entries are going to have slightly different titles (for instance, it’s called a Customize field type on the desktop browser, but Customize field on iOS). But things work the same on mobile/tablet Airtable apps as they do on the PC.

Things to Consider with Airtable

Although linked records truly make Airtable special, they aren’t the only thing that sets the platform apart from its peers. Here are a few interesting facts and thoughts about Airtable.

Bases Are Separate

There is no way to link between multiple bases on Airtable. Each base is separate and singular. Think of bases as different projects. They can function under the umbrella of sharing different bases with the same people. In other words, instead of having a large unique super-base, Airtable simplifies this.

Now, this may sound like a bad idea, but having separate bases is actually a great thing. For instance, you might want to share a base with your clients. And you may want to keep the other one strictly hiring-related. Airtable gives you a non-negotiable option to do this, and it actually works to the user’s favor. You don’t have to needlessly further complicate things.

Of course, if you just give access to bases to people who need it, you basically have an “umbrella” of collective bases.

Use Templates

It’s possible you’ve been taught that templates are for the less adept spreadsheet user. And for a while, templates were best used by the beginners, but just across various apps. This is because the more experience you have with a tool, the more freedom you have to create templates of your own.

However, Airtable templates are simply brilliant and user-friendly. There are templates for content calendars, marketing campaign tracking, project tracking, product launches, and various research templates. Not only can these templates help you do things quicker and they can also make you more productive. Plus, they help you to become a true Airtable power-user.

Importing Spreadsheets

Imagine wanting to switch to Airtable and not being able to import spreadsheets. For many, this would act as an instant deal-breaker. Fortunately, Airtable allows you to import spreadsheets from Excel or Google Sheets. You can also import the spreadsheets from various other platforms, but you will generally have to convert those spreadsheets to Excel files and then import them to Airtable.

The import function on Airtable works like a charm. It won’t make a mess of your spreadsheets, and it will do all the sorting and numbering perfectly. From there, you can move on to customizing your old spreadsheet using the wide variety of functions available on Airtable.

Build Apps

A couple of years back, Airtable launched a new feature called Blocks. This feature lets users create custom apps without any coding experience. Using the data that you’ve already used in your tables, you can, for example, block text people in certain situations. You can also have a block that creates a countdown clock, which is perfect for those tight deadlines.

Of course, the versatility of the Blocks feature is still nowhere near the level of building an app as a coder. Still, the feature offers a wealth of customization to the table. It’s definitely not something a lot of competitors can offer.

Additional FAQ

1. How do you hyperlink in Airtable?

It’s simple to do and it’s not that different from hyperlinking in Google Docs, for example. Just highlight a piece of rich text and select Link (located in the hover UI). Then paste the link and confirm.

2. Can Airtable do calculations?

Everyone who has ever worked in MS Excel and Google Sheets knows how vital formulas are for tables because tables aren’t there just for jotting down information. As a table app, Airtable can perform calculations. Just put a formula in any cell. Then make it reference another cell in the sheet. The formulas, however, will be applied to the entire field, as Airtable is a relational type of database.

3. Can Airtable work offline?

Unfortunately, Airtable currently doesn’t have offline capabilities. This means that you won’t be able to access the Airtable website if you’re offline. However, export options do exist, which allow you to download the data and access it offline. When exported, Airtable content is saved as a CSV file. Bear in mind that the exported version will not include app content, base/field description, or comments.

Airtable, Record Linking, and Other Cool Stuff About It

Although record linking may appear a bit intimidating at first, once you figure it out, not only will you be able to seamlessly link records, but you’ll also get introduced to the entire app in more depth. Give the other features a try and don’t be afraid to experiment with the app. It’s fun, convenient, and easy to use.

Have you managed to link records in Airtable successfully? Which method did you go with? What’s your favorite Airtable feature? Feel free to hit the comments below and let us know.

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