If you’ve ever had to rifle through a physical filing system, then you know that the only way you can find what you’re looking for is by checking the labels.
To find and understand records in Airtable, you have to check the primary field. The primary field is always visible and can never be deleted or hidden in your base. It’s also supposed to be representative of each unique records–for this reason, it’s essential that your primary field be clear, to the point, and unique.
Field types you can use for the primary field
While the primary field type defaults to single line text, there are in fact a variety of field types you can choose from, like date, phone number, and even currency.
Here, the URL field type is used to list client websites.
It’s important to keep your primary fields as unique and informative as possible so that you (and other stakeholders) can quickly find the records you need. URLs, for instance, might not be the best field type if only some of your clients have live websites.
How to automate a primary field with formulas
What do you do when your primary field isn’t informative or identifiable enough?
Let’s say you have two clients in your base with the same first name, which can be confusing and create communication issues (no one wants to invoice the wrong client!)
You can create a formula that automatically pulls differentiating information from additional fields–to do this, change the primary field type to the formula field and plug in your desired formula.
Above, we configured a formula that displays the client’s company directly in the primary field, so you can quickly tell the difference between John Smith from Fullwark Insurance and John Smith from HugBots.
⚡ Pro tip: There are countless other formulas you can configure, so you can really populate the primary field however you want!
With a concise primary field, there’s no way you can mix up your clients.