Airtable Guide


Airtable Guide

Setting Up Field Types

Choose your own building blocks.


What is a field?

A database field is the equivalent of a column in a spreadsheet. In Airtable they look similar to columns, except that each field is of a particular type. Possible types include a long text note, checkbox, email address, phone number, file attachment, and more.

By piecing together the exact fields you need, your Airtable Base will become perfectly adapted to your own needs. Rather than having to contort your workflow to fit into an off-the-shelf app (if one even exists for your use case), you’ll have a tool that’s custom-fit to you. And you can easily adapt your Base as your needs evolve over time – adding a field here, changing a field there.

To explain fields, let’s imagine we’re part of the NASA team sending a manned expedition to Mars.  For a successful mission to the Red Planet, we’ll need to track a variety of things — projects, supplies, vendors and people.  We’ll put each of those things in separate tables and then add fields to each table to structure the data.

Mission to Mars

Adding fields

When we’re shipping supplies to another planet, it’s critically important that we test them to ensure that they will work in Mars’ extreme conditions. Let’s add a checkbox in our Base to track which supplies have been tested.

To add a field, click the [+] on the far right side of a table. You can also right-click (Ctrl + click on a Mac) on the header row to insert a new field. After you’ve created a field, name it and specify a field type. Don’t worry about getting everything exactly right.  You can easily make changes in the future.

Basic field types

We currently offer 16 basic field types, some of which provide additional customization options for colors, formatting and default values.

You can create multiple fields of the same type in a table.  For example, we could add two attachment fields to our Mars base, storing photos in one and training manuals in another.

Airtable offers these basic field types:

Editing fields

Editing fields is as easy as creating them. Click the dropdown arrow in the header cell of a column to change its name or type. That menu also gives you options to add a description, copy it, or delete it.

Let’s say that NASA’s Office of Mission Safety decides that a single checkbox field for testing isn’t sufficient.  They want to track three separate tests for each space bound item: vacuum pressure, extreme temperature and functional assessments.   To do that, we’ll need to change the “Tested” field from a checkbox to a multiple option field.

Primary field

In Airtable, the first column of every table is called the “primary field.” This field is special because it is used as the name of the record. For that reason, it’s important to use unique names for each record. The primary field cannot be deleted, moved, or hidden.

By default, the primary field is “frozen,” so it is always visible as you scroll right and left. You can add or remove frozen fields by dragging the divider on the right side of the frozen fields.

Next: Working with Records