Introduction to Data Types

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Spreadsheet.com goes beyond text and numbers with support for over 25 rich data types that you can choose from at the cell, range, and column level. Data types determine what sort of data can be in a cell and allow you to go beyond the typical alphanumeric characters and formulas. For instance, add attachments inside cells, assign users who get notified when rows change, set a predetermined list of options for users to choose from, select from colored icons, or even relate data in one row to data from another workbook.

You can change data types at any time, including overriding column data types by cell or range-level data types—allowing you to put any data anywhere you want.

Setting data types opens up your workbook to be more than letters and numbers. For instance, turn your spreadsheet into a hiring tracker with resumes, candidate ratings, assigned recruiters, and more all in line. Or you can track storyboarding of your team's next commercial, monitoring the status of tasks, due dates, and images from design meetings. Or use a spreadsheet for bug tracking that new software you're developing, setting columns up to store error messages, assign owners, prioritize the severity, and more.

Topics in this Article

List of Data Types

There are over twenty-five data types you can choose from in Spreadsheet.com, five of which are System Data Types. Each data type is listed below with a brief description and link to an article with more details on that data type.

Featured

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    The User data type is for assigning users to rows. Quickly add existing users and invite new users. Optionally you can choose whether or not to notify added users. Read more
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    The Attachment data type is for attaching images, documents, and other files within cells. Attachments are displayed as clickable thumbnails. Attached files can be previewed and downloaded by users. Read more
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    The Select data type is for selecting a single value from a predefined set of options. Read more
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    The Multiselect data type is for selecting multiple values from a predefined set of options. Read more
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    The Icon set data type is for selecting from a predefined set of symbols, such as Red/Yellow/Green, Harvey Balls, and other types of indicators. Read more

Relational

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    The Related row data type is for linking to rows in another worksheet. Create relationships to rows in any workbook you have access to, even workbooks in different folders. The Related row data type lets you link rows like tables in a relational database. Read more
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    The Related row lookup data type is for looking up the value of a cell in a related row. You can configure which related worksheet column to lookup values from. Read more
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    The Related row rollup data type allows you to perform calculations across linked rows in other worksheets and return aggregate data. Instead of returning raw data from related rows, Related row rollups can return summaries, or aggregates, of the related data. Read more

Standard

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    The Automatic data type automatically converts entered data to the most appropriate data type. Similar to the default behavior of traditional spreadsheets, Automatic is the default data type for cells in Spreadsheet.com. Read more 
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    The Text data type is for adding a short amount of text. Read more 
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    The Number data type is for inputting numbers as integers or decimals with specific formatting defined by you. Read more
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    The Currency data type is for inputting currency values with a specific currency symbol and formatting defined by you. Read more
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    The Percent data type is for inputting percent values with specific formatting defined by you. Read more
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    The Checkbox data type is for toggling a true/false state (i.e., binary or boolean). Read more
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    The Date data type is for inputting date values in a specific format defined by you. Read more
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    The Date & time data type is for inputting date and time values in a specific format defined by you. Read more
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    The Duration data type is for representing a period of time in a specific format defined by you (e.g., the number of days elapsed between starting and ending dates). Read more
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    The Email data type is for email addresses. Clicking opens a new email in your default email client. Read more
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    The URL data type is for URLs that open in a separate browser tab when clicked. Read more
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    The Phone data type is for phone numbers, which you can format as links that open in your default voice calling application. Read more
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    The Rating data type is for assigning a ranking using a specific style (like stars, thumbs up, hearts, or more) and rating scale defined by you. Read more

Dynamic

Dynamic data types are column-only and restrict all data in that column to only this data type.

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    The Autonumber data type is for automatically assigning a non-editable incremental value to uniquely identify rows. Optionally, configure a prefix, suffix, fill format, and starting number. This data type can only be applied to columns, not individual cells or cell ranges. Read more
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    The Column formula data type is for showing the result of a formula expression that computes a value based on other cells in the same row. Unlike cell formulas, column formulas do not require an "=" prefix. Also, column formulas can only contain references to columns, not individual cells or ranges. This data type can only be applied to columns, not individual cells or cell ranges. Read more

System

System data types are column-only and restrict all data in that column to only this data type.

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    The Created at data type is for displaying a non-editable date and time value showing when the row was created. This data type can only be applied to columns, not individual cells or cell rangesRead more
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    The Created by data type is for displaying a non-editable user value showing who created the row. This data type can only be applied to columns, not individual cells or cell ranges. Read more
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    The Updated at data type is for displaying a non-editable date and time value showing when the row was most recently updated (i.e., when a cell in the row was most recently changed). This data type can only be applied to columns, not individual cells or cell ranges. Read more
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    The Updated by data type is for displaying a non-editable user value showing who the row was most recently updated by (i.e., who changed a cell in the row most recently). This data type can only be applied to columns, not individual cells or cell ranges. Read more

 

How to Set the Data Type for a Column, Cell, or Range of Cells

In Spreadsheet.com, you can set data types at three levels: for Columns, a Cell, or a Range of Cells.

To set the data type for a cell or range of cells, select the desired cell or cells, right-click, and select Edit data type...

To set a column's data type, select the column you'd like to change, and either right-click on that column or click on the column options dropdown. From there, select Edit data type... An Update column dialog box will appear. You can also double click on the column header, or select Data type from the Format menu mceclip7.png.

The animation below demonstrates all four ways to navigate to the Update column dialog box.

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From this dialog box, you can set the Column name, and select the Data Type from the dropdown of types.

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Each data type comes with corresponding settings. The information tooltip also helps to explain each data type.

Once complete, press the Enter key or click Update to change the column data type.

The Default Data Type—Automatic

New cells and columns default to the Automatic data type, unless the Automatic data type has detected and set a different date type for that cell. For instance, in the example below, entering data that looks like a date causes the Automatic data type to change that cell's data type to the Date data type, even though the column itself is still set to Automatic.

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See the article on Automatic data types for more information

Data Types in the Primary Column

The primary column is restricted to alphanumeric data types, a subset of all data types, as shown below.

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How to Change Data Types or Convert Existing Data to a New Data Type

When changing a cell or column's data type, Spreadsheet.com converts existing data to the new data type. In all cases, Spreadsheet.com tries to retain your data. For instance, switching from a number data type to a text data type keeps the digits in the cell, but changes to text formatting (bottom and left alignment).

However, many of the conversions from one data type have no obvious corollary in a new data type. For instance, if you convert from a date to an attachment. So, in some cases, Spreadsheet.com empties the cell. 

You can always revert by selecting undo in the toolbar mceclip0.png or with the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Z (CMD + Z for Mac users).

For more information on how to convert, and what happens during conversion, please see our article on Converting Between Data Types.

Data Validation with Strict Columns and Cells

In Spreadsheet.com, all data types (other than Automatic) include the option to restrict cells or columns only to the specified data type. This setting is represented by the Strict option mceclip1.png in the dialog box to edit a cell or column's data type.

Strict can be used to restrict or validate the type of data into a cell. For instance, if you use Spreadsheet.com for bug tracking, you might wish to restrict a column for Due Date to only be the Date data type. That way, no one can input vague entries like "five days from now." 

@Mentions

All data types also support @mentions, the ability to refer to users in a cell alongside other data.

Each data type has custom settings for that data type. Check out each data type's relevant article to find out more.