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Using the Lookup Column Feature of SharePoint to Add Information From One List to Another in SharePoint 2010

A lookup column can be successfully used to automatically add information from one list to another in a SharePoint Server 2010 computing environment. We demonstrate the techniques required to populate a contact list with information retrieved from a customer list in a video tutorial titled Configuring Lookup Columns.

The first step is to click on “Lists” under “List Tools”. Click on the button to create a new column and set the radio button for “Lookup (information already on this site)”. As Asif Rehmani, SharePoint MVP and MCT notes, by using a lookup column, SharePoint administrators (the intended audience for this video) can centralize information in one list, which reduces the amount of effort required to manage the data. Once the information is centralized, Asif goes on to explain, a variety of lists may benefit from the use of separate lookup columns, all pointing back to one central list with all of the information.

A second important reason for using lookup columns to pull information from a central list is to enforce security by restricting the number users authorized to work with the centralized data. Once the information has been centralized, only a few people need access to the central list, itself. Any other users can successfully pull the data by availing of the lookup column option, but without any need to actually work, first hand, with the centralized information, itself.

We go on to assign a name to the lookup column for the contacts list in our example.

The next step is to specify the list on the site (the information must be stored on the same site where the lookup column will be used) from which to pull the data for the lookup column of information.

Asif specifies the “customer list”, and, further, the specific column of data from which the required information is to be pulled. He also specifies two other pieces of information, “Customer ID” and “zip code” which will be pulled along with the “Customer Name”.

When the columns are created, SharePoint 2010 produces 3 new columns: one each for “Customer Name” “Customer ID” and “zipcode”. The syntax of column naming, “Customer Name:Customer ID” depicts the relative importance of the specific pieces of information. In other words, the most important piece of information precedes the full colon, “Customer Name”. The other two pieces of information are subordinate and, therefore, appear to the right of the colon.

Once a new item is edited for the contact list in our example, and a “customer name” has been selected from the external customer list, the other two pieces of information are populated automatically into the row by the lookup column. We will continue this tutorial with tomorrow’s post to this blog.

Ira Michael Blonder

© Rehmani Consulting, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved