Simplify site-wide SharePoint list and form revisions by utilizing lookup columns

You may have several forms or lists using dropdown menus across your site that you would have to update if, say, an individual resigned, or a department changed its name, or a building relocated. Manage this type of information (individuals, departments, buildings, etc. frequently used in lists and forms)  in separate lists that we’ll then use to create site-wide lookup columns to replace the many individual dropdowns across our sites that are repetitious. Basically, we’ll update the information in one place and know that it’s updated everywhere it’s needed across our site (or site collection if you’re familiar enough to go the extra mile with collection content types or Microsoft Flow, if your permissions aren’t at the site collection level).

  1. Go to “Add an App” from the settings wheel
  2. Choose “custom list,” name it and click “create”
  3. Add columns you want to reference throughout your site. These should be single line of text. People columns will not work with this method, unfortunately. Note that it may be better to have multiple lists with a single column rather than include unrelated info in columns across one list. You’ll be able to best determine that based on the volume of your need.
  4. Once your info/eventual drop-down items have been added to your list, we’re ready to create lookup columns so our forms and lists can use these “department,” “leader,” “building,” etc. sorts of fields as dropdown choices. Go to site settings –> site columns (under Web Designer Galleries).
  5. Click “create.”
    create icon
  6. Type the name of your new column (department, building, leader, etc.) and select “Lookup” from radio options.
  7. You may wish to create a new group for these “site-wide” resource columns. Then choose the list and column you’re wanting this new column to find.
  8. Repeat this column creation for the number of site-wide lookup columns you’re creating.
  9. Now go to the list or library where you’d like to add this drop-down column. Go to list settings.
  10. Under “columns” select “add from existing site columns”
  11. Find your newly created columns, Add, and then OK (Repeat for each column you’re adding).
  12. That’s all there is! Your newly added columns will, by default, be drop-down columns. You can use this same “add from existing site columns” all across your site, and when you change the “master” list, all of your lists and forms using this field will update instantly as well.
Good luck!

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