Column Types: Single or multiple lines of text

Office 365 / SharePoint Blog

Text fields are the most commonly used fields in SharePoint. Within our sites, every list or library comes at least with one single text field, often Title, or Name. Within this blog, the title of the blog item is a single line text field and the body is a multiple lines text field. The following information was excerpted from this Microsoft article about column types.

Single line of text

Use this column field type to collect and display small amounts of unformatted text in a single line, including:

  • Text only, such as first names, last names, or department names
  • Combinations of text and numbers, such as street addresses or account numbers
  • Numbers that are not used in calculations, such as employee ID numbers, phone numbers, postal codes, or part numbers

A single line of text column displays 255 characters in a single line. If you want the column to display formatted text or more than one line of text at a time, create a Multiple lines of text column. You can change an existing Single line of text column to a Multiple lines of text column without losing any data that is stored in the column already.

You can customize a Single line of text column in these ways:

  • Assign a character limit Limit the number of characters by specifying the maximum number of characters that you want. For example, if the column stores five-digit employee ID numbers, you can use this feature to help ensure that people enter only five characters.
  • Display a default value Automatically display specific text when someone adds a new item, while also allowing people to enter different text if they need to do so. A default value helps people enter information faster. For example, if the column stores the name of a company assigned to a project and your organization works with a specific company for most projects, you can enter the name of that company as the default value. As a result, the company name appears automatically when a new project is added to the list, and team members do not have to enter the name.

A default value can be either text that you specify or the result of a calculation, which is called a calculated value. Calculated values are helpful when you want to display specific text automatically but the text might vary depending on who added the item, when the item was added, or other reasons. To use a calculated value, you enter a formula, instead of specific text, as the default value. The formula can calculate a value based on information in other columns or system functions such as [today], to indicate the current date, or [me], to display the name of the person who adds or changes the item

Multiple lines of text

Use this column field type to collect and display formatted text or lengthy text and numbers on more than one line, such as a description of or comments about an item. A Multiple lines of text column can store as many as 63,999 characters, and you can specify the number of lines of text that you want to display when people enter information about an item. This type of column displays all of the text when the column is viewed in a list or library. You can customize a Multiple lines of text column in these ways:

  • Assign a display limit Limit the number of lines of that appear when people enter information about an item. For example, if the column stores lengthy notes about a calendar event, you might choose to display ten lines of text. This makes it easier for people to enter information because they can easily see all of the text that they have entered. Conversely, if the column stores only a sentence or two about an event, you might choose to display only two or three lines of text. If you assign a display limit, it does not limit the amount of text that appears when the column appears in a list or library. All of the text entered for an item appears in the column.
  • Enable or disable text formatting Specify whether people can apply formatting such as bold, italics, or colors to text. There are three options: plain text, which does not support any formatting options; rich text, which supports basic formatting such as bold, italics, bulleted or numbered lists, colored text, and background colors; or enhanced rich text, which supports the same formatting options as rich text and additional options for hyperlinks, pictures, and tables.
  • Append changes If versioning has been enabled for the list or library, specify whether people can add new text about an item without replacing any existing text about that item. If you choose to not append changes, new text about an item replaces any existing text about that item in the column. If you choose to append changes, people can enter additional information about an item, while also viewing text that was previously entered and the date and time that the text was entered. When viewed in a list or library, not as a field in an item form, the column displays the hyperlink View Entries, instead of the text, and people can click the hyperlink to see all of the information stored in the column for that item.

IMPORTANT: If you turn off this option after you create the column, all information except the most recent entry is deleted.

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