Here’s how they work.
One of the most in-demand features from the Notion community has been the ability to create simple tables. No related databases, no formula capabilities, just a grid of cells to quickly add, edit, and organize information in a spreadsheet format.
The wait is officially over.
Don’t get me wrong; Notion’s databases set it apart from almost every other work app, especially with the ability to add virtually anything as a property within a database. However, there are plenty of use cases when you don’t need that level of complexity, and just want to create a table quickly and easily.
How Simple Tables Work
Creating a Simple Table
/table will now give you the option to create a simple table. Adding rows and columns is as easy as clicking the
+ icon that appears when you hover over the far right or bottom of the table.
Notion’s minimalist aesthetic carries over into simple tables. When you apply a header row or column…well, that’s a nice looking table.
Although simple table functionality is limited (especially coming from using databases extensively), it covers most use-cases of making quick and easy tables. We’ll get into some other limitations below.
Dragging Rows and Columns
You can quickly highlight a row or column to change its positioning, which can be particularly useful if you end up converting a table into a database. For example, if you’ve created a table and the 4th column has what you’d like to use for page names, you can drag it into the first position, convert into a database, and now you have the correct page titles for each row item.
Auto Fit to Page
It’s these little details that make me love Notion. Clicking
Fit table to page width will automatically resize column widths to fit the page. Using the full width view? Your table will expand to the width of your page.
Other Neat Features
Moving Between Tables and Databases
In some cases, you might create a simple table to quickly add information, but what happens if you need to turn the table into a database?
Luckily, Notion makes this transition seamless, allowing you to quickly convert a table into a database, and vice versa. Simply clicking on the option
Turn into database and your simple table will turn into a database. In this scenario, the first column data will become the property name, and you do lose any rich text formatting from the simple table.
What You Can’t Do (Yet)
Currently, you can only add text to cells. The forward slack shortcut is not available here, nor can you add common Notion staples like checkboxes or lists. Similarly, you can only add text to cells, though you do have the ability to format font, ie. color, bold, links, etc. Based on the popularity of simple tables so far, look for cell functionality to expand in the near future.
In contrast to databases, formulas are nonexistent in simple tables. You’re not able to calculate things like sums or differences from values in a row or column, and
Highlighting Multiple Cells
A common feature in most spreadsheet tools, dragging the cursor to highlight multiple cells won’t work in a simple table (in contrast to databases). A workaround for this could be converting the table into a database, then selecting cells you need, before converting back to a simple table.
The Future of Tables
Notion will undoubtedly continue to expand on user capabilities when it comes to simple tables. Look for more customization features and expanded options for cell content over the next several months.
In the meantime, enjoy this lovely, simple new feature!