Notion Foundations: Using Notion Databases

In the previous lesson, we introduced the concept of Notion databases. We covered the basics of adding databases, editing database pages, and customizing database properties. 

In this lesson, we will build on that by introducing database views, filtering, and sorting pages. Notion databases are more than just a table!

Sounds good? Then let’s dive in.

Sorting Databases

Like Excel, you can sort your database by any property. You can do this in ascending or descending order.

  • To sort your database, click on the Sort button at the top right of your database
Sort database
  • Select which property you would like to sort. In this case, we’re selected sort by Status
Sort by property
  • Select if you’d like the sort to show Ascending or Descending order
Sort by Status

As you can see from the example above, you can also add additional sort criteria. Notion will choose the property sort order from top to bottom. Click on the six dots to drag the sort order around.

To change the Sort view, click on the “Status” text again to bring up the menu (or click on the Sort button again).

Filtering Databases

One of the most powerful features of Notion databases is the ability to filter the entries. This enables you to set the context for a database:

  • Showing tasks for one particular project or only due this week
  • All the books you have read this year
  • Blog post ideation phase only

You may not need database filtering when you first start out, however as you continue to add entries, you’ll unlikely need to see everything at all times. For now, we’ll stick with a simple filter which means we will only target a single property.

  • Similar to Sort, click on the Filter button at the top right of your database
Filter database
  • Again, let’s filter by Status type. Select the “In Progress”. This will only show you the “In progress” property type entries. In the top right ellipsis (…), you add Advance Filters and add additional filter rules. We’ll park this topic for another post as it can be quite complicated!
Status filter
  • You will end up with a database table like this:
Filtered database

The “Status” property is quite unique in that you can filter by a pre-determined list of attributes. If you change the filter to the “Name” property which is a text-based property, you will be presented with a different menu.

Logic filters

These are logic filters and work as they are read. For example, you can filter for “Name” that “Contains” that has the value “Notion Foundations”. This means the database entry must contain “Notion Foundations” for it to be displayed. Spend some time and experiment with these filters so you get used to them.

To change the Filter view, click on the “Rule” text to bring up the menu (or click on the Filter button again).

Database Views

Type Of Database Layouts

The last item I’d like to cover in this lesson is database views. In our example, we have started with a Table view. There are six available layouts:

  • Table – a traditional database view with rows and rows of data
  • Board – a Kanban board view that gives you a good holistic view of the status of each item
  • Timeline – a Gantt chart view
  • Calendar – a monthly Calendar view (unfortunately it’s only fixed to a monthly view at the moment)
  • List – a trimmed-down version of a table – it’s literally a list of all your database entries
  • Gallery – an image-oriented view of your database. I’ve got a tutorial on How To Add Image To Gallery View In Notion here.

How To Add A New Database Layout

You can create as many views of your database as you’d like. To create a new view, click on the “+” up the top of your database block.

New view
  • Type in a name for your view in the “View name” text box and select the type of layout you want. In this example, let’s choose “Board”. Under the “Group by” setting, select “Type”.
Board view settings
  • As we grouped by “Type” property, each of the board headings is based on the Type. Another feature of the board view is that you can drag each entry into another column and the property will be automatically updated. The board view is also quite handy with a task manager database, providing you with a quick holistic view of all your tasks.
Board view

As mentioned, you can have as many views as you’d like and you’ll see them listed across the top of the database block. Switching is as simple as clicking on the tab name. If you have a full-page database, you can also access the views via the sidebar menu.

Pro tip – I create additional views on the original database. You can then create links to the pre-made views. This saves you time if you use the same database view across several pages across your workspace.

Wrap Up

In this guide, we’ve covered some of the main features of Notion databases. You are now ready to create your own productivity tool, incorporating blocks and databases onto your personal dashboard. 

As I’ve mentioned along the way, experiment and get your hands dirty – you’ll be surprised at your final product!

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