“Notion relation” is a feature that allows you to connect two databases, transfer data from one to the other, and place the transferred data in the right spots. Setting up a Notion relation is a prerequisite to using the Notion rollups feature, which allows you to perform calculations on the imported data, without impacting the data in the other table.
Let’s take an example to explore this feature before we discuss how to set it up.
Suppose you own a design agency. You have two databases to record the contract duration of your clients. The first database - A, records all clients who avail your services on an ad-hoc basis, and B records clients who have signed a contract of at least 3-months. Both databases have just two columns - the first one for the client name and the second one for the revenue they generate.
You plan to do a revenue analysis to see which clients generated the most income over the past year — irrespective of the contract duration. That’s where the Notion relations feature can help. It can help you move client names from A to B, or B to A, so that you can record them all in one place. Alternatively, you can move all data into a new database - C, which becomes a master view for future use as well.
Irrespective of how you transfer data, you have it all in one place. Next, you can use the Notion rollups feature to perform calculations on the revenue column.
However, most real-life use-cases are much more complicated. Let’s explore the process of setting up relations in Notion with the help of one such example.
Here are the 4 steps to creating a relation in Notion:
1. Create at least two databases
You need at least two databases to play around with the relations feature in Notion. In our example, we will refer to the two databases displayed in the image below.
The first database records the active marketing campaigns of a company. However, it’s a very specific database that only records two data points: the name of the campaign and the owner.
The second database is more detailed. It records the SEO function of the campaign. It accounts for: the SEO pages to be created, the channels where the content will be repurposed and shared, and the cost incurred while creating those pages.
Now, let's assume that the content manager wishes to see the SEO topics per campaign. And they have asked you to create a Notion database that records that information.
To create that view, you will have to pull data from the “SEO Plan” database into the “Campaigns” database. The subsequent steps will show how to do that.
2. Add a new column and set the property type to “Relation”
To move data from the “SEO Plan” database, we will create a new column in the “Campaign” database and change its property to “Relation”, as displayed in the image below.
This informs Notion that the new column is supposed to record data from another database.
3. Set the right database to link with
Notion is expecting us to provide a database from which it is supposed to pull data, let’s give it that information.
As soon as you click on the “Relation” option while setting the property type, Notion will display the list of all databases in your Notion teamspace, as displayed in the image above. We need to select one from the list.
The “SEO Plan” database is visible in the second position. We will click on it to establish a relation between the two databases.
4. Add the data next to the relevant row entry
Next, let’s add relevant data from the “SEO Plan” database into the “Campaigns” database.
The “VoIP Software” campaign should include all the entries from the “SEO Plan” database that have the word “VoIP” in them. There are 3 such entries.
Whereas, the “Automating Caller” campaign must have only one entry because there is only one SEO page that has the phrase “Automating Caller” in it.
To add the items into the correct cells within the “Campaign” database, click on the cell in the “SEO Plan” column juxtaposed against the “VoIP Software” campaign, and insert the 3 items by clicking on them, as displayed in the above image.
Repeat the steps for the “Automating Caller” campaign.
And that’s it! That’s how you set up a “relation” property in Notion.
How to apply a filter on the Notion relation property?
1. Hover over the database that contains the Notion relation property.
2. Click on the “Filter” option that appears. With that, Notion will display the list of all properties in the database.
3. Click on the Notion relation property on which you want to apply the filter.
4. Finally, enter the criteria to set up the filter and hit enter.
Here’s how to fix dysfunctional Notion relation property
Notion takes a while to add new databases to the search directory. If you created a new database moments back and are unable to find it while trying to link to another database, hold the process for a few minutes. This will give Notion ample time to record the database in its index and serve it to you when you try again.