Re: Circular reference in table Mainfield

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4 - Data Explorer
4 - Data Explorer


I encountered a problem while filling a table. In my main field I’m trying to reference a date field of my table who is a lookup to a date field in another table.

When I try to do this, I have an error stipulating a circular reference.

When I try the formula in another column of the table (not the main field) it works fine.

Are there limitations on the main fields of a table?

Thanks in advance,

6 Replies 6

Yes, there are limitations that involve circular references. These limitations are not unique to the primary field. You can get circular reference errors that do not involve the primary field when you have same-table links. The key aspect about circular reference errors is that they almost always involve a linked record field somewhere in the system.

Unlike a spreadsheet, Airtable will not let you create a system of calculated fields with a circular reference. Instead you must create a gap in the circular reference with an editable field. You bridge that gap by copying a value from a calculated field to the editable field. You can do the copying manually or through an automation.

Yes but what’s strange is that when I use the same formula in another column of the table (not the main field) it works fine?

If one formula field gives you an error and the other one doesn’t, then your circular reference is referring to the field where the error is.

As @kuovonne mentioned above, circular references are not allowed in Airtable. I didn’t even realize that they were allowed in spreadsheets! I’ve worked in databases my whole life, and they are never allowed in databases.

Yes, I’ve seen this situation crop up before. There has always been a linked record field somewhere in the system when the problem is with a formula in the primary field but not other fields. However, circular reference errors can happen in other locations under different circumstances.

Well, spreadsheets technically don’t allow circular references either. However spreadsheets do allow having two columns calculate off of each other, which Airtable would call a circular reference. The difference is because the spreadsheet formulas reference specific cells in the spreadsheet versus entire columns the way Airtable does. In a spreadsheet, each formula in each cell is actually a slightly different formula, unlike in Airtable.


Thanks, I’ll check which fields reference my main field. And see if I can find the problem.