Cross Reference Linked Records in *Same Table*

Topic Labels: Base design
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4 - Data Explorer
4 - Data Explorer

I’ve become pretty proficient in Airtable over the last year and have used it for countless purposes. However, this one is stumping me a bit.

Within the same table, I want to link record A to record B, and have that link show up in two separate columns indicating the relationship. Example…

I’m creating a base to track cattle for a farming business. One table will have “inventory” to track all of the cattle; previously and currently held. Some cattle will produce offspring and I would like to track this in the same table by using linked records. I would like one column to indicate the parents and a separate column to indicate children/offspring. Here is a basic example:

Obviously, the table would track much more information than this, but the link is where I’m having trouble. By adding “parent” to one column, I want the linked record to show a cross-link under the offspring to show the relationship.

I’ve been able to do this by creating a 2nd table that links “family ties” and shows the relationship that way, but I’d prefer to use just one table.

I also tried using automation, which works great if there is just one link. The second I add a second child or a 2nd parent, Airtable can’t determine which record(s) to update.

any suggestions?

4 Replies 4
18 - Pluto
18 - Pluto

Welcome to the community, @Tyler_Thom!

Unfortunately, this is one of the biggest flaws in Airtable, and nobody can figure out why Airtable made the decision to not automatically cross-link records within the same table.

Please be sure to send an email to to let them know how important this feature would be to you. Everybody who uses Airtable would greatly benefit from this feature, but so far, the Airtable team has steadfastly refused to listen to us. I think they take pride in not hearing us. Lol.

In the meantime, there are only 2 ways to accomplish this:

1. The first solution would be to implement your own JavaScript that accomplishes this. Here’s a script from @openside that does that for you: Same Table Linked Records Backlinks | BuiltOnAir

2. The second solution would be to use a low-code automation tool like Make, which doesn’t require any knowledge of JavaScript. However, it does come with its own learning curve, so I created a very short navigation video to help people dive into the app a little quicker.

I recently came across this issue. It's surprising and frustrating that Airtable does not automatically cross-link records within the same table. I just emailed support to highlight the importance of this. It's a strange omission for an otherwise amazing tool. 

4 - Data Explorer
4 - Data Explorer

Another way around this is to create a second table to "hold" the relationships between the entities in your first table. In your example, you create a "Relationships" table where one column is "Parent" and one column is "Child". Each of those columns are linked to records in your Cows table (one record only - not multiple). This will create back linking columns in your Cows table (eg "Parent Relationships" and "Child Relationships"). This will by default show the name column in the Relationships table, so you have to turn your "Parents" and "Children" columns into Rollups based on these new columns. Then you can set Red Cow as the parent and Lavender Cow as the child in one record in your relationships column, and Red Cow will now show up in Lavender Cow's "Parents column" and vice versa.

5 - Automation Enthusiast
5 - Automation Enthusiast

Yes, Airtable, please fix this.  It creates so many awkward situations.  Airtable would be so much more useful if Linked Records in the same table were cross-referenced like this.  This is already the case for linked records in separate tables, and should apply the same way for records in the same table.