How to master notion databases - A definitive guide

From understanding the basics to exploring advanced features, this guide empowers you to navigate, design, and optimize Notion databases with confidence.

Dec 13, 2023
How to master notion databases - A definitive guide
Notion the jack of all trades. If you've played with Excel or Google Sheets, great! Notion's kinda same.
Think of Notion as a table with superpowers. Rows and columns, like a regular table, but each row is like its own treasure chest with extra info.

What is Notion Database?

A Notion database is a collection of related items, similar to a spreadsheet or database in other applications. However, Notion databases offer much more flexibility and functionality. Each item in a database is represented as a page, which can contain text, images, videos, files, and other content.
Check out this empty database to see these ideas in action:
notion image

1. Database-Basic Feature

When you move your mouse over any row in a database, a cool Open button pops up. Click it, and voila! You're on the page for that entry.
It might not sound like a big deal, but here's the magic: the entry page can hold way more than just the basic properties. It's like a hidden space for all the extra details about that entry.
notion image
Imagine a book database in Notion. If you've read a book, you fill its database column page with your notes. If not, the page stays blank until you're ready. Database pages are like any other Notion page – you can add videos, images, links, and even sub-pages.
Tip : Create a central database to store all your information and link it to other relevant pages and databases.

2. Database Types

When making a database in Notion, you'll be prompted to choose between "Inline" or "Full page." No need to stress about it; it's just a user interface detail. Both options are the same type of database, with no difference in features.
notion image
Decide if you want to incorporate other content around the database on the page or if you prefer the database to have its own separate page. You can easily switch between these options later without losing any data.
Tip : When unsure about creating a new database, simply choose "Database - Full page.”

3. Notion has no database limits

In Notion, you can create as many databases as you need, each with properties and entries. Keep in mind, more content might slow down loading times.
Notion has a limit on the number of entries loaded at once for faster performance. Databases are flexible – they're blocks, so place them anywhere. You can even have multiple databases on one page with the Inline Database option!
Tip : Check out load limits for bigger databases, and utilize views to decrease the amount of data loaded simultaneously.

4. Database Views

A database view is a unique combination of layout, filters, sorts, and more. Keep in mind that a database block can have multiple views. Each view comes with a “View Options” menu, allowing you to tweak almost any setting related to that view.
notion image
Here, you can control almost every setting in your database, including:
  1. Database name
  1. Layout options – Table, Board, Calendar, and more
  1. Property settings – toggle properties on the current view
  1. Filtering, sorting, and grouping options
  1. Lock Database/Lock Views – on the source database, it locks the entire database; on a Linked Database, it locks the Linked Database's views
  1. Copy Link to View – copies the link to the current database view
  1. Duplicate View – duplicates the current view
  1. Delete View – removes the current view
Tip : For large databases, make a Table Layout view displaying all properties without filters. This way, you can easily refer to it whenever you need a reminder of the complete database structure.

5. Layout Types

A layout serves as a visual representation of data in a view, and each view requires a layout.
Beyond the usual Table or List, Notion offers various visual layouts to pick from:
notion image
Understanding layouts might be a bit confusing initially when diving into Notion databases. When you're adding a database, you'll encounter options labeled as "views," all with familiar names.
notion image
Technically, these options are named after the layout that will be used for the first view of the new database you're adding.

6. Linked Views

The linked view in Notion, despite name changes, is essentially a special display of a database that you can place on different pages. Changes made in a linked view will affect the original database. You can create a linked view based on an existing view, but its settings (filtering, sorting, layout) become separate from the original database views after creation.
Tip : Opt for using linked views rather than directly working within a database.

7. Database Properties

Properties serve as the columns in a database's table structure, offering a way to hold organized information about each row. They enable you to incorporate dates, checkboxes, tags, numbers, and various other elements into your databases.
Notion offers various types of properties. Some are editable, allowing you to modify the information on each row. Others are read-only, containing information that cannot be edited. Check out the table below for an overview of Notion's property types:
Holds text, which can be formatted.
Holds numbers. Can be formatted as a progress bar.
Holds singular “tags”.
Can hold multiple “tags”.
Indicates project/task status. Always has a default value. Can show as text or a checkbox.
Holds dates, which can be displayed absolutely (e.g. “03/25/22”) or relatively (e.g. “Tomorrow”).
Holds members or guests of the workspace.
Files & Media
Holds file attachments, including images, audio files, video, etc.
Holds a simple checkbox.
Holds a URL, which is clickable.
Holds an email address.
Holds a phone number, which can be called on supported devices.
Holds formulas that can process and output data in many ways.
Relates the row to other rows in the same database or another database.
Pulls in property information from Related rows.
Created time
Holds the date and time of the row’s creation.
Created by
Holds the workspace user who created the row.
Last edited time
Holds the date and time of the row’s last edit.
Last edited by
Holds the workspace user who last edited the row.
Tip : For seamless access to database pages on mobile, set up a straightforward view with the Name property as the first column.

8. Filtering & Sorting the Data

Notion databases allow you to filter and sort your data in a variety of ways. This makes it easy to find the information you need quickly and easily.
To filter your data, simply click the filter button in the top right corner of your database. You can then choose which properties you want to filter by, and what values you want to include.
To sort your data, simply click the sort button in the top right corner of your database. You can then choose which property you want to sort by, and whether you want to sort in ascending or descending order.

9. Advanced Features

Notion databases offer advanced features that enhance their functionality, and two powerful features are Formulas and Rollups.


Formulas in Notion allow you to perform calculations and operations on data within your database. You can create formulas to derive new information, perform mathematical operations, or manipulate text.
To create a formula:
  1. Open your database.
  1. Add a new property of type Formula.
  1. Write the formula using Notion's formula language, which includes functions like SUM, CONCATENATE, IF, and more.


Rollups enable you to aggregate information from related databases or linked entries within the same database. This feature is especially useful when you want to consolidate data from various sources or entries into a single, comprehensive view.
To create a Rollup:
  1. Open your database.
  1. Add a new property of type Rollup.
  1. Choose the source database or linked entries.
  1. Select the property you want to aggregate.
  1. Define the aggregation function, such as SUM, AVG, MAX, MIN, etc.
These advanced features, Formulas and Rollups, elevate the capabilities of Notion databases, allowing users to perform intricate calculations and gather insights from interconnected data, thereby enhancing the overall utility of the platform.
Tip : Use formulas to import data from external sources like Google Sheets or CSV files, expanding your database's reach and capabilities.

10. Locking Databases

Setting up databases can be time-consuming, and accidental changes like deleting properties, altering view settings, or tweaking formulas can lead to chaos. Luckily, Notion provides a solution by allowing you to lock your databases to prevent such unintended modifications.
To lock a database, follow these steps:
  1. Navigate to its original location.
  1. Open the View Options menu and click "Lock Database."
notion image
Once a database is locked:
  • You can't modify its structure.
  • You can still add new rows and set property values.
  • However, you won't be able to add new properties, delete properties, change property settings (e.g., modify a formula), or edit options in a Select or Multi-Select property.
If you need to make changes, you can simply unlock the database. Remember, the "Locked" button is only visible in the original database, not in Linked Databases.
Tip : For collaborators requiring temporary access, consider using guest accounts with limited permissions. This balances collaboration with data security.

Wrapping Up

Phew, we made it! This guide spilled the beans on all the cool features in Notion databases and now you’ve completed your masters in Notion Database.
Now, it's your turn to jump in and cook up your own databases. With the tricks we've shared, you can whip up tools that fit your workflows and tasks like a comfy glove. No need to stick to those old-school tools that just don't get how you like to work. Let's make your work life as unique as you are!