Lookup columns aren’t friendly to a lot of things. Power BI reports, calculated columns, creating new items via workflow when both lists have lookup columns, if/then statements, etc. Especially when your lookup column is looking up to a list from another site, not the same subsite in which you’re working.

A previous scenario required that I create a new item in a different site’s list when conditions were met in the origin site’s list item. Both lists used the same lookup column, and I received the “lookup is in another web” error when trying to do a direct copy via workflow, from lookup column to lookup column. The solution ended up being creating a new item in a temporary, lookup-free list that received the lookup values just as text. Then SharePoint Designer copied those over to the final list, which received the text and happily converted it back to the appropriate lookup values. See the full solution here.

This post will focus on the same error message, but this time is triggered by a SharePoint Designer workflow in a different scenario where we just want to convert our lookup values to text so we can use them for various purposes.

To save you time, I also tried (and failed) at these potential solutions before finding success:

  • Setting workflow variables to the lookup values and trying to set the variables to text values, or use the variables in my if/then statements to create new text values (this defeats the purpose of using lookup columns, of course)
  • Using a number of combinations of Microsoft Flow and SharePoint Designer to get the data from the lookup column extracted then “pasted” back in as text

So let’s get to the solution. Feel free to comment with your scenario specifics – I’ve had a lot of experience with this error, and would be happy to help.



This is a fairly simple solution that takes a date column, compares it to another date and gives you an answer in years (or days, or whatever you want). You’ll need to already have date columns to work with, and if comparing the date to today (years of age, membership, service, etc.) you’ll need a today column (hidden from the view above). This previous post will help you rig a “today” column that is always accurate without needing to update list items manually. Of course all of the following solutions work for any two dates (i.e. day span of vacation request), I’m just sharing specific examples that would involve “Today”.


You may, at some point, find yourself working with calculations among dates, including “today’s date” which conceptually seems simple but requires a bit of work to function correctly. You may have even created a “today” column that defaults to “current date” or attempted a calculated column only to find that the date will not automatically update each day or that calculated columns cannot show dynamic data like that. Fret no more.

Today columns are essential for use in calculated columns that tell you things like “days until event”, “days without incident” or “years of service” without needing to click any buttons or take any additional steps. Your list’s calculated columns using your new Today column will always accurately reflect calculations using the current date. We’re going to create our solution via SharePoint designer workflow and a new Today column.  


Updated 10/17/17

This project allows users a quick option to save something they see on a SharePoint calendar to their own calendar. Spend 5 minutes on these few instructions and your users will have a convenient way to get involved going forward. Note that in modern calendar experiences, there’s a built-in “add to calendar” option for event items. This post is for classic experience calendars and calendar items/events.

Basically we’re going to add a calculated text column called iCal which will use the list’s GUID (easy to get, don’t worry) and the specific calendar item’s default ID number to generate a clickable .ics (iCal) file link. Let’s get started!


This is a popular request that I’ve recently modified, thanks to the recommendation of a colleague, to be responsive to different device or browser sizes. By default, SharePoint lists respond to their viewer’s size but once customized with a fixed pixel width will lose that feature. This solution utilizes percentages so you can create column widths ideal for any screen.

tooltiplinkedtitlesIn a recent post, I discussed hyperlinking URL title text and adding tooltips. I used the above screenshot which also illustrates what we’ll accomplish in this post which is to remove the select/deselect checkmark column, column headers, toolbar edit/new options and chrome border. This leaves us with a simple title and list. Pick and choose what you’d like to remove for your specific needs, and let me know if you run into any issues.

You may have several forms or lists using dropdown menus across your site that you would have to update if, say, an individual resigned, or a department changed its name, or a building relocated. Manage this type of information (individuals, departments, buildings, etc. frequently used in lists and forms)  in separate lists that we’ll then use to create site-wide lookup columns to replace the many individual dropdowns across our sites that are repetitious. Basically, we’ll update the information in one place and know that it’s updated everywhere it’s needed across our site (or site collection if you’re familiar enough to go the extra mile with collection content types or Microsoft Flow, if your permissions aren’t at the site collection level).