Relation drop down filter (Notion)

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It seems you can't filter the content of a dropdown box that is populated through a relation - And it's remarkably inconvenient.

The real-world-solution to this problem is painfully obvious: have a SQL statement for populating the relation, that can include a filter. That has probably been the standard solution since early '70s.

If you're desperate enough, there are some workarounds, but none seems satisfying - See separate chapters below.


  1. Associating people with tasks: I can't filter out people with status Not working here anymore.
  2. Items that are associated with tags (clusters) that are not relevant anymore, like FamilyGathering2022 or Release2023.01

Use an intermediate table?

Maybe one workaround could be (for the first example above):

  • Have a second table people_2
  • Somehow copy content from first table people to second table people_2 with a filter
  • Use people_2 to populate dropdown box.

When I would have to resort to such an elaborate workaround, I don't think I should be doing it at all - Unless this would be the only issue in Notion.

Have a filter in front of the table?

Another potential solution: Have a lookup based on a view or filter and not on a table. That's how I would do such a thing in e.g., Microsoft Access. But I don't think you can do that in Notion, can you?

Remove outdated records?

For something more radical: Remove the outdated records. Problem: Associated data becomes corrupt (less accurate).

Remove outdated data to backup?

Slightly more radical:

  • As before: Remove all fields that are outdated
  • But first move all affected data to a backup-database.

This might be the only 'real' solution, without corrupting data. But it might also be highly inpractical. Maybe it's something to do at the beginning of each year: Make a complete backup of the system, and remove the outdated fields in the current version of the system. This way, it hopefully becomes clear where certain data has gone - If you're aware that you're missing something.

See also