Using Card Reference Fields

See Card Reference in Action

Quick Start: Create a board from the Amazing Card References template.
Adding new field: Open board settings, add a new field from Add > Advanced Fields > Card Reference

What is card reference field?

Imagine that you have a Trello board for all your active work projects.  For each project you may want to track the customer the project is for and the team members that are working on the project.  With standard Trello cards this can be difficult, with card references you just add a field and make the link between cards.

  • Boards: 
    • Customer Board: a card for each customer along with fields containing their data
    • Employee Board: a card for each employee including team and other details
    • Project Board: a card for each project with a field for the related customer and a field for a list of assigned employees
  • Project Board Fields:
    • customer: a card reference field restricted to the Customers board cards
    • team: a card reference field allowing multiple selections restricted to the Employees board cards

Database Links

If you are familiar with tools like Microsoft Access or other database systems, you may recognize that card reference fields are similar to the concept of database relationships. Card references let you treat your Trello boards as database "tables" and each card as a "record". This opens a range of possibilities to create workflows for your unique data management needs.

Example Use Cases

Card reference fields allow nearly infinite ways to connect up the data in your personal or enterprise boards.  A few examples include:

  • Project Management: create cards for each task and link to the teams, customers, products, and goals associated with the task.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM): create cards for each customer linked to cards for each company.  Then reference these customer cards from all your other boards as you manage work, tasks, documents, etc.
  • Product Tracking: create a board with all the products you sell.  Create customer requests or invoice cards that reference the products.
  • Property Management: create a card for each property you are managing or selling.  Then link those properties to key pieces of information like associated customer, property managers, listing agents, etc.


How to Setup Card Reference Fields

You can add a new Card Reference field type through the normal add field workflow.  Simply click Add and then go to the Advanced Fields section to select the Card Reference type.  Once added you can set the name and other standard options related to field display, layout, visiblity, and permissions.  

The unique settings are in the "Card Reference Settings" section.  An example is shown below.

Available settings include:

  • Allow multiple: toggle on if you want to allow users to select multiple cards.  These will be shown in a list on the card details and the card names will show on the front of the card in a comma separated list.
  • Board: by default, the user can select any card from the current board.  This settings lets you instead choose a different board where cards should come from.  For example having a customer field refer to cards on a Customer Board.
  • List(s): by default, the user can choose any card from the selected board.  This setting lets you restrict the cards to only those in one or more specific lists on the board.  For example you may want to restrict to only the "active" customers for your organization.

Field Details and Editor

When you open a card to see the full details you will see an interface like above.  For each of the card reference fields, you can see the currently selected cards.

  • Open Details: If you click on the card, a new tab will open showing you the details for that card.  For example you can click on a customer card to see the full details you know about that customer.
  • Editing: If you have edit rights on the board, you can click on the editing icon or the background of the field to open an editor that lets you choose the card(s) that should be associated.
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