Field types

Deciding which type of field will best store your information

Updated over a week ago

Heads up! This is a guide for admins. If you're not an admin yet, ask your Beacon admin to promote you so you can start managing fields.

Creating new fields in your Beacon database? Below is a list of all of the different types of fields, and the limits associated with them.

Short text

A short text string. Good for arbitrary short pieces of text, like job titles or the name of an event.

Maximum 255 characters. If you need any longer than this, please use the long text field type.

Long text

A longer piece of text. Great for notes and descriptions.

It's not possible to create filters based on long text fields, but you can search across them using the search feature.

There's no limit on the size of the text in this field.


A web address link. Must be a full and valid URL. Maximum 255 characters.

Email address

An email address. It's possible to allow multiple email addresses. If you choose to allow this, you'll be able to set a primary email.

Phone number

A phone number. Like the email field, it's possible to allow phone numbers. If you choose to allow this, you'll be able to set a primary number.

File upload

Store uploaded files, of any type. It's possible to allow just one file to be uploaded to this field, or multiple.

The maximum file upload size is 50MB.

Text (encrypted)

All data in Beacon is already encrypted and firewalled, but sometimes you'll want to add an extra layer of security for some text data (e.g. patient notes).

Note that it's not possible to search or filter based on content stored in encrypted fields. You can only filter based on 'is blank' and 'is not blank.'

Encrypted fields are still able to be seen by all users. To restrict particular fields, use the Roles and Permissions feature.

Drop-down list

If you're looking to categorise and filter your records, drop-down lists can be very useful.

You can optionally allow multiple items from the drop-down to be selected, which is useful when a record fits into multiple categories.


A numeric value, either positive or negative.

You can specify the maximum number of allowed decimal places, if you need more precision.

You can also turn number fields into auto-number fields to create unique number values for every record.


A currency value, e.g. "£10". If you're storing monetary values, you should use this field type as opposed to the more basic number type.

You can store values in any currency, although your database will need a single "primary" currency.


A percentage value, e.g. 5%. Like number fields, it's possible to set a maximum number of decimal places for percent fields. In Beacon, the percentage is stored as a whole number: "45 = 45%


A rating value (e.g. 1-5 stars, 1-10 hearts). Stored as a whole number. Useful for scoring things like propensity and engagement.


A checkbox. Can be checked or unchecked. In other systems, this may be referred to as a "boolean" field.

Note: With checkboxes, the following values can be thought of as interchangeable. Checked = yes, y, true or 1. Unchecked = no, n, false, or 0.


A specific date, and optionally a time.

Note: If you have a date & time field, but only enter a date, it will default to 9:00AM


A place in the world, usually used for addresses. For location fields, the following sub-fields can be entered:

  • Address line one

  • Address line two

  • City

  • Region

  • Country

  • Postal code

Additionally, location fields are automatically "geocoded", so you'll be able to see a map view of the address.

It's possible to have 1 or more locations added in a single location field. You can also set a primary location.

Point to another record

Unlike spreadsheets, databases are smart enough to create links between records. This is very useful for keeping your data clean and up-to-date, and to give you a bigger picture about how things relate to one another.

A good example is a Donation/Payment made by a Person. When stored in Beacon, this means:

A payment record, which has a field that points to a person record - the person who made the donation

If you enable it, it's possible to point to one or more records in a given field (e.g. a Person could work at multiple Organisations). You can also choose which record types the field can point at (e.g. a payment can be made by either a Person or an Organisation).

Link to a user

Sometimes you want to assign an internal team member to a record. For example - you way want to set an "Account Manager" specifically for higher value donors (people) in your database.

Similarly to other fields, it's possible to set multiple users in one field, if you enable it.

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