We have a scenario where we need to have many columns inside a library, for which the drop-down values will be retrieved using look-ups from several lists. As we know there is a default threshold set by Microsoft '12' for number of lookups. For sure my need is much more than this threshold. I have read that each lookup is a join with a table(list in this case). So i need a suggestion from experienced sharepoint developers what is a better approach, lookups or direct adding choices for the dropdowns?

As I have heard that as the number of lookup increases, substantially performance decreases. But at the same point i don't want to make it hectic for my administrators later when the project is delivered, that every time they have to increase a choice they will have to add a hardcore choice to the columns rather than just adding an item to the existing lists.

Thank you in advance.

3 Answers 3


Yes this is correct more lookups will decrease performance , so I recommend you mix between lookups and direct adding choices for the dropdowns based on your requirement , So

If you have

  • Ease of adding new values by end users > Look up.
  • Ensuring that list values are relevant/ controlled > Choice.
  • Ability to use in views > Choice.
  • Performance > Choice.
  • Communicating choice options > Lookup.
  • Displaying related information > Lookup.
  • Including default values > Draw – it depends on the experience you are trying to achieve.
  • User experience and data updates when a value changes > Probably Lookup.
  • “Out of the box” Data Entry Experience > Lookup.

For more details check this


I would suggest you to increase the threshold value for lookup as this will make it easier for the admin to maintain the master list as compared to the hard coded value. Yes i agree,that increasing the lookup value will lay an impact on the performance but it actually depends on like what kind of services are you using in SharePoint. You can deactivate the services which are not in use to increase the performance. Even i have worked on a project where there were high no. of lookup's placed in the list but we too did the same. Similarly like for item in a list too, SharePoint has threshold value. That doesn't mean that you will stop adding items in the List.

  • Thank you Muskan, actually we will be developing document library for one of our client, where around 15 columns with meta data will be attached in future for each document. That means we need 15 look ups at least and at some moment of time there could be thousand of documents in this library. I hope it still performs the same. Also please let me know how can I change the threshold set default for number of lookups?
    – mohd tahir
    Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 11:38
  • Open Central Administration: Manage web applications / Select the web application, then from the drop down list 'General Settings' select 'Resource Throttling' / change the value of 'List View Lookup Threshold'
    – Muskan
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 7:45

Try to ser this columns as indexed, that will increase the performance, remember that you can have a max amount of 20 indexed columns in each list.
About the threshold values: note that increasing this numbers will affect your overall performance, instead try to plan your application according.
SharePoint 2013 limits and boundaries
Overcoming 5000 items threshold

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