I have a list that I'd like to do some validation on, but I'm having trouble with the exact syntax of the idea (if it's even possible). The idea is that if a list item's field is NULL, then the particular field will populate with "N/A" when the item is saved in the list.

Any ideas?

2 Answers 2


Columns are"blank" rather than NULL. Try this in a Calculated Column if you want to display the message in another column.

. =IF( ISBLANK( [yourColumn] ), "n/a", "")

If the column is a Single line of Text column, then you could set the default to "n/a".

You can add a validation if you want to prevent the save when blank.

  • I'd rather display the "N/A" message in the same column, but let's see how this goes. Of course, using the N/A as default on CHOICE columns works, too (although it took me a minute to consider that option. It's Friday, and my brain is certainly acting like it). I'll keep you posted. Thanks!
    – DanJ
    Jul 6, 2018 at 21:19

Same column default calculated values wont work as the formula can not circular reference the column which contains it.

However, this can be achieved a number of ways, depending if you simply wish to display the N/A for cosmetic purposes in the UI, or if you actually require the underlying value to be set.

For display only :-

Or if you actually need to set the underlying value :-

  • Column default value set to N/A - This trade off will actually set the value of the column the first time a user leaves it blank, but if a user changes to something else and then sets it to a blank value again it will no longer be N/A
  • Workflow / Event Receiver or other external programmatic process (Timer job) to set the value to N/A whenever it is detected as being blank

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