Lookup Tables

June 16, 2016

Lookup tables are reference tables that may be used in validation and enabling conditions. They are prepared as external tab-delimited files and uploaded to the questionnaire in the Designer.
We use lookup tables to find content by some code and apply it in validations and enabling
conditions as part of larger expressions. Often times this lookup code is a code of an item in a price survey, occupational code in a labor force survey, or a code of crop in an agricultural survey.
Lookup tables are particularly convenient for storing time series data, such as historical exchange
rates for various currencies. Other uses involve storing estimated crop yields by crop, ranges of salaries by occupation, etc. While anthropometric z-scores can be implemented via lookup tables as well, users should refer to specialized z-score functions instead. 

The lookup tables must conform to the following format:

  • Contain the “rowcode” column, and up to 10 other numeric columns with reference data.
  • Values in “rowcode” column must be integer and unique
  • Other columns may contain repetitive content, as well as fractions.

Lookup tables may include up to 5,000 rows of reference data. Multiple lookup tables may be defined within the same questionnaire.


How to upload a look up table

  1. Click on the lookup table icon on the left hand panel.

  2. Click on the Add new lookup tablelink.

  3. Type in the *table name, *and click on the *select file *link to upload the table delimited lookup table.

  4. Click save.

The short syntax for the reference in condition expressions is:


It requires the name of the lookup table, the value of the code, and the name of the column for the content of interest


Consider the following example:

Suppose, that you want to add a validation condition that provides an error message for plot areas that are greater than 2 hectares.


However, the single-select unit question allows for the plot area to be reported in other units of measurement in addition to hectare.

The tab delimited lookup table with unit conversion factors.

After uploading the tab-delimited lookup table following the directions explained previously,

We will add the following validation expression to the single-select unit question. 

Here, plotarea refers to numeric area question. ConversionFactors is the name of the look up table we have uploaded to Designer. Self refers to the single-select unit question that holds the validation expression, and conversion refers to the conversion factor column in the lookup table.
If “Acre” is selected, then the reported plot area will be multiplied by row 1 of the “conversion” column in the lookup table. And, this calculated value must be less than 2 hectare.  The same follows for the other possible units. 

To see a demonstration of this process check out this video.

For more in-depth information and extended examples, please refer to the Lookup Tables Reference.