The `if()`

function is among the most versatile and widely used functions in Notion and other spreadsheet tools. By allowing you to **return values according to specified conditions**, it bolsters your ability to automate properties and streamline your operation.

This guide presents the fundamentals of `if()`

, then explores a few practical examples whose principles can be applied widely. For your reference, those examples are available as a template on Notion Market.

#### Here’s what you’ll learn:

## What’s a Notion function?

If you’re new to Notion functions, consider starting with *Meet Notion’s Formula Property* and *Formulas for Work: Part 1*. If you just need a refresher, here’s an overview:

- Used within the Formula properties of databases, functions are preconfigured actions to perform on input values.
- Those inputs are known as
**arguments**. Functions accept a specified number of arguments, and those arguments must be a particular value type, such as`numbers`

,`strings`

(text),`dates`

or`booleans`

(true or false). - There are a variety of functions for each value type. You’ll find a full list in my
*Notion Formula Cheat Sheet.*

## What’s the `if()`

function?

The `if()`

function is a special type of function that returns values based on specified conditions. Simply stated: *if Condition A is true, return Value X; otherwise, return Value Y.*

Take an exam score, for example: *If Score is at least 80%, return Pass; otherwise, return Fail.*

To accomplish this, `if()`

accepts three arguments:

- An expression that evaluates to a
`boolean`

(true or false) - The value to return if Argument 1 evaluates to
`true`

- The value to return if Argument 1 evaluates to
`false`

The first argument typically **compares** values using comparison operators, such as `>`

, `≥`

, `==`

and `!=`

. Almost always, one or more of the compared values is a reference to another property. In our example, the exam score is drawn from another property in the database. Therefore, `if()`

takes these arguments:

`prop("Score") ≥ 8`

`"Pass"`

`"Fail"`

Here’s the full formula:

`if( prop("Score") ≥ 8, "Pass", "Fail" )`

For the first argument, you can create complex comparisons using the `and()`

and `or()`

functions. So long as it evaluates to a single `true`

or `false`

, you can make the expression as elaborate as needed.

Additionally, you can specify more than two conditions by “nesting” `if()`

functions. I illustrate this in the following examples.

## Automatically grade exams.

By using “child” `if()`

functions within the arguments of “parent” `if()`

functions, we can create more than two possible outcomes. This is known as “nesting.” Building on the previous example, this allows us to assign a letter grade to each exam score.

Argument 3 of `if()`

specifies the value to return if Argument 1 is `false`

. If we use an inner `if()`

statement as Argument 3, we can add an additional condition. Consider this series of conditions:

- If
**Score**is greater than or equal to 90%, return “A”; - otherwise, if
**Score**is is greater than or equal to 80%, return “B”; - otherwise, return “C.”

We can construct this with an `if()`

function as the third argument of outer `if()`

function:

```
if(
prop("Score") >= .9,
"A",
if(
prop("Score") >= .8,
"B",
"C"
)
)
```

*This format makes it easy to identify arguments and nested functions. To paste into Notion, eliminate the line breaks by pasting into your browser’s address bar, then re-copying.*

“C” is the third argument of the nested `if()`

. Therefore, you can create scenarios for “D” and “F” by adding further nested `if()`

functions:

```
if(
prop("Score") >= .9,
"A",
if(
prop("Score") >= .8,
"B",
if(
prop("Score") >= .7,
"C",
if(
prop("Score") >= .6,
"D",
"F"
)
)
)
)
```

At each step, we know that all previous conditions are `false`

.

## Automate project status.

For dashboards and filtered database views, it’s helpful to assign a status to projects, such as “Planned,” “In Progress” and “Complete.”

Using Relation and Rollup properties, you can automatically calculate the progress of a project as a percentage of its completed tasks. An `if()`

function can then reference that “Progress” property to populate “Status.”

If Progress is 0%, Status is “Planned.” If Progress is 100%, Status is “Complete.” Otherwise, Status is “Active.”

With just one nested `if()`

, we can compose this formula:

```
if(
prop("Progress") == 0,
"Planned",
if(
prop("Progress") == 1,
"Complete",
"Active"
)
)
```

## Automatically prioritize tasks with The Eisenhower Matrix.

The Eisenhower Matrix is a system of prioritizing tasks based on their **importance** and **urgency**. You designate each task as either “Important” or “Not Important,” and “Urgent” or “Not Urgent,” and the matrix instructs you to “Do,” “Schedule,” “Delegate” or “Eliminate.”

With a Notion database and the `if()`

function, you can automate this process and sort your tasks by priority.

A database of tasks has a `Select`

property called “Importance” with two options: “Important” and “Not Important.” Another `Select`

property, “Urgency,” has the options “Urgent” and “Not Urgent.”

A `Formula`

property, “Priority,” references Impact and Urgency to return an action for each task. In natural language, the formula says:

- If Urgency is “Urgent”:
- If Importance is “Important,” return “Do”
- Otherwise (Importance is “Not Important”), return “Delegate”

- Otherwise (Urgency is “Not Urgent”):
- If Importance is “Important,” return “Schedule”
- Otherwise (Importance is “Not Important”), return “Eliminate”

To achieve this, we us an `if()`

function for Argument 2 and Argument 3 of an outer `if()`

:

```
if(
prop("Urgency") == "Urgent",
if(
prop("Importance") == "Important",
"Do",
"Delegate"
),
if(
prop("Importance") == "Important",
"Schedule",
"Eliminate"
)
)
```

To keep the Priority property of unpopulated tasks empty, we can use the full formula above as Argument 3 of an outer `if()`

that uses `or()`

and `empty()`

to test whether Urgency or Importance is blank:

```
if(
or( empty(prop("Urgency")), empty(prop("Importance"))),
"",
if(
prop("Urgency") == "Urgent",
if(
prop("Importance") == "Important",
"Do",
"Delegate"
),
if(
prop("Importance") == "Important",
"Schedule",
"Eliminate"
)
)
)
```

Once prioritized, it’s helpful to sort tasks by their priority. To so, we can add another Formula property, `Priority Order`

, which returns a number for each possible priority.

In natural language:

- If Priority is “Do,” return
`1`

; - otherwise, if Priority is “Delegate,” return
`2`

; - otherwise, if Priority is “Schedule,” return
`3`

; - otherwise, return
`4`

.

Here’s the formula:

```
if(
prop("Priority") == "Do",
1,
if(
prop("Priority") == "Delegate",
2,
if(
prop("Priority") == "Schedule",
3,
4
)
)
)
```

You can then sort your tasks by Priority Order (ascending), then hide the property.

*Questions? Tweet @WilliamNutt.*