Visual sections: why and when using a custom field is better than a section

Hi :wave:,

If you want to have visual sections in an #asana project, there are two ways: use real Sections or use a custom field and sort by that custom field.

Note: for that last trick to work properly, you need to un-toggle “Sort within sections” in the Sort menu.

I have a preference for the second solution, but because I had no tangible reason, I decided to really study the difference.

Why use sections (solution #1):

  1. sections become columns in board view, not custom fields
  2. sections display lanes in Timeline view
  3. people get confused with solution #2 because they can’t create a new section easily
  4. you can still sort by another field
  5. it works with the Free plan

Why use a custom field (solution #2):

  1. you can share custom fields between projects
  2. you can search for custom fields more easily than sections
  3. if a task has several statuses/stages with custom fields, having another status with the section is weird
  4. if you have too many tasks within a section, the section itself might be outside the screen and you can’t see it when a custom field could always be visible in a column
  5. you can still have the 2nd level of section if you use a custom field for the 1st level
  6. if there are not tasks with that value, the “section” does not show

Did I miss anything?


Great topic @Bastien_Siebman this is really something I often wonder about.

If you use sections then you can sort by a custom field or by due date, while you can’t sort (for instance by due date) within “custom field sections”.


Good point, I’ll add it


Nice comparison, @Bastien_Siebman. In addition:

  • Sections are best for free plans since Custom Fields aren’t available
  • Custom Fields help solve the want-to-hide-section-header-containing-only-completed-tasks problem.



What about… Custom Fields can serve as a sub-section of a Section.

1 Like

@Bastien_Siebman Nice analysis!

Usually I like to summarize it by:

  • Sections = project-specific concepts
  • Custom Fields = global concepts across projects

If you’re a fan of visual management (using colours), then Custom Fields are definitely better, whether using Lists or Boards or Timelines or Calendars.


Yes that was my you can still have the 2nd level of section if you use a custom field for the 1st level

Well done! Thanks, added.

Unless you use a custom field locally only to build sections, isn’t it?


I’m very curious about this but not sure I entirely follow. As a visual learner, is there a way to see an example of something organised by sections versus an example where someone used custom fields?

It looks exactly the same =)

For me I am using the custom fields to curate data and house in one place and then the sections to communicate where that data is in a process or summary.

It does take more time to set up fields and custom fields but it does help with better data management and rules.