Can "list_display" in a Django ModelAdmin display attributes of ForeignKey fields?

I have a Person model that has a foreign key relationship to Book, which has a number of fields, but I'm most concerned about author (a standard CharField).

With that being said, in my PersonAdmin model, I'd like to display using list_display:

class PersonAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):
    list_display = ['',]

I've tried all of the obvious methods for doing so, but nothing seems to work.

Any suggestions?

Asked by: Lana241 | Posted: 28-01-2022

Answer 1

As another option, you can do look ups like:

class UserAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):
    list_display = (..., 'get_author')
    def get_author(self, obj):
    get_author.short_description = 'Author'
    get_author.admin_order_field = 'book__author'

Since Django 3.2 you can use display() decorator:

class UserAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):
    list_display = (..., 'get_author')
    @display(ordering='book__author', description='Author')
    def get_author(self, obj):

Answered by: Kelsey352 | Posted: 01-03-2022

Answer 2

Despite all the great answers above and due to me being new to Django, I was still stuck. Here's my explanation from a very newbie perspective.

class Author(models.Model):
    name = models.CharField(max_length=255)

class Book(models.Model):
    author = models.ForeignKey(Author)
    title = models.CharField(max_length=255) (Incorrect Way) - you think it would work by using 'model__field' to reference, but it doesn't

class BookAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):
    model = Book
    list_display = ['title', 'author__name', ], BookAdmin) (Correct Way) - this is how you reference a foreign key name the Django way

class BookAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):
    model = Book
    list_display = ['title', 'get_name', ]

    def get_name(self, obj):
    get_name.admin_order_field  = 'author'  #Allows column order sorting
    get_name.short_description = 'Author Name'  #Renames column head

    #Filtering on side - for some reason, this works
    #list_filter = ['title', 'author__name'], BookAdmin)

For additional reference, see the Django model link here

Answered by: Connie365 | Posted: 01-03-2022

Answer 3

Like the rest, I went with callables too. But they have one downside: by default, you can't order on them. Fortunately, there is a solution for that:

Django >= 1.8

def author(self, obj):
author.admin_order_field  = 'book__author'

Django < 1.8

def author(self):
author.admin_order_field  = 'book__author'

Answered by: Nicole993 | Posted: 01-03-2022

Answer 4

Please note that adding the get_author function would slow the list_display in the admin, because showing each person would make a SQL query.

To avoid this, you need to modify get_queryset method in PersonAdmin, for example:

def get_queryset(self, request):
    return super(PersonAdmin,self).get_queryset(request).select_related('book')

Before: 73 queries in 36.02ms (67 duplicated queries in admin)

After: 6 queries in 10.81ms

Answered by: Elian263 | Posted: 01-03-2022

Answer 5

For Django >= 3.2

The proper way to do it with Django 3.2 or higher is by using the display decorator

class BookAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):
    model = Book
    list_display = ['title', 'get_author_name']

    @admin.display(description='Author Name', ordering='author__name')
    def get_author_name(self, obj):

Answered by: Luke928 | Posted: 01-03-2022

Answer 6

According to the documentation, you can only display the __unicode__ representation of a ForeignKey:

Seems odd that it doesn't support the 'book__author' style format which is used everywhere else in the DB API.

Turns out there's a ticket for this feature, which is marked as Won't Fix.

Answered by: Connie872 | Posted: 01-03-2022

Answer 7

I just posted a snippet that makes admin.ModelAdmin support '__' syntax:

So you can do:

class PersonAdmin(RelatedFieldAdmin):
    list_display = ['book__author',]

This is basically just doing the same thing described in the other answers, but it automatically takes care of (1) setting admin_order_field (2) setting short_description and (3) modifying the queryset to avoid a database hit for each row.

Answered by: Adrian341 | Posted: 01-03-2022

Answer 8

You can show whatever you want in list display by using a callable. It would look like this:

def book_author(object):

class PersonAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):
  list_display = [book_author,]

Answered by: Catherine446 | Posted: 01-03-2022

Answer 9

There is a very easy to use package available in PyPI that handles exactly that: django-related-admin. You can also see the code in GitHub.

Using this, what you want to achieve is as simple as:

class PersonAdmin(RelatedFieldAdmin):
    list_display = ['book__author',]

Both links contain full details of installation and usage so I won't paste them here in case they change.

Just as a side note, if you're already using something other than model.Admin (e.g. I was using SimpleHistoryAdmin instead), you can do this: class MyAdmin(SimpleHistoryAdmin, RelatedFieldAdmin).

Answered by: Andrew854 | Posted: 01-03-2022

Answer 10

This one's already accepted, but if there are any other dummies out there (like me) that didn't immediately get it from the presently accepted answer, here's a bit more detail.

The model class referenced by the ForeignKey needs to have a __unicode__ method within it, like here:

class Category(models.Model):
    name = models.CharField(max_length=50)

    def __unicode__(self):

That made the difference for me, and should apply to the above scenario. This works on Django 1.0.2.

Answered by: Madaline168 | Posted: 01-03-2022

Answer 11

If you have a lot of relation attribute fields to use in list_display and do not want create a function (and it's attributes) for each one, a dirt but simple solution would be override the ModelAdmin instace __getattr__ method, creating the callables on the fly:

class DynamicLookupMixin(object):
    a mixin to add dynamic callable attributes like 'book__author' which
    return a function that return the value

    def __getattr__(self, attr):
        if ('__' in attr
            and not attr.startswith('_')
            and not attr.endswith('_boolean')
            and not attr.endswith('_short_description')):

            def dyn_lookup(instance):
                # traverse all __ lookups
                return reduce(lambda parent, child: getattr(parent, child),

            # get admin_order_field, boolean and short_description
            dyn_lookup.admin_order_field = attr
            dyn_lookup.boolean = getattr(self, '{}_boolean'.format(attr), False)
            dyn_lookup.short_description = getattr(
                self, '{}_short_description'.format(attr),
                attr.replace('_', ' ').capitalize())

            return dyn_lookup

        # not dynamic lookup, default behaviour
        return self.__getattribute__(attr)

# use examples    

class PersonAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin, DynamicLookupMixin):
    list_display = ['book__author', 'book__publisher__name',

    # custom short description
    book__publisher__country_short_description = 'Publisher Country'

class ProductAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin, DynamicLookupMixin):
    list_display = ('name', 'category__is_new')

    # to show as boolean field
    category__is_new_boolean = True

As gist here

Callable especial attributes like boolean and short_description must be defined as ModelAdmin attributes, eg book__author_verbose_name = 'Author name' and category__is_new_boolean = True.

The callable admin_order_field attribute is defined automatically.

Don't forget to use the list_select_related attribute in your ModelAdmin to make Django avoid aditional queries.

Answered by: Connie798 | Posted: 01-03-2022

Answer 12

if you try it in Inline, you wont succeed unless:

in your inline:

class AddInline(admin.TabularInline):
    readonly_fields = ['localname',]
    model = MyModel
    fields = ('localname',)

in your model (MyModel):

class MyModel(models.Model):
    localization = models.ForeignKey(Localizations)

    def localname(self):

Answered by: Rubie613 | Posted: 01-03-2022

Answer 13

I may be late, but this is another way to do it. You can simply define a method in your model and access it via the list_display as below:

class Person(models.Model):
    book = models.ForeignKey(Book, on_delete=models.CASCADE)

    def get_book_author(self):

class PersonAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):
    list_display = ('get_book_author',)

But this and the other approaches mentioned above add two extra queries per row in your listview page. To optimize this, we can override the get_queryset to annotate the required field, then use the annotated field in our ModelAdmin method

from django.db.models.expressions import F

class PersonAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):
    list_display = ('get_author',)
    def get_queryset(self, request):
        queryset = super().get_queryset(request)
        queryset = queryset.annotate(
            _author = F('book__author')
        return queryset

    @admin.display(ordering='_author', description='Author')
    def get_author(self, obj):
        return obj._author

Answered by: Carlos864 | Posted: 01-03-2022

Answer 14

AlexRobbins' answer worked for me, except that the first two lines need to be in the model (perhaps this was assumed?), and should reference self:

def book_author(self):

Then the admin part works nicely.

Answered by: John440 | Posted: 01-03-2022

Answer 15

I prefer this:

class CoolAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):
    list_display = ('pk', 'submodel__field')

    def submodel__field(obj):
        return obj.submodel.field

Answered by: Tara358 | Posted: 01-03-2022

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