You will hear this word repeatedly while working in SharePoint. Everything revolves around Content Types, in fact you have been using them since you started. Content Types are basically a way of
grouping Site Columns together into a
reusable group that
represents some kind of content to us. For example I could group the Site Columns Invoice #, Customer and Related Product together into an "Invoice Content Type". This way every time I go to a document library that would need to use these I would just assign the Invoice Content Type to it.
By default when you create a Content Type, just like Site Columns, it is pushed to all sub sites of the designated site where it was created.
A Content Type can only exist within a Site Collection, if you want to reuse it in another site collection, you will have to recreate it in the other site collection.
What did I mean by you have been using them since you started with SharePoint? Well, how do you think your "Announcement list" or "Task list" got their columns? Magic? Simple, someone at Microsoft created a few Site Columns that make sense for each of them like "Task Name", "Start Date" and "Due Date" and grouped them together calling it a "Task" Content Type. When you create a Task list, it simply creates an empty list and associates the Task Content Type to it.
Still don't understand? Take any list or library in SharePoint and do the following....
List or Library settings
By default, SharePoint hides the use of Content Types to the general User and Power User so that it doesn't confuse them by giving them too many options.
Allow the management of content types
By clicking on
OK and returning to that list or libraries settings you will see a new section below the General Settings. You will notice all the associated Content Types to the list and the necessary options to manage them.
When you're first starting to learn SharePoint and Content Types, it takes a while to realize that when you associate a Content Type to a list or library, it is copied to it. This means that
if you edit the Content Type from the List or Library settings menu, it will only affect that List or Library. The original Content Type will stay untouched in the Content Type Gallery of the site it was created in. In most cases, this happens to be the top site. So if I follow the steps above for our Task list with the Task Content Type and "Remove" the Assigned To column from the Task Content Type, it will only affect this specific Task List.
Content Types can be much more than just a way of grouping together Site Columns, it also offers some basic settings to be attached to that grouping. For example, you can associate a document template to your Content Type. Taking the previous example, you could associate a blank invoice template to your Invoice Content Type so that each library using that Content Type would also have the template. Many other settings can be configured per Content Types.
You can't just create a Content Type anywhere to be used with anything, there are no "wildcard" Content Types in SharePoint. Some of these come with SharePoint and are at the top of the tree like "Item" and "Document". It's not for no reason that SharePoint asks you create a New "Item" when you are in a list and to Upload "Document" in a library. These are not just words they have written in the page, those are the names of the Content Types used.
When you create your Content Type, you have to choose under which Parent Content Type you will want to create it. This will make it inherit the Site Columns associated with the Parent Content Type as well.
For example, if I create an Invoice Content Type that inherits from the Document Content Type, It will automatically have the column "Title" with your Invoice Content Type. And this is only because "Document" inherits himself from "Item" as a Content Type.
To create a new content type, go to
Site Settings >
Site Content Types
Here are the questions you are asked when creating a Content
If you create your Content Type under the “Item” Content Type, then it will be available to all SharePoint lists but no Libraries. And Vice Versa if you create it under “Document” then it will not be available for any Lists.
Above is a quick view of the Hierarchy of some of the Content Types you may recognize in SharePoint 2013.
Advantages of Content Types:
Disadvantages of Content Types:
With SharePoint, there are not necessarily any "golden rules" to follow. It always depends on a few factors, some may be more important to you than others given the situation.
It may be easier to show Users how to create regular list or library columns to increase User Adoption in the project. End Users might feel like they have more control over their site. They will probably be a lot faster into creating their own lists and libraries to manage their content. However, when the time comes to update a configuration or migrate information in a column it could be a challenge and cost just as much time as you saved at first.
(back to Site Owner Help)
First create your list (let's call it 'Employee List')
If you don't know how to create a list, click here
You can see that if you were going to create a new item, you only have a choice of one type of generic item:
And if you click on that New Item:
For this example, let's say you have different TYPES of Employees…Hourly Employees and Salary Employees.
Go to List Settings
Advanced Settings > Allow management of Content Types
Name your type of Employee and choose
List Content Types >
Item (for a list)
Now you need to add some site columns to your content type.
You can choose from already existing site columns
Then add the rest of your site columns
Next you'll need to associate this new content type with this list. Go to
List Settings. In the Content Types Section, click Add from existing site content types
And find the content type you just created and click
Now when you go to your list and click New Item, you have 2 different types to choose from
If you choose the regular/basic 'Item':
But if you choose your new Hourly Employee:
So, now you need to create your Salaried Employee Content Type.
Site Settings >
Site content types >
Add your columns
Then associate the Salary Employee with the Employee List.
Employee List >
List Settings >
Add from existing content types
Now when you create a new item, you have 3 types to choose from
Currently the default is still set to 'Item'
So if you click on
+ new item
It will open up the basic item type
But that can be changed in the List settings. For this example, we just want the two types of employees, so we're going to 'get rid of' the basic
List Settings. Under Content Types, click on
Change new button order and default content type
Make Item not visible and you can change the order. Then click
The 'Title' field doesn't really fit in this example. You can't DELETE the title field, but you can HIDE it.
Site Settings >
Site Content Types. Click on the 'HourlyEmployee Content Type
And choose the ‘Hidden’ option and click
Then do the same for the SalaryEmployee. Now when you click on a New Hourly Employee or a new Salary Employee, the
Title field does not show
if you were to add some employees (a few of each different type), it would look like this:
You could create a view for each of the different types:
List Settings >
So, then you could see the information based on what you want to see.
Name the page and click
Add a web part to the page (Insert >
Web Part >
Employee List Web Part >
On the far right, click
Edit Web Part
Now you’ll have to add another web part and do the same as above except for Hourly Employees.
When complete, push
Save to save the page
(back to Site Owner Help)