Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is one of the main use cases for SharePoint 2013, and an important part of running a successful ECM platform is creating and managing content types. Content types not only describe the data that is being used, but they also give the ability to create workflows and information policies to those content types. If you’ve been learning about content types in SharePoint 2013, and you’re ready to begin building one, then you’ve come to the right place! In this article, I’m going to show you how to create a custom content type in SharePoint 2013 and add a site column to the content type.
Planning Content Type in SharePoint 2013
What you want your content type to do, and how you want to use it will guide you in the creation of your content type. Keep in mind that no content type is an island – every content type is placed in a hierarchy and inherits properties and columns from its parent type.
Content Type Parent
For the purpose of this article on creating a SharePoint 2013 content type, I will use an Office Supply Request content type. But even with a simple content type like this, I could easily choose several different methods to approach this problem. I could create a content type that is a document, like a Word or Excel file. I could create a form to be filled in with InfoPath. I also have the option of making the content type that will be an individual item in a list.
What approach works best for you has a lot to do with the way you want to work with the lists. Do you want “line item veto” on your purchase requests? Then maybe every item would need approval. If you want to minimize the workflow approval steps and make it easy to print out lists to take to the store, then maybe a Word document template would be appropriate. Finally, if you wanted to make it easy to fill out the requests from the website, then perhaps an online form content type would suit your needs.
You’re in control, so experiment and find the method that best solves your problem.
Content Type Columns
Identify the pieces of information that your content type will use and in what format those pieces of information will be kept. There are a lot of options, from numbers or single lines of text to lookup choices from other lists from within SharePoint.
Create New Content Type
- To create a new content type, select Site Settings from the Site Actions menu (the gear icon in the upper right).
- At the Site Settings page, you’ll find the Site Content Types under the Web Designer Galleries section heading. Click the Site Content Types link to open the Content Type gallery.
At the Site Content Types gallery, you can browse the list of all of the content types currently available for your site. Some of your sites may have different site content types available to it. That is because the built-in content types are made available to certain site templates and some are made available due to features that are enabled.
You can see that the content types are separated out into groups. When you create a content type, you can add it into one of the existing groups or create a new one.
- Click Create to make a new content type.
- Assign a name and description to your site content type. Even if you’re sure the name describes the content type perfectly well, it’s a good idea to add a little detail in the description field for other users or the future you that comes back in several weeks not remembering exactly what the purpose of the content type was.
- You’ll also need to decide what kind of content type you are going to create. Choose the main category of content types from the Select Parent Content Type from the drop-down, and then select the specific Parent Content Type from the drop-down below it. The first drop-down includes choices like document, list, and folder types. The second choice allows more specific refinements, like distinguishing between documents and picture content types.
- Add the content type to an existing group or create a new group. By default, your content types will be assigned into a group called Custom Content Types.
Add Columns to the New Content Type
No matter which content type you chose as your parent type, you’ll now have a set of columns inherited from that parent. Most of the time you’ll want to add new site columns to your content type to further distinguish it from its parent.
- Once you’ve created your site column, click Add from new site column under the Columns section for your content type.
Site columns, just like content types, are inherited by children in the site hierarchy. So often it makes sense to create both your site columns and your content types at the root of a site collection. However, that’s not a hard rule, just a reminder to place your columns and content types as high up in the site structure as needed to be used across your sites.
Now that you’ve gotten your site content type created, you’ll be able to create information policies for it, configure workflows that take place around this content type, and assign the content type to a list or library. If it’s a document content type, you’ll even be able to assign a Word or Excel template just for the content type.
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