SharePoint Site Columns – Best Explained

Hello friends, in my 3 years of journey with SharePoint, I have never used SharePoint site columns. SharePoint provides the lightning fast way for creating list columns, which makes us lazy to learn about site columns. In this article, I will try to explain about SharePoint site columns in details. This applies to all versions of SharePoint like SharePoint 2010, 2013 and SharePoint Online (Office 365).

It takes a few seconds to create list columns
It takes a few seconds to create list columns

SharePoint Site Columns

According to Microsoft, “A site column is a reusable column definition, or template, that you can assign to multiple lists across multiple SharePoint sites. Site columns are useful if your organization wants to establish some consistent settings across lists and libraries.”

Why should we use SharePoint Site Columns?

Scenario:

Assume that your organization has a SharePoint portal which has 20 different lists. Each list contains a choice column named a country with 3 options as India, America, and England. later point of time, if you want to add one more country as China in the option for all the lists, what will you do? The only way available for you is to add that new option in each list manually from list settings.

In such scenarios, Site columns play an important role. Site columns allow you to share the changes/settings across multiple lists so that you don’t have to configure the settings each time. Site columns provide one more advantage to you, whenever you make any changes in site columns, it provides an option whether to apply the new changes to all the lists (which are using that particular site column) or not.

When you update the site column, it will ask whether to apply the changes on all lists which are using the particular site column
When you update the site column, it will ask whether to apply the changes on all lists which are using the particular site column.

How to Create a Site Column in SharePoint?

Before creating a Site Column you should make note of below important points

  1. It’s a best practice to create a Site Column under the root site (top site) so that it can be used under all subsites as well. This is again based on the requirements of the organization because users don’t want to have too many site columns under the root sites, which are not useful.
  2. If you create a Site Column in a subsite, you cant use that site column in your root site.
  3. When you update the site column, it’s your wish whether to apply the updates on existing lists or not (this point is already explained above).
  4. If you delete the site column, it won’t be deleted automatically from all the lists. You have to delete the site columns specifically from all the lists.

let’s see how to create a SharePoint site column:

  1. Go to Site Settings
  2. Click on Site columns under Web Designer Galleries
  3. Click on Create

  4. In the Name and Type section, type the name that you want in the Column name box. In this case we are creating a site column named Country.
  5. Choose the appropriate the column type like Singe line of text, Lookup, etc. In this case, Choice (India, America, and England)
  6. In the Group section, add this new Site column under existing groups or create a new one. Categorizing columns into groups will make it easier for users to find them in the future. In this case, we are adding this site column to a group named Custom Columns.
  7. Click on OK.

This way we are ready with the new site column, which can be used in all lists under the specified sites or subsites.

How to add site columns to existing SharePoint List or Library

Let’s add the newly created site column to the existing list. We have a list named EmployeeDetails where we are going to add a Site Column named Country which was added in Custom Columns group.

  1. Go to list settings
  2. Click on add from existing site columns

  3. Choose group so that it will be easy to find the custom site column. Then choose the site column name and click on Add
  4. Click on OK and we are ready to use this site column in our list.

How to update/delete site columns in SharePoint?

  1. Go to Site Settings
  2. Click on Site columns under Web Designer Galleries
  3. Click on Site Column name
  4. Update the site column and click OK or if you want to delete the column, click on Delete button.

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