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To create a content type, you need to go to your Site Actions and down to Site Settings. It's best to be at the top-level site of your site collection, because if you define your content type there, it will be available to any site in that site collection. So, look in the Galleries section here. Again, a gallery is where you must put something if you wanted to be on display. So, we're putting content types here so they can be used across our site collection. So, I'll click that one, and what we're looking at now is the content types that exist out-of-the-box when SharePoint is installed.
Yours might look a little bit different from mine, because this can depend on the license that you have. We have things like audio and image and video. The key one here, the one that I almost wish could be highlighted because it's so much more common than the others is the Document content type. In fact, this is pretty close to what we want. This is what we've been using all along if we've been uploading documents into any document library. It's really the idea of an attachment with a title and some tracked information, such as when it was created and when it was last modified.
Really what I want is something very close to that, but with a bit of extra information. What I'm going to do is define a content type for legal documents that come through my system, so say legal contracts. So, I'm going to go up to the top and click Create. Create a new site content type. I'll call it Legal Document instead of just document. Now, it's going to ask, what is the parent content type? This is a really good thing. It lets us take the thing that's closest to what we want and say "base it on that." In fact, we're looking for the Document content type called Document.
In fact, this is so common that I almost wish that this was the default one that was already selected. So, we call it Legal Document, and it's based on the existing Document content type. It looks good! Then there is a choice down here, where do we want this to show up in our long list of content types? Do we want to put it in a group called Custom Content Types, or do you want to even make a new group? So, I could create my own group here. I don't need to. I am right now not going to create so many content types that I'm going to lose track. So, I'll just put them into the Custom Content Types group. Click OK.
It's now created, but so what? Well, what we're seeing here is that this Site content type seems to have a lot of settings to it. What's it called, what's it grouped in, does it have workflow settings, information panel settings, information management policy settings? But here's the first and most primary information. What is it? What do we keep? What we store about this content type? Because I based it on Document, right now we're just storing this name of a file attachment and a title. Well, I want a little more.
I want to store things like the date it was received. I want to store the status of this document. I want to store the legal attorney that this has been assigned to. So, what I can do is add columns. Now, my choices here are Add from existing site columns and Add from a new site column. If I click Add from existing site columns, what you'll actually see is the collection of columns that have been defined by Microsoft and just exist out there for pretty much any site collection, things like Anniversary, Assistant's Name, there's lot of fairly useful ones, Callback Number, Category.
You can define your own site columns. It really means just defining a column that's available on any list or library in this entire site or even indeed this site collection. However, that's not what I need. I don't think it's going to exist, because I haven't defined the column. So, I'm going to select the second option here, which is Add from a new site column, meaning create that new column and then add it to this content type. So, I'll select that. It's going to ask me to give it a column name. I'm going to call it Date Received. It's going to ask me what kind of information that is.
That's going to be a Date and Time. Because I select that, it now asks me to say a bit more information. Is it Date Only or Date & Time? It's Date Only. I'll have a default value of today's date would be fine. Do I want to update content types inheriting from this? Well, nobody is using it yet, so this is okay. Click OK. So, now I have Date Received added. I'm going to add another column. This one will be the Current Status, which I'll make a choice.
Again, the choice here would be up to you, but I'll say that within my organization, when we get these documents in, they have a status of Received, In Review, In Litigation, these are completely up to me, Won, Lost, and Abandoned. I'm going to display those using a drop-down menu. So, these are my choices. Of course, this can be changed a little later, if I want to. Click OK, and then finally very quickly, I'll add one more site column that represents the Assigned Lawyer, which will also be a choice.
I'll have the lawyers be the good old team of Dewey, Cheatham, and Howe, and click OK. So, we now have a content type defined. I'm not going to go any further than this. I'm not going to define custom workflow on this at this moment or custom information management policy. Know that you can do that and it's found in the same place in your Content Type gallery. I'm just going to show how do we start to use these? Just because I've defined a content type does not mean it's instantly available on any library in any list in this site.
I have to then say, well, hey, I want to actually use it. So, I'm going to go back to my top level of the team site here and I could add this to my Shared Documents library. Well, let's say I'll just make a new document library. I'll call it Legal Stuff. There is nothing special about the name. And click Create. What I want to do is make sure that when I'm creating something new in this library, when I say upload a document or create a new document that instead of a generic document, I'm using that new content type.
So, how do I do that? Well, not surprisingly, this is going to be part of the Library Settings. If I click on Library Settings, now what I look at here, I don't see the word content type anywhere. I see a bunch of General Settings, I see Columns, I see Views. So, there is nothing obvious there, because they have kind of hidden it one level deeper. It's the third option here. We have to go into Advanced settings. There are actually two stages to it. One, I have to tell SharePoint, yes, I want to use my own content types, and two, I have to then tell it what content type I want to use.
So, clicking on Advanced settings, it's this first option here. Allow management of content types? Yes. Click Yes, ignore all of the rest, click OK. You might think, "well, what did that just do?" Where did we tell it we're using the legal contract one? Well, we didn't. But what it does do now is now in our Document Library Settings we have this section that wasn't here before called Content Types. It's actually saying well, right now, this document library is configured to allow multiple content types. It doesn't use multiple content types, but it allows that.
So, it's saying right now I'm only using the content type of Document. I can add from existing site content types. So, here's what I select. I now go and find my Legal Document. If I couldn't find that, I might break that down a little bit and go into my Custom Content Types group. Oh, there we go. It's a bit more obvious. Click Add. Click OK. Now, we're saying I both allow Document and Legal Document. They both have this checkmark that says they're visible on the New button and the document is still the default content type.
What does that mean? What it actually means is if I go back to that document library, I go to my Documents Ribbon and say New Document, I should get a choice. Either create a new Document, new generic one, or create a new Legal Document with all that information attached. If I select Create a New Legal Document, it opens up Word as I might expect, but notice even though I'm using the generic blank Word document, that opens up what's called the Document Information panel here, where I get my title, but the new stuff that I added, the date received with the default date of today, the current status of the different choices that I have, and the assigned lawyer on this.
I'll give it a title. Put some content in there and save this. Change the title of the file, and save that in there. That's considered to be a new content type. If I wanted to, I could also select that document and by checking Edit Properties or even just View Properties, we'll get all that extra metadata that's been defined on the content type. Notice how here, I could even if I accidentally created the wrong type, I could change it from one to the other.
Well, let's say, for example, that I don't even want a choice. I want this to always be Legal Document. I'm going to go back into my Library Settings, come down to the Content Types section, say that I want to change the new button order and the default content type. I don't want Document visible. Click OK. Now, back in this library, the only example that I'm going to have when I create a new document is a new Legal Document. The great thing is this. Because we've defined that information as part of the content type, then if we move this document from one library to another, the metadata goes with it.
In earlier versions of SharePoint, the only way you could save some of this extra data was to define new columns on the library itself. The problem is what happens if you move stuff from one library to another? You could end up losing that extra information. With this, defining content types allows that data to stay packaged up with the document at all times. Now, going back into my Site Actions > Site Settings, to go back to that Content Type gallery. Something that you should explore is all the extra options. I can go back in and change this Legal Document.
I could redefine what the choices mean, if I want to do that. Now, that won't change anything existing that you've created with this. So, do be careful when you do that. But there are things, for example, in the Advanced Settings of this, you could upload a new document template. So, you might create a Word document with a cover sheet and just upload that, meaning that when anybody now creates a new version of a Legal Document, they get not the blank Word document, but the one with the cover sheet and all the extra information that's been stored in the metadata.
You can change workflow and actually add your own workflows that just apply to documents of this content type, and you can even attach things like information management policy which controls auditing and expiration, who creates these documents, who looks at them, who even looks at their properties, how long do they last for, six months after they're last edited, do we do something with them? So, the power of content types is pretty substantial inside SharePoint. In fact, many of the more advanced features are based on the idea that you've already defined several content types in your site collections.
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