what is a report library in sharepoint

What is a document library?

A document library provides a secure place to store files where you and your co-workers can find them easily, work on them together, and access them from any device at any time. For example, you can use a document library on a site in SharePoint to store all files related to a specific project or a specific client. Adding files or moving files between folders is as easy as dragging and dropping them from one location to another.

A thumbnail view of a document library with nothing selected.

Note:  Does your screen look different than this? Your administrator may have classic experience set on the document library. If so, see Introduction to libraries . If you're a document library owner, site owner, or administrator, see Switch the default experience for document libraries from new or classic for the steps to set the default experience.

Note:  Some features are currently only available in classic experience. Click Return to classic SharePoint in the bottom, left corner of the page to switch to classic experience.

The default site in SharePoint and SharePoint Server 2019 includes a document library and one is created automatically when you create a new site. You can add additional document libraries to a site as needed. This is useful, for example, if you need to restrict access to a set of files. Each document library displays a list of files, folders, and key information about each, such as who created or last modified a file. You can use this information to organize your files and make it easier to find them.

In a document library, you can:

Add, edit , delete a file, folder, or link from a SharePoint document library , co-author, and download documents.

Control who has access to a library, a folder with in a library, or an individual file within a library.

Track the activity on a file , such as when it was last modified, and receive a notification when something has changed.

Create a custom view of a document library

Share files or folders with others .

Add a link in a document library to something that is stored outside the library, for example, a link to a file located in a different library or even a link to an external web page.

Highlight a link, file or folder in a document library so you and others can get to them quickly.

Let's take a look around

At the top left of the document library page is the main menu.

SharePoint Onine Document Library menu

Here you can create a new folder, document, or a link to something that is located outside the document library,

Office 365 Create a new folder or document

Note:  The list of document types will vary depending on your permissions and how your site was set up.

or upload a folder or files .

Office 365 Upload files or folder to a document library

Note:  Folders are not currently supported by Internet Explorer.

You can also sync files with the new OneDrive sync app or create an alert to receive a notification when something has changed.

At the top right of the document library page, click View options to change the document library view to List, Compact, Tiles view. If using Internet Explorer, you can open the document library in Windows File Explorer, by clicking View in File Explorer . You can also save a custom view by clicking Save view as or, if you are a library owner or administrator, you can edit or create views on the library settings page by clicking Edit current view .

Office 365 Change document library view

When you select a folder or file, the menu at the top left of the document library changes to a list of actions you can perform on that folder or file.

A selected file shows change in document library menu

Note:  To expose the file or folder menu when in thumbnail view, click the top right corner of the thumbnail.

Office 365 Document library list ellipses

Ready to start?

Here are some additional help articles to get you going:

Work with files in a document library

Create a folder in a document library

Create a new file in a document library

View and edit information about a file, folder, or link in a document library

Storage space allowances and other software limits in SharePoint

When should I use a document library instead of OneDrive for work or school?

See Should I save files to OneDrive or SharePoint? to learn the best place to store your files.


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what is a report library in sharepoint

4 types of document libraries in SharePoint

Did you know that there are different types of libraries in SharePoint? With this post, I would like to explain what they are.

Document Library

The first one I will talk about is a regular document library. It is the same library you get by default as part of every single SharePoint site. It is the same document library you get when you click Add an App > Document Library . It is where you store documents in SharePoint. I blogged a lot about it before, here is one of the links.

types of document libraries in SharePoint

Picture Library

Another document library we have is called the Picture library . You guessed it – it is a special document library for images/photos. What makes it different from a regular document library is that it by default displays files (images) in thumbnail view – which makes sense. It also contains some built-in image specific metadata like date picture was taken, etc. I have written a separate   post (Option 2) on it and highlighted its various advantages.


This is how picture library appears by default


Default metadata for Picture Library files (images)

Site Assets Library

There is another library you get by default on every single SharePoint site. It is called a Site Assets library . It is used to store all the content and files necessary for a SharePoint site to function properly (i.e. Logos, OneNote notebook, etc.). It is not a library where you will store working files and content. The library is sort of a dumping ground for everything you used to build your site – things are added to it automatically as you do this. Check out this post to learn more about the Site Assets library .

types of document libraries in SharePoint

Site Pages Library

There is another library that exists in SharePoint. As you probably already guessed from its name, it is a special library for pages! All the pages you modify or create as part of your SharePoint site – they are all stored in here. To get a better understanding of the difference between a site and a page – click  here . You can’t upload any documents into this library.


How to access or add new document libraries?

To see what you got on your site or to add new libraries, click Gear Icon > Site contents


You will then see something that looks like the image below.


Technically speaking, there are other types of libraries that exist, but they are used on very rare occasions and usually are just used for very specific purposes/types of sites. Let’s keep our life simple, shall we?

what is a report library in sharepoint

I’m Greg Zelfond, a U.S. based SharePoint consultant, and I provide affordable out-of-the-box SharePoint consulting, training, and configuration assistance to small and medium-sized businesses all over the world.

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what is a report library in sharepoint

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Cloud solutions, project solutions, it and web solutions.

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></center></p><h2>Four ways to Get Report of SharePoint Folders and Files for a Library</h2><ul><li>February 11, 2015</li><li>2010 , 2013 , PowerShell , SharePoint , SQL Queries</li></ul><p>Version: 1.0</p><p>You might have many layers of folders insides folders and files insides those folders in a SharePoint Library. How to get a quick report of folders and files for a single Document Library?</p><p>There are different ways to get that information:</p><p>a. Using Generate File Plan Report Feature of Document Library b. Using Mapped Drive with Dir Command c. Using SQL Query d. Using Power Shell</p><h2>a. Using Generate File Plan Report Feature of Document Library</h2><p>SharePoint has a feature in Document Library called ‘Generate File Plan Report’. Follow the steps below:</p><p>1. Go to a document library for which you need to get the list of folders and files 2. Go to Library > Library Settings 3. Click on ‘ Generate File Plan Report ‘ under Permissions and Management</p><p>5. On next page, Save location field will default to the same library. That is the place where the system will generate and save the report file. Click Ok 6. Report will be generated and you will see a link on next page. Click on the page to open the report in MS Excel</p><p>7. Click OK and you will back to the Document Library. You can locate the file in the same library or to a place you picked in step 5</p><p>Example Report File</p><h2>b. Using Mapped Drive with Dir Command</h2><p>The above report doesn’t show you the folders and files that are inside those folders. It just reports the Total # of items at each folder layer.</p><p>To get the full hierarchy of folders including files inside each level of hierarchy, you need to switch back to basics. My 1992 study of  Peter Norton’s Dos Guide came to rescue from here.</p><p>1. Copy the URL http://sharepoint.svlab.com/sites/biz1/project1/ProjectsDocLib/                                [notice I removed .aspx view file and form folder that contains the view pages] 2. Map an available drive letter on your PC say W: and use the above URL 3. Open a command prompt and go to W: drive 4. Use the command dir /s > c:FilesFolders.txt</p><p>You can add /b switch to get rid of file / folder details and just get the files / folder names. dir /s /b > c:FileFolders.txt</p><p>5. Open the txt file and you will see the folders and files in hierarchical structure 6. Make sure to disconnect the W: drive.</p><p>Navigating using Windows Explorer with SharePoint is not the fastest way to work with SharePoint.</p><h2>c. Using SQL Query</h2><p>You can use the SQL query to get the list of files and folders. Run at your own risk in a pre-production system .</p><p>— Query to list Files and Folders within Sites — By Faisal Masood SELECT  Webs.Title AS ‘WebApp’, AllLists.tp_Title AS ‘ListName’, AllDocs.DirName AS ‘URL’, AllDocs.LeafName AS ‘FileName’, AllDocs.ExtensionForFile AS ‘FileType’, AllDocs.TimeCreated FROM AllDocs  JOIN AllLists ON AllLists.tp_ID = AllDocs.ListId JOIN AllDocStreams ON AllDocStreams.Id = AllDocs.Id JOIN Webs ON Webs.Id = AllLists.tp_WebId WHERE — Webs.Title LIKE ‘%SharePoint Company Sitet%’ AND AllDocs.DirName like ‘documents%’ –AND AllDocs.TimeCreated > ‘2010-05-10 00:00:00.000’ ORDER BY Webs.Title</p><h2>c. Using Power Shell</h2><p>PowerShell might be the best option to get customized report with selective information. The PowerShell code below will get show all documents under a document library names that has Documents in name and that are under site sharepoint.svlab.com site.</p><p># List Files and Folders under a Documents Library # By: Faisal Masood – PMP, MCSE, MCITP, MCSA #Add SharePoint PowerShell SnapIn if not already added  if ((Get-PSSnapin “Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell” -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue) -eq $null) {     Add-PSSnapin “Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell” } # http://sharepoint.svlab.com/ Get-SPWeb http://sharepoint.svlab.com/ |   Select -ExpandProperty Lists |     Where { $_.GetType().Name -eq “SPDocumentLibrary” -and             -not $_.Hidden } |     Select -ExpandProperty Items |     Where { $_.Url -like “*Documents*” } |     Select Name, {$_.File.Length}, url</p><p>Download .ps1 PowerShell Script File</p><ul><li>get report of files and folders in SharePoint</li><li>report folders and files in SharePoint</li><li>Four ways to get Files Folder structure</li><li>SQL query to get Files Folder structure</li><li>PowerShell to Files Folder structure</li></ul><h2>4 Responses</h2><p>If I exceed the list view limit of 5,000 items will this not work?</p><p>@Steve SharePoint uses that 5000 item limit as default threshold. My guess is a, b and d options to get report will not work in that case. Option C using SQL query should work though.</p><h2>Leave a Reply Cancel reply</h2><p>You must be logged in to post a comment.</p><h2>Sign up for Softvative Newsletter</h2><p>Share on social media, our services and solutions.</p><p>Softvative Inc. was built on the principles of providing innovative solutions, quality products and reliable services. We deliver clients’ success by paying close attention to their business needs, following the latest trends in technology and applying industry best practices to develop optimal solutions.</p><h2>Our Location</h2><p>Get notified about new articles and deals</p><h2>Subscribe To Softvative Newsletter</h2><ul><li>What is a document library in SharePoint</li></ul><p>This SharePoint tutorial explains, what is a document library in SharePoint 2013? what are various out of box library templates in SharePoint 2013/2016/Online? How to create a document library in SharePoint Online ?</p><p>We will see how to upload documents into a document library, quick edit documents, edit document properties, check-in and check out a document in SharePoint 2013 document library.</p><p>Also, we will see how to work with versions in a document library, check version history, restore the previous version of a document, how to follow, document and delete a document from a document library in SharePoint.</p><p>Table of Contents</p><p>SharePoint document libraries are a special kind of list which are used to store documents. Each file is known as an item in the document library in SharePoint.</p><p>We can use document libraries to store documents on the SharePoint site so that other employees can find and work with and should be able to access it from any device.</p><p>Unlike the list which is used to store data, libraries are used to store files. Like the list, libraries will also have metadata which will be helpful to find, sort, filter, and group items in the document libraries.</p><p>Whenever you will create a site using Team site template , by default it will add a Document library known as Documents.</p><ul><li>Out of box document libraries in SharePoint</li></ul><p>SharePoint provides various templates for document libraries likes: Document Library, Form Library, Wiki Page Library, Picture Library , Asset Library, Data Connection Library, Report Library, etc. You can create various libraries using the above templates.</p><ul><li>Document Library – A place for strong documents or other files that you want to share. Document libraries allow folders, versioning, and check out.</li><li>Asset Library – A place to share, browse and manage rich media assets, like images, audio and video files.</li><li>Picture Library – A place to upload and share pictures.</li><li>Report Library – A place where you can easily create and manage web pages and documents to track metrics, goals, and business intelligence information.</li><li>Slide Library – Create a slide library when you want to share slides from Microsoft Office PowerPoint, or a compatible application. Slide libraries also provide special features for finding, managing, and reusing slides.</li><li>Wiki Page Library – An interconnected set of easily editable web pages, which can contain text, images, and web parts.</li><li>Data Connection Library – A place where you can easily share files that contain information about external data connections.</li><li>Form Library – A place to manage business forms like status reports or purchase orders. Form libraries require a compatible XML editor, such as Microsoft InfoPath. (To be covered in Infopath chapter)</li><li>Create Document Library in SharePoint</li></ul><p>Now, we will see how to create a document library in SharePoint Online or SharePoint 2013/2016/2019.</p><p>To create a document library, Open your SharePoint 2016 site and then click on the gear icon and then click on Add an app like below:</p><p><center><img style=

Then from Your Apps page, you can select the document library template from the available templates.

document library in sharepoint online

Then it will ask for a name for the document library and click on Create .

how to create a document library in sharepoint 2013

Once it is created successfully, the Site Contents page will open and the document library will be available there.

how to create a document library in sharepoint 2016

Click on the Document library name to open the SharePoint document library.

By default the document library will look like below:

create a document library in sharepoint office 365

Also, read some SharePoint online tutorials:

To upload a document to a document library in SharePoint , click on the Upload button which will open the “Add a document” dialog box like below:

sharepoint 2013 document library

Once you click on OK , it will show the progress as well like below:

sharepoint online create document library

You can also drag and drop files to upload a document to the SharePoint document library . Simply drag and drop like below:

document library sharepoint online

We can add additional columns to the SharePoint document library. To add a column from Ribbon click on the LIBRARY tab and then click on Create Column like below:

Add column to document library sharepoint 2013

This will open the Create Column dialog box like below. Give a name, choose a type for column, Description. Few sections will change based on the data type you select. Here we will try to add a choice column.

To add choices to the choices column, go to “Type each choice on a separate line” section and add the options in a separate line.

Read another SharePoint tutorial:

The choice options can appear in Drop-down list, Radio buttons or Checkboxes. Choose the option from Display Choices using section.

SharePoint online document library add choice column

In the default value section, you can select the option in the Default Value section. Various other options will appear when you will click on the ECB menu which looks like below:

sharepoint document library examples

The above options are specific to documents.

We can edit the SharePoint document properties by using the Quick Edit button which is available in the ribbon. Here you can edit like datasheet view.

sharepoint 2013 document library quick edit

Once edit over click on the Stop editing this list button which will Save the changes.

sharepoint 2013 document library quick edit

You can click on the document name to edit the document in SharePoint. It may ask you to enter credentials like below:

Edit document in sharepoint online document library

Once you modify the document, Click on the Save icon to Save the document and then close the document.

sharepoint document library edit document

To edit document properties, click on the ECB menu and then click on “Properties” like below:

Edit document properties sharepoint online

Then it will open the Edit Properties windows. Modify and Save the changes.

sharepoint 2013 document library edit document properties

Check in and check out is a good feature in SharePoint. When you check out a file, you lock the file for editing to prevent other users from editing the file at the same time. When you have finished editing the file, you check the file back in, allowing other users to edit the file.

sharepoint 2013 document library check out document

Also, you can check out the document from the ECB menu like below:

SharePoint online document library check in document

Once you check out a file, a check out symbol will appear like below:

Check out document in sharepoint online document library

After modification, you can check in the document, so that the changes will be available to other users. Select the document and then from the ribbon, go to the FILES tab and then click on Check-in.

sharepoint document library file size limit

In the Check in the dialog box, it will ask for if you want to Retain your check out after checking in? And also it will add Comments like below:

sharepoint document library check in and check out

When versioning is enabled, SharePoint Foundation 2013 creates a separate copy of the document each time it is edited. Although this takes up extra space on the server, it also makes it easy to revert to an older version of the document if necessary.

You can keep major versions only, or major and minor versions. Major versions are whole numbers such as 1, 2, 3, and so on. Minor versions are decimals such as 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, and on. A major version number is associated with a version that has been published. A minor version number is associated with a version that is in progress but is not yet published.

You can individually see the versions of a particular document. Select an individual document and then click on the Version History button in the ribbon which will open the Version History dialog box with all the versions of the document.

sharepoint 2013 document library version history

To restore any previous version, click on version and then click on Restore as shown in the fig below:

sharepoint 2013 document library restore previous version history

You can follow, download and delete a document from the buttons available in the Ribbon (FILES) tab in the document library.

sharepoint 2013 document library follow document

Settings up alert are the same as setting up an alert for the list which you can check out: Setting up Alerts in SharePoint Online list .

SharePoint 2013 includes the ability to follow documents to track their updates in your newsfeed. Whereas setting an alert for document changes keeps you notified of specific changes on a predefined frequency via email or SMS, following a document adds a link to this document in your newsfeed and provides notifications of all document changes via your newsfeed.

In addition, people who are following you will get a newsfeed notification that you’re following this document, provided that they have appropriate permissions to access it. All documents that you follow are shown in one place in your newsfeed, in the list of followed documents.

Below are a few points you should remember about SharePoint document library.

You must check out this item before making changes. Do you want to check out this item now?

Recently one of my clients said, in one of the document library in SharePoint Online, it is asking to check out before modification, but in another document library it is not asking. The message it is showing as “ You must check out this item before making changes. Do you want to check out this item now? ” It shows like below:

You must check out this item before making changes. Do you want to check out this item now?

We need to change the Require Check Out option. For this: Open document library settings page and then click on Versioning settings which is under General Settings .

you must check out this item before making changes

Then in the Versioning Settings page, go to the “ Require Check Out ” option and choose “No” for “ Require documents to be checked out before they can be edited? “. It should look like below:

require documents to be checked out before they can be edited

After this setting, it will not ask to check out the file before modification. This is how to fix the error, You must check out this item before making changes. Do you want to check out this item now?

You may like following SharePoint document library tutorial:

In this SharePoint tutorial, we learned how to work with SharePoint document library. We discussed the below things:

Bijay Kumar

I am Bijay a Microsoft MVP (8 times –  My MVP Profile ) in SharePoint and have more than 15 years of expertise in SharePoint Online Office 365, SharePoint subscription edition, and SharePoint 2019/2016/2013. Currently working in my own venture TSInfo Technologies a SharePoint development, consulting, and training company. I also run the popular SharePoint website EnjoySharePoint.com

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Nov 27, 2019

A beginner’s guide to SharePoint metadata

One of the most powerful features in SharePoint is metadata. If you’ve ever attended a SharePoint conference or gone through an expert-led SharePoint training, you’ve probably heard this term come up a number of times, though it’s likely you walked away confused or wondering exactly how you apply this super tool in an everyday way that would make your life easier. And now that metadata can be used in the modern SharePoint experience in Microsoft Teams , it’s even more useful.

Metadata has a black magic reputation. You’ll walk away thinking if you can harness the dragon that is metadata, that file you’re looking for will just present itself to you when you want it. But don’t be fooled: metadata’s not magic. It won’t automatically make your files easier to find or increase your search result quality tenfold. Metadata is super powerful, but to get something out of it, you have to work for it.

Metadata schemes need to be planned and set up, you have to get your colleagues to use it, and most importantly, you have to stick to it.

Getting the most out of metadata is like getting the most out of a personal budget. It takes time to start budgeting, and you need to be dedicated to it indefinitely to continue reaping the benefits. When used correctly, a personal budget can have great effect over your life. Same with SharePoint metadata.

So let’s start with the basics.

What is metadata?

The most common definition I hear from SharePoint experts goes like this: “Metadata is data about data.” Now that description may be a tad tongue-in-cheek from my geek brethren, but there’s no denying that it clears things up about as much as a bucket of mud splashed on a window.

Fortunately, it’s likely that you already know what metadata is, and that’s thanks to Edward Snowden and the US National Security Agency. Regardless of your viewpoints on NSA surveillance, you heard all about metadata back in 2013 when Snowden released details about NSA’s bulk phone metadata collection program.

NSA was recording information about domestic phone calls — like the date and time of the call, originating phone number, receiving phone number, and call duration — but not the content (the latter being illegal, even for NSA). The information about the phone call is called metadata.

As a practical example, let’s talk about your metadata. Your name, social security number (for US citizens), address, phone number, height, hair color, weight, and basically anything else you’d find on your government-issued ID is data about you, your metadata.

This information allows the government and anyone else with that database (looking at you, telemarketers) to organize their information into a system that makes it easy to search and find people of a certain type — or even a specific person — based on their characteristics… their metadata.

In much the same way, SharePoint metadata is the information about your files, not the content of the files. So, the file name, title, author, creation date, last modified date, last modifier, file size, etc. are all metadata. You can see the metadata in a standard document library view: each column is a metadata field.

Although I’m partial to the Urban Dictionary definition of metadata, actually.

Indeed, my metadata is flaring up today.

In SharePoint, some of these fields are auto-populated, and some are there for you to provide input. In a brand new document library, SharePoint only shows you limited metadata, basically the four columns in the screen shot above: file type (icon), file name, modified date, and modified by. But there’s actually a ton of metadata fields available in a document library out of the box.

Below is a screen shot of all of them. You only really see these when you create a new view. You can display them all if you’d like; although your library will have so many columns you’ll likely have to scroll left/right to see everything.

As an example, I created a new view that includes the original fields plus four more: created by , file size , version , and checked out to . (Incidentally, if you use check in/out in your sites or libraries, “checked out to” is one of the most useful fields to display because it’s not uncommon that people forget that they’ve checked files out.)

And this information is extremely useful if you’re trying to find files that you know something about. If you’re looking for a PowerPoint slide deck that you know had a video embedded that was last updated in 2015, using some common sense you can sort and filter by modified date, file size, and file type.

Simply keep your eye out for a slide deck that’s really large (it contains a video) and was last edited in 2015. The metadata can get you to your files much more efficiently than working your way through the entire document library. And it can definitely be quicker than doing a search.

Create your own metadata

The out-of-the-box metadata is useful, but the real power from metadata comes when you use it to categorize the content you keep in a document library. Make it work for you.

Metadata comes in the form of SharePoint columns. SharePoint calls them columns because they display as columns in the general view of a library, which looks similar to an Excel spreadsheet. And spreadsheets are made up of what? Say it with me: rows and columns .

But columns could just as easily be called fields. When you update them, you’re filling out a form and an entry space in a form is called a field. Either way, the entries that go into the column or field are your metadata.

Presuming you’re a site owner, you can create columns in your document library by going to the ribbon and clicking Library tab > Create column. And as long as you have Contribute access within the library, you can update the metadata by clicking the check box next to a file name, going to the ribbon and clicking File tab > Edit properties. (Note: much of the out-of-the-box metadata is more a record of what’s happening and not editable; e.g., “Modified by” tracks who modifies files. You can’t update or fake that.)

Generally, I like creating a number of metadata fields for document types at the very least. And I don’t mean the difference between a Word doc and a PowerPoint slide deck. It’s useful to separate different types of documents, organizational separations in your company, etc.

There are a number of columns you should consider creating in your document libraries. Here are a few to consider:

Defining your categories and tags

This is probably the hardest part. Strategically defining what your categories are and what options within those categories your company’s going to go with is hard . Nobody really goes to school for this, not even information science specialists.

Basically, you’ll have to create a taxonomy. And that’s not a simple endeavor. Taxonomies are large dictionaries of related terms. The best-known taxonomy is probably the life taxonomy. You know, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species? That’s a taxonomy. The Dewey Decimal System could also be called a taxonomy, though that’s using the taxonomy definition a bit more loosely.

I can’t cover how to build a taxonomy in a blog post. Or a dozen. If you’d like more info on this, I suggest reading The Accidental Taxonomist by Heather Hedden. Yes, it’s a whole book, specifically on building your document tagging categories. But it has a lot of good examples and it’s written by someone who wasn’t in the information management — or taxonomy — field. She found herself assigned the task, realized nobody really knows how to do this, and documented her experience in this book.

The fact that there’s an entire book on this topic should tell you to tread carefully as you begin investigating this, especially at an enterprise/corporate level.

Local versus global metadata

When you start playing with metadata, you can create these columns in libraries as necessary. But eventually you’ll probably want to see these tags be available in other libraries as well. Maybe even other sites. Well, you can do both.

SharePoint provides support for site-wide metadata, called site columns , which can be made available in all libraries within a site (and its sub-sites, actually). So, if you’re on the employee benefits team and own a site that contains multiple document libraries and want to tag your files with a similar taxonomy regardless of which library the files happen to live in, you can do that. That way, your files can be categorized based on whether they’re related to the health plan, vision plan, life insurance, short-term disability insurance, long-term disability insurance, 401(k), investment options, and the like.

If you want tags that are more universal, available across all sites in a site collection, you can use term sets . Term sets are useful for, say, a list of departments in a company. This information should be universal across all sites the company has in SharePoint. You shouldn’t have to update these at the library or even site level. They should be the same no matter where you are.

So you have lots of options: local tags in libraries, global ones in sites, and universal ones across your site collections and possibly the whole SharePoint system.

Metadata only works if you keep up with it

If you haven’t already come to the realization, in order for metadata to be of any use to you and your colleagues, the metadata has to be kept up to date at all times. That means whenever a file is created or uploaded, you need to tag it with the categories that are correct, otherwise they won’t show up under those categories. If you’re dependent on those categories, then these files are essentially invisible.

That means if you introduce metadata in a document library for your team, you need to talk that through with them so they understand the value. You’re adding a bit of a tax on them: the time it takes to categorize the files. So make sure your colleagues agree that there’s value (or understand that management does), so performing the task of updating metadata will be seen as a positive thing.

Metadata and search

All too often, good metadata is sold as an equivalent to being a panacea of significantly improved search results. Tread cautiously on this assumption, because metadata is great for refining your searches to remove extraneous results, but just tagging some item with a metadata category isn’t going to pop it up higher in your search results.

Think about it: if you have a new tag called “meeting minutes” for documents in your library, yes the file will work its way higher up in your results if you include meeting minutes in your search. But, if you eventually have a hundred or a thousand or more files tagged with that term, you’ve diluted the value of that term. So many other files include that term that the search engine isn’t going to give you a ton of value.

Where you will get the value is the ability to filter your results. If you’re familiar with the refiners on the SharePoint search results page, you’ll be happy to know that you can add custom refiners on a search result page that includes the tags you use in your site or within SharePoint as a whole. Just ask your IT team .

Using the example from above, if you’re only looking for meeting minutes, you can search the terms you would otherwise and check the box next to meeting minutes under your metadata category of Document Type (or whatever you call it). Now, every file that’s not tagged as meeting minutes will vanish, removing what will likely be a huge number of irrelevant results.

But, that example should show you the importance of keeping up with tagging. If the file you’re looking for wasn’t tagged correctly — or at all — it’s not going to be in your results when you refine. Therefore, it’s critical to keep up with tagging, otherwise it’s a wasted endeavor.

Metadata can provide you amazing results, but:

Otherwise it can be an extremely expensive project that provided absolutely no business value.

On the plus side, you can start small and scale, which provides you the opportunity to run a number of proofs of concept, sell and see the business value, implement, then repeat.

And yes, my metadata is still flaring up today. Good luck with yours!

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9 Killer Features of SharePoint Document Libraries

Matt W.

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New to SharePoint? Learn all about SharePoint features, tools and more with our blog series!

SharePoint document libraries are like super folders. They provide a useful way to separate your files and folders to keep things clean and organized within a SharePoint site. In this post, we’ll cover some of the best things about libraries and why you want to make the most of them. Libraries aren’t just some replacement for old shared or network drives. No, no: they’re a major upgrade to the old-school file share systems.

Here’s a helpful infographic to remind you what document libraries can do. But let’s talk some specifics below.

document libraries

Okay, not a killer feature. But one you’re used to and one that makes the SharePoint experience pretty similar to what you’ve been using for a while if you’re still on network drives. Organize your files in folders and subfolders to keep things clean! If they help you feel better about SharePoint, that would make folders a killer feature in my book.

2. Co-Authoring

Ever been hit with the dreaded “This file is locked for editing” pop-up? That pop-up is a thing of the past thanks to co-authoring. Co-authoring—available in SharePoint 2013, 2016, and Online with Office 2013 or 2016—lets you and your colleagues edit the same file at the same time. At first, you may feel like you’ve lost control. You haven’t. Co-authoring eases the collaboration and review process immensely. And if you’re worried about others editing your files, consider keeping them in OneDrive or restricting the permissions until you’re ready to share.

Learn how to deploy Office 365 backup to ensure you can restore SharePoint items at a granular level without needing to roll back the entire library.

3. Offline Syncing

If you’re using SharePoint 2016 or Online, you can sync files from a document library to your computer, tablet, or mobile device with the OneDrive app . That means you can be working on shared files where you have no wi-fi (airplane, anyone?) and OneDrive will automatically push the updated file to the cloud the next time you get connected.

what is a report library in sharepoint

4. Groups, Yammer, and Teams

If you use Outlook Groups, Yammer  Feeds, or Microsoft Teams , you know they each have a place to save files. But did you know those file folders are in a SharePoint site that was created specifically for that Group, Feed, or Team? Yes indeed . While many of the SharePoint features aren’t (yet) available directly in those apps, you can always open the library in SharePoint for all the goodness that I’m covering in this post.

5. Metadata

In many cases, you need to be able to categorize your files in multiple ways. Maybe by year, office location, and document type, for instance. If you use folders, you’re stuck with one arbitrary way. You may prefer Office Location > Year > Document Type. Your colleague may prefer Year > Document Type > Office Location. It really depends on how you think and what type of work you do. But thanks to metadata, you can tag files with these multiple ideas then sort and filter your library to display the files however you prefer. Learn the basics of metadata here .

what is a report library in sharepoint

If you end up liking metadata and how you can sort and filter to show what you want, how you want it, you’ll like how SharePoint gives you the option to save that setup as a view. Once you create a view, you don’t have to manually sort and filter each time you load the library. Learn more about views here .

7. Version History

Have you ever saved a file and realized, “Whoops, I saved it after doing a lot of unintended damage. I need the old copy back!” File shares don’t have a built-in way to go back. Document libraries do. Version history lets you restore old versions, delete versions that are no longer relevant, and even revert changes made by others that you don’t want to keep. Learn more about version history here .

what is a report library in sharepoint

Did you know you can get an automated email notification if someone makes a change to a file, uploads a new file, or deletes a file in your library? This is extremely handy when you have a document out for review and want to know when your reviewers went in to make comments. Learn more about alerts here .

Instead of just uploading files, sometimes you also want quick access to links that point to other websites (even public ones). Document libraries in SharePoint 2013 need a quick tweak to enable links; libraries in SharePoint 2016 and Online include links from the start. Link away!


I hope you find these features as useful as I have. I use all these at least sometimes when using document libraries and find they really come in handy, especially when I remember all the amazing things a seemingly simple document library can do. Keep that infographic handy, too. It’s a nice way to remind yourself what you’re able to do.

Parting tip: if you’re still using SharePoint 2010 or 2013, it’s time to pester your IT department to upgrade to SharePoint 2016 or SharePoint Online . Many of these features are only available in those versions (or are at least significantly improved by them). You’ll be glad you made the upgrade.

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what is a report library in sharepoint

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Matt W.

Hey, Matt – thanks for another great post, and infographic.

Re items 1 and 5, where Folders may leave you “stuck with one arbitrary way” of categorizing files, compared to Metadata. There’s a way to mitigate that, using both folders and metadata.

Here’s the challenge: Many content owners see their folders as anything but arbitrary, and are unwilling to give them up to rely solely on metadata. Some owners may also want to set different permissions on different folders, but have all content available in the same library.

Unfortunately it’s a pain for the content consumers, who do see those folders as both arbitrary, and difficult to browse through.

In those scenarios, it may help to use both folders and metadata, and then create a “flat” view that shows all items without folders. Now your users will have a security-trimmed view that lets them sort and filter all files that they are allowed to see from across the entire library, without respect to how the content owner(s) chose to organize them.

Agreed! That’s a tad higher level than this intro, but I do recommend this on a regular basis.

The main issue I run into with using metadata instead of folders is when users need to be able to open a pdf in Acrobat so they can edit. You can browse a SP library and use metadata to find a pdf document, but from there you can only view. If you connect to a SP site using Acrobat (which you can’t if you turn on require modern authentication), you can browse in a file explorer way, but metadata is useless at that point because it can’t be viewed/used. Same if you sync a library with OneDrive, metadata isn’t available in OneDrive desktop client. As much as I’d like to use metadata instead of folders, there are several use cases that metadata isn’t available for use by the end user. What do you suggest?

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