Creating and deleting SharePoint 2013 content types

Learn how you can create and delete Microsoft SharePoint content types in SharePoint 2013.

Content types, as the name suggests, can be used to define types of content. In SharePoint in particular, content types are used to:

  1. Define specific types of documents or information products.
  2. Streamline and enforce the use of properties on documents or information products.
  3. Simplify searching for specific content.

In other words, Microsoft SharePoint content types help provide consistency across a site collection by enabling organizations to organize, manage, and handle content.

Creating Microsoft SharePoint content types

Content types are hierarchical, meaning that they are created based on parent content types, with the root parent content type being the System content type.

When you create a SharePoint content type, you must specify a name and a parent content type it inherits from. SharePoint 2013 comes with a whole list of content types, which you can base your custom content type on. But for document management in particular, the Document content type would be the main one to use as the parent content type of your custom content types.

You can create a SharePoint content type at one of 3 levels:

  1. At the SharePoint site level.
  2. At the SharePoint site collection level.
  3. At the SharePoint content type hub level.

When you create a content type at the site level, that content type becomes available on all subsites of that site. When you create a content type at the site collection level, that content type becomes available on all sites in that site collection. And when you create a content type at the content type hub level, that content type can be used in site collections across the entire farm.

You must have Full Control for a site to create site content types for that site. And you must be a site collection administrator if you want to create site content types for the top-level site in a site collection.

Deleting Microsoft SharePoint content types

When you add a site content type to a library, a copy of the SharePoint content type is added to the library and becomes what is called a list content type. You can then use this list content type to create documents in the library.

When you want to delete a site content type, you must ensure that all of the documents that were created using that content type via a list content type, are deleted before you try to delete the site content type. In addition, all of the list content types that are based on the site content type must also be deleted before you attempt to delete the site content type.

If you do not do this, SharePoint will display the error:

The content type is in use


Content Type is still in use

Important: Never delete a library that is using content types before first deleting the documents that are linked to the list content types of the library, and the list content types themselves that were created from site content types. If you delete a library without first unlinking it from a content type, you will not be able to delete the site content type through SharePoint's user interface and it will forever be "in use".

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