Design and create a document content type in SharePoint

Step-by-step example for designing a document content type and instructions on how to then create that content type in SharePoint.

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Document content types in SharePoint

While SharePoint offers several types of site content types, the two most important content types for document management in SharePoint are used to create:

  1. Documents
  2. Folders

Site content types used to create documents are called document content types, and those for folders, folder content types.

Document and folder content types encapsulate the metadata, workflows, policies, and other settings of documents and folders in SharePoint.

So when you create a document that is based on a document content type, that document is created with all of the metadata and settings that were defined on the content type.

This article discusses the creation of a document content type for managing incident reports.

Designing the custom document content type

The following figure is a visual representation of the definition of an IncidentReport document content type used as an example in this article.

Defining a document template, site columns, and workflows on a document content type in SharePoint
Figure 1. Defining a document template, site columns, and workflows on a document content type in SharePoint.

Your organization may already have a Word document with which incidents are recorded. You could take this Word document, enter default data into it, and then use it as the base template for the IncidentReport document content type you want to create in SharePoint. The Word document would then become the Document Template shown in Figure 1.

Considering how people in your organization may search or want to search on incident reports, you could come up with the following list of fields that you want users to fill out for each incident report, so that all incident reports can easily be found:

You would then create Site Columns on the content type for these fields.

While you may require and could create other fields such as Author, DateCreated, DateModified, SharePoint automatically creates these fields.

You may also want to define one or more workflows that each incident report should go through once it has been created or modified.

You can add these workflows to the document content type, so that each document that is based on the content type will have the workflow(s) already defined and ready to run when they are created.

Creating the document content type in SharePoint

When you create a custom content type in SharePoint, you must choose a parent content type to base your content type on.

You can use the Document parent content type in SharePoint to create a custom document content type of your own.

To create a custom document content type:

  1. In SharePoint, navigate to the SharePoint site where you want to create the content type. Consider the scope of site content types when choosing which SharePoint site to create the content type on.
  2. On the Site Actions menu, click Site Settings.
  3. On the Site Settings page under Galleries, click Site content types.
  4. On the Site Content Type Gallery page, click Create.
  5. On the New Site Content Type page, type IncidentReport in the Name text box, select Document Content Types from the Select parent content type from drop-down list box, select Document from the Parent Conent Type drop-down list box, and click OK.

To add a template to the document content type:

  1. On the Site Content Type: IncidentReport page under Settings, click Advanced settings.
  2. Follow the instructions as described in Adding a document template to a SharePoint document library using a content type (or the following SharePoint video tutorial: Use a content type to add a document template to a SharePoint document library) for an example on how to add a Word document to a content type so that it can be used as a template.

To create one or more site columns on the document content type:

  1. On the Site Content Type: IncidentReport page under Columns, click Add from existing site columns if you want to add an existing site column to the content type, or click Add from new site column if you want to create a new site column for the content type.
  2. Follow the instructions as described in How to create a SharePoint site column for an example on how to create a site column.

To add a workflow to the document content type:

  1. On the Site Content Type: IncidentReport page under Settings, click Workflow settings.
  2. Follow the instructions as described in Adding a three-state workflow to a content type in SharePoint for an example on how to add a workflow to a content type.

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