How to set up a three-state workflow on a SharePoint document library

Learn which steps are required to add a three-state workflow to a document library in Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 3.0.

About setting up a 3-state workflow in WSS 3.0

A three-state workflow can be used to track documents in a SharePoint document library by using 3 different states.

Setting up a three-state workflow on a SharePoint document library is a 2-step process. You must:

  1. Create a Choice column or use an existing Choice column on the document library.
  2. Add a three-state workflow to the document library.

1. Create a Choice column on the document library

The 3-state workflow requires you to have a Choice column on the document library that has at least 3 options. These 3 options will serve as the states a document can go through.

To create a Choice column on a document library:

  1. Go to the document library to which you want to add the column.
  2. On the Settings menu, click Document Library Settings.
  3. On the Customize page, under the Columns section, click Create column.
  4. On the Create Column page, type a Name for the column, for example Status and select Choice (menu to choose from).
    Creating a Choice column on a Document Library in WSS 3.0 for use with a Three-state workflow.
  5. Under Additional Column Settings, type in 3 options, each on a separate line, for example, New, Under Review, and Approved.

    Entering 3 options for a Choice column on a Document Library to be used with a Three-state worklow.
  6. Click OK.

Your document library should now have a column named Status where you can give a document a status of New, Under Review, or Approved.

2. Add a three-state workflow to the document library

Once you have a Choice column set up on your document library, you can proceed to adding the three-state workflow to the document library.

To add a 3-state workflow to a document library:

  1. Go to the document library to which you want to add the workflow.
  2. On the Settings menu, click Document Library Settings.
  3. On the Customize page, under Permissions and Management, click Workflow settings.

    Accessing the workflow settings page on a SharePoint Document Library.
  4. On the Add a Workflow page, select Three-state from the list of workflow templates.
  5. Type a Name for workflow, for example, Three-state approval workflow.
  6. Select the Start this workflow when a new item is created, and click Next.
  7. On the Customize the Three-state workflow page, select the Status column from the document library as the Choice field, select New as the Initial state, Under Review as the Middle state, and Approved as the Final state.
  8. Customize the rest of the workflow settings on this page if you want to (read the accompanying help text on the page to fill out the rest of the fields). Here we’ll just deselect all of the Send e-mail message check boxes, and click OK.

Now whenever you save a document in the document library, the three-state workflow kicks off and the Three-state approval workflow column displays the text “In Progress”.

A Three-state workflow instance in progress on a document in a SharePoint Document Library.

As soon as you change the Status field of the document to Approved the Three-state approval workflow column displays the text “Completed” and the workflow ends.

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