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SharePoint List: A Comprehensive Guide for Optimal Usage

20 June 2024

SharePoint Lists are invaluable tools for managing information efficiently across your organization. These lists serve as repositories that enable users to store, organize, and share various data types, such as tasks, contacts, and announcements. Whether you are using SharePoint Server, Microsoft 365, or Teams, mastering SharePoint Lists is crucial to leveraging the full potential of SharePoint.

Creating a SharePoint List is straightforward. You can begin with a template, use an Excel file as a base, or create one from scratch. Once a list is set up, you can personalize it by adding or removing columns, adjusting views, and configuring metadata navigation. Additionally, SharePoint Lists integrate seamlessly with other Microsoft tools like Teams and Power Platform, enhancing collaborative efforts within your team.

Key Points

  • Microsoft SharePoint lists facilitate organized data management.
  • Lists can be created from templates, Excel files, or from scratch and customized with columns and views.
  • Integrating with Microsoft tools enhances the collaborative use of SharePoint lists.

Understanding Microsoft SharePoint Lists and List Basics

  • A SharePoint list is a powerful resource for organizing and managing data within your organization. It consists of items akin to rows in a spreadsheet or database, each with various fields similar to columns. Using SharePoint Lists, you can streamline tasks, boost collaboration, and effectively display data across different platforms.
  • As a user, you can create, modify, and share lists with your team. You can start with ready-made templates from Microsoft, providing a convenient starting point.

Types of Lists

Several types of SharePoint Lists cater to different organizational needs. Common examples include:

    • Task lists for assigning and tracking tasks, enhancing team workflow management.
    • Calendar lists to keep track of events, meetings, and important dates.
    • Issue tracking lists for reporting and monitoring problems within the organization.
    • Custom lists that allow for a completely personalized structure to meet specific needs.

SharePoint List vs. Libraries

While SharePoint Lists and Libraries share similarities, they serve distinct purposes. Lists are structured data containers, whereas Libraries are meant for document storage.

  • SharePoint lists are ideal for organizing information with a specific structure and managing metadata. They are useful for tasks like tracking assignments or issues.
  • SharePoint Libraries focus on storing, organizing, and managing documents. They offer features like versioning and collaborative file editing, which are essential for complex projects involving multiple contributors.

In essence, SharePoint Lists are key to managing and organizing data within an organization. They offer a structured way to handle tasks, track issues, and maintain organized information. By utilizing different list types, you can effectively address your organization’s needs and enhance collaboration.

Creating SharePoint Lists Using List Templates

SharePoint provides a range of templates for quickly setting up pre-configured lists tailored to your needs, such as Task Lists, Issue Tracking, and Announcements. To create a list using a template, go to your SharePoint Site, click on New > List, and select a template from the list page.

Creating a Custom List

Sometimes you need a list that doesn’t fit any predefined template. In such cases, you can start with a blank list. Go to your SharePoint Site, click New > List, and choose the Blank list option. Define the columns, data types, and views to suit your needs, and remember to name and describe your list meaningfully.

Importing from Excel

Another method for creating a SharePoint list is importing data from an Excel file, useful when you have structured data ready in Excel.

    1. Format your Excel data as a table (Home > Format as Table).
    2. Save the Excel file to a location accessible from your SharePoint site.
    3. Go to your SharePoint site, click New > List, and select From Excel.
    4. Locate and select your Excel file, then click Import.
    5. Map the Excel columns to the SharePoint columns and click Finish to complete the import.

Ensure your Excel data is neatly formatted as a table for the best results. Only .xlsx files are supported.

By following these methods, you can effortlessly create SharePoint lists, whether using templates, crafting custom lists, or importing from Excel files. These approaches help manage your data effectively, fostering collaboration and productivity in your organization.

Configuring List Settings SharePoint Site General Settings

Configuring list settings in SharePoint allows you to tailor lists to your business needs. You can manage general settings, like changing the list name, description, or navigation settings. Start by clicking the gear icon in the top right corner and selecting “List settings.” Here, you can edit properties to clarify the list’s purpose and make it easily accessible via Quick Launch or left-side navigation. For more details, visit Microsoft Support’s page on general settings.

Advanced Settings

SharePoint list settings also include advanced options that extend the list’s capabilities. You can configure features like versioning, content types, item-level permissions, and incoming email settings. Access these by clicking “Advanced settings” under the “General Settings” section on the List Settings page. Explore each setting to adapt it to your organization’s requirements.

Permissions and Security

Ensuring the security and proper permissions for your SharePoint list is essential to protecting data integrity. Permissions settings control user and group access to lists and define their permission levels. To customize list permissions, go to the List Settings page and click “Permissions for this list” under the “Permissions and Management” section. Review and update permissions to keep your list secure from unauthorized access while allowing appropriate access for users.

Managing List Content

We emphasize effective content management within SharePoint lists. This section covers adding and modifying items, organizing and sorting data, and working with columns and fields to maximize your SharePoint Lists.

Adding and Modifying Items

To add an item to a SharePoint List, navigate to your list and click “+ New.” Complete the form and click “Save.” To modify an item, select it and click the “edit” icon, then update the information and save. For bulk edits, select multiple items and click “Edit” at the list’s top to update them simultaneously.

Organizing and Sorting

Efficiently organizing and sorting your data is crucial for optimizing your SharePoint List. To filter data, click the drop-down arrow next to a column header and select your criteria. You can also sort by clicking a column header and choosing “Sort A to Z” or “Sort Z to A” for ascending or descending order, respectively.

Working with Columns and Fields

SharePoint Lists use columns and fields to store different types of information for each item. You can add new columns to capture essential data by clicking the “+ Add column” button and selecting the column type. Complete the details and save. To edit a column, click the drop-down arrow next to its header and select “Column settings” > “Edit” to change its properties.

Utilize SharePoint’s robust features to organize and manage your data effectively by working with columns and fields. Following these steps will enhance your confidence and expertise in managing content within SharePoint Lists.

Customization and Usage

We focus on helping you maximize SharePoint’s capabilities. This section explores how to customize and use SharePoint lists effectively, including view customization, forms and validation, and managing content types and metadata.

View Customization

SharePoint offers various ways to tailor list views to enhance user experience, such as conditional formatting. You can apply conditional classes to rows, adjust column formatting, and use color coding for better visibility. Customizing list views helps your team access and process crucial information more efficiently.

Forms and Validation

Designing effective forms can streamline data entry and ensure accurate data capture. Customize SharePoint list forms to include essential fields and validate entered data, maintaining data integrity by enforcing required structures and formats. You can:

    • Make specific fields mandatory.
    • Set data validation rules.
    • Reorder form fields for better intuitiveness.

These customizations create user-friendly forms tailored to your needs.

Content Types and Metadata

Efficient data management and organization are critical for business success. SharePoint’s content types define templates with predefined metadata, simplifying the collection of structured information. Metadata enables seamless categorization, sorting, and filtering of data, enhancing consistency, search functionality, and organization. Applying content types and metadata to your SharePoint lists streamlines data handling.

To sum up, customizing SharePoint lists is vital for optimizing team performance and maintaining data quality. Through view customization, forms and validation, and content types and metadata, you can create an efficient and user-friendly environment.

Integration and Automation: Connecting to Microsoft 365 Apps

Integrating SharePoint online lists with Microsoft 365 apps facilitates seamless data sharing and collaboration. Connect your list to Microsoft Teams to enable team members to access, edit, and discuss list items directly within Teams, promoting real-time collaboration. Key integrations include:

    • Microsoft Teams: Embed lists in a Teams channel to streamline communication.
    • OneDrive: centralize the storage of documents related to list items.
    • Excel: Import and export data for advanced analysis.
    • Power BI: Create interactive dashboards and reports from list data.

Utilizing Power Platform

Enhance SharePoint list functionality with Power Platform tools. Power Apps can transform your lists into custom mobile or web apps tailored to specific business needs. Use Power Automate to create automated workflows that trigger actions based on list events, such as sending notifications or updating other systems. Power BI allows you to create dynamic reports and dashboards from your list data. These tools significantly boost productivity and operational efficiency by streamlining and automating processes.

Examples of SharePoint List Automation

Streamline repetitive tasks with SharePoint list automation. Here are a few examples:

    • Automate task assignments with Power Automate.
    • Use Power Apps to build custom forms and mobile apps for managing list data.
    • Create dynamic reports and dashboards with Power BI.

Integration with Microsoft 365 and Power Platform significantly enhances the utility and versatility of SharePoint lists, promoting effective collaboration and streamlined operations.


Embracing SharePoint Lists and effectively utilizing their extensive features significantly enhances organizational data management. By creating, customizing, and integrating lists with other tools, you streamline operations and foster collaboration. Solutions is committed to helping you harness the power of SharePoint Lists to achieve your business objectives. Explore our expert solutions to elevate your SharePoint usage today

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