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Using SharePoint Content Types vs Save as Template

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During my recent Webinar on understanding SharePoint Content Types someone asked me if he should use Content Types or save the library as a template. He also wanted to know the differences between the two.

When you save a library as template, you lose the ability to centrally manage it afterwards. In this example, I take an Invoice Content Type vs an Invoice Library saved as template. With an Invoice Content Type, I can centrally manage the settings and the columns even after the libraries have been created whereas with the saved as template it is too late.

My recommendation is to create the SharePoint Content Type and assign to a library that you will then save as template.


Video Transcript

Hi. Recently I was asked, “Hey Benjamin, should I use a Content-Type? Or should I just configure my list or my library and then save it as a template to push it to all my sites?” That’s a very good question.

Now, we have to understand the basics. I’ve recently done a webinar that you can check out on Content-Types. But the idea behind a Content-Type is basically putting a bunch of configurations together and managing it centrally at the site where you created the Content-Type. So the Content-Type will be me taking a few site columns, putting them together into what I call a Content-Type.

So I will say invoice number is a column. Customer; it’ll be another column. Total of invoice. All of these columns together will be an invoice Content-Type for me.

I can assign other settings. I can put a Workflow, an Information Policy, change the Document Information Panel which is what appears in the Word document and other Office documents. Whereas saving your list as a template or your document library as a template, if you put all of your configuration in that list or library, and you save it as a template, and you start pushing it out to all of your sites, around your site collections or even elsewhere.

If tomorrow you decide to add a new column to invoice, well you can’t. You can’t go and publish or re-publish or change the document libraries that you already deployed. You can change the template and future libraries will be affected, but if you want to, in a single way, update your columns or update what an invoice is, then my recommendation is create a Content-Type.

Say what an invoice is. Store it, probably, at the root site collection. What you’ll do then is assign your Content-Type, if you want, to a list or to your library, depending on what it is. You can save that as a template after you’ve done your configuration and it’ll push your document libraries down to your sites.

The advantage there is that you can always go back to your Content-Type at the root, make a change, add a choice in your choice column, add a new column to the invoice Content-Type. Then you’ll have the option to publish or update any Content-Types that inherit from this one.

So, that’s my tip for today.

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