Content Types: Love Them or Lose It

Marc D. Anderson

Sympraxis Consulting


  • Least utilized most important
  • People cannot find things because lack of content types
  • This isn’t new. since 2007
  • IA is so important. If you are not representing your enterprise structures, get with it.
  • The naming of content types is part of your structure and taxonomy.
  • This takes work though.


What are content types?

  • What are they replacing? File cabinets?
  • A collection of structured and unstructured data that taken together represents a business object
    • Invoice contract
    • Status report
    • Vacation request
    • Product overview
    • Order
    • Project description
    • Contract
    • Facility Capability
    • CEO/CIO Video
  • Inherits from existing content type and is built up by adding additional site columns

What isn’t a content type?

  • not a file type
  • it’s not usually a media type..it’s a “CEO video”

Out of the box content types do not represent your business. This is not a bad thing, but you should enhance content types to fit your enterprise IA and taxonomy.

Examples of Out of the Box Content Types:

  • Item
  • Event
  • Task
  • Document
  • Announcement
  • Created By
  • Modified By
  • Title


  • Consistent Structure
  • Easier management
  • Improves search
  • Move content through a process with workflow

Talk to the business and identify their business content types *

Enterprise level content types should be developed at the root level *


  • You have to do some work
  • You won’t get it right the first time
  • This is a role actually, as a SharePoint advocate
  • Folders may be ok for a person, as more people use it the more the folder concept is problematic
  • It’s harder to role this out after the fact, do it early*

Content types are collections of site columns

  • Item
  • Title
  • Createdby / Modifiedby

Good things:

  • Workflows
  • Document Information Panel (DIP) settings
  • Retention policies
  • Templates
  • Site columns become managed properties for search

Use content: status report. learn the syntax. *

New content types inherit from existing content types

example: Announcement —> Department announcement







Be pedantic!

  • Content types are singular, not plural
  • List and libraries are plural
  • Words matter, seriously.

Content type hub *

  • Publishing content type (enterprise related)
  • Bad idea to un-publish content type
  • Centralizes content types
  • Downsides..be aware

I like lookup columns over choice columns

  • Risk level example
  • Define risk level
  • You can’t do this in the content type
  • Lookup columns only work in collection, you can’t look in other sites or collections outside

“Find people in your enterprise with a librarian background…find them..use them..they are really freaky..but good at organizing information and metadata. * Staff dev / HR”

Tips and tricks

Create groups for site columns and content types with leading underscores

  • Maintenance
  • Take advantage of inheritance