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Introduction to Content Types

This post is a practical introduction to Content Types, anyone that uses SharePoint and is not 100% sure what Content Types are or how to best use them needs to follow this series of posts.A good measure of a persons SharePoint knowledge is to ask them to describe Content Types, I think it was Einstein that said

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough

At this years SharePoint Best Practices Conference one of the speakers (I can’t remember who) described Content Types by switching the words around and saying that they are Types of Content. Simple? Are you with me yet?

Content Types are at the centre of pretty much everything you do in the SharePoint world, be it creating an item in a list or a uploading a document to a library; all items and documents are based on Content Types.

Let’s take a look at the Site Content Types option that lives within Site Actions > Site Settings > Galleries.

Once enabled, you can add these Content Types to a library or list and allow the user to select that particular Content Type

In the screenshot above I have removed the default document library Content Type and replaced it with four other Content Types.

To demonstrate the different types of column that each Content Type has, let’s take a look at the Rich Media Asset Content Type Vs the Image Content Type (which is a child of the Rich Media Asset Content Type)

As you can see, the Rich Media Asset has columns to store Name, Title and Keywords columns and the Image Content Type has the same three plus Comments, Author, Date Picture Taken and Copyright columns. The two Content Types sit within the same library but because they have a separate set of columns it makes the document library much more useful.

Not only can Content Types contain their own columns they can also have associated workflows, information management policy settings and their own templates, this is all in addition to the settings that are set within the document library itself and allows for the reuse of a Content Type among many different lists or libraries.

I hope that this was a useful introduction to Content Types and their related benefits, if you like what you see and want to learn more visit the sites listed below or check back here for follow up posts over the coming weeks.

Check out the Office help on this very topic and A Point For Sharing both different but still very good explanations of the subject.

Matthew Hughes