How to define a site column

On this page you find instructions on how to define site columns in SharePoint (name, type, description, default value, allow multiple values, allow fill-in value, style, etc).

When creating a new site column or when modifying existing site columns, these are the most common settings that you need to define:

Settings that are applicable for all column types

  1. Give the column a meaningful “Name”.
    Give the column a meaningful name

    • If the proposed name of the column has other characters than a-z and 0-9, replace these with characters and remove any spaces between words, e.g. “DocumentType” instead of “Document type”. By doing it this way, the column’s internal name (unique identifier) will get a meaningful name, “DocumentType” instead of “Document_x0020_type” (non-supported characters will automatically be replaced with their hex code). After creation, the column’s display name (the name that will be used in MetaShare and in the rest of SharePoint) can however be renamed to, in this case “Document type”, the internal name will still remain as “DocumentType”. The reason for having meaningful internal names for columns is that it will be much easier to later manage these, when e.g. customizing the search engine in SharePoint.
    • The internal name of a column cannot be “Folder” so if you want a column called Folder, create it first as another name and later rename it to Folder.
    • The column’s display name needs to be unique in the site, so if SharePoint does not allow you to create a column with the specific name that you want it be have, you can “fool” SharePoint by adding an extra space in the end of the name. If this still does not work, you need to use PowerShell (method 2 on this page).
    • The column’s display name can be multi-lingual. To give a column a translated name, just rename the column after having switched the language of SharePoint.
  2. Select the “type of column you want to create”. Select any of the highlighted columns (the columns that are currently supported by MetaShare).
    Select the type of column you want to create
    After a column has been created, it cannot be changed between different column types, with some exceptions.
  3. In the drop-down “Put this site column into”, select the “MetaShare columns” group, or any other meaningful group that you use to group your columns.
    Select the group to add the column to
    The name of the group that you select does not have effect the behavior of the column, it just makes it easier to find them if they are grouped into meaningful names. If you manage a larger organisation with several legal entities, you can easily separate the columns by adding them into different groups. If you do not select a group, SharePoint will by default put the column into a group called “Custom Columns”.
  4. Optionally a description could be given to the column:
    If needed, give the column a meaningful description
    If the description is filled in, the values will be presented under the fields, as a help-text, e.g:
    The column description shown as a help-text under the control
    The column’s description can be multi-lingual, like the column’s name. To give a column a translated description, just translate it after having switched the language of SharePoint.
  5. Optionally a default value can be set for the column (applies to all columns, apart for “Person or Group” columns).
    The setting looks slightly different for the column types:

    • Single line of text:
      The default value for a single line of text column
    • Managed metadata:
      The default value for a managed metadata column
    • Date and Time:
      The default value for a date and time column
    • Choice:
      The default value for a choice column

Settings that are applicable for Managed Metadata columns

  1. By default, Managed Metadata columns are set to only allow single values but they can be configured to allow multiple values. Only single value columns are however sortable in document views:
    Define if the column is to allow multiple values
  2. Managed Metadata columns need to be mapped to a term set:
    Map the column to a term set
  3. By default, Managed Metadata columns are set to not allow fill-in choices (all values are managed by the content administrators) but they can be configured to allow the end-users to create new terms/values:
    Allow fill-in values
    Note that terms that are created by end-users, from the document’s property form, are created in a flat structure, i.e. users will not be able to define if a term should be a child of another term.

Settings that are applicable for Person or Group columns

  1. By default, People and group columns are set to only allow single values but they can be configured to allow multiple values. Only single value columns are however sortable in document views:
    Define if the column is to allow multiple selections

Settings that are applicable for Choice columns

  1. The choices that the users are to select from need to added in the following field:
    Type in the choices
  2. By default, Choice columns are set to display their choices in a “Drop-Down Menu”. For the column to work in MetaShare, the choices need to be displayed using “Radio Buttons”:
    Choose the style for the choice column
  3. By default, Choice columns are set to not allow fill-in choices (all values are managed by the content administrators). For the column to work in MetaShare, do not change this setting:
    Allow fill-in values

If you just created one or several new site columns, you might want to add them to site content types, maybe change their status (mandatory, optional & hidden) and change the order that they are displayed in the documents’ property form.

If you have made changes to an existing site column and want these changes to be propagated to all workspaces, one of the content types that has the column in its definition needs to be published.