The Essential Guide to SharePoint Lists

SharePoint lists are at the heart of data management in SharePoint. They are essentially a collection of rows and columns that enable users to store and organize data in a structured manner. Think of it as a virtual spreadsheet that can be easily accessed and collaborated on by multiple users. SharePoint lists can be used for a wide range of purposes, such as tracking tasks, managing contacts, storing documents, and more.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the ins and outs of SharePoint Lists, from understanding their purpose and structure to creating and customizing them to suit your unique requirements. We will also delve into advanced features, integration with Microsoft 365, and troubleshooting common issues. So, let’s embark on this journey to unlock the full potential of SharePoint Lists and transform your data management experience!

Key Takeaways

  • SharePoint List is a powerful tool for boosting productivity, streamlining tasks, and improving collaboration within an organization.
  • SharePoint Lists provide an efficient way to organize and manage data, with customizable features for displaying across platforms.
  • By customizing the SharePoint List to suit your organization’s unique requirements, you can achieve your goals more efficiently and effectively.
  • Advanced features such as custom views, conditional formatting, rules, and workflows enable improved collaboration within Microsoft 365 apps.
  • Migrating and managing SharePoint Lists is essential for secure access to data.
  • Creating, managing, and sharing SharePoint Lists is easy and customizable.

What is a SharePoint List?

What is a SharePoint List

A SharePoint List is essentially a collection of data structured in rows and columns, much like a spreadsheet or a basic database. They are designed to facilitate efficient data management and organization, allowing users to create and manage various types of lists using a wide range of pre-built templates. The key features of a SharePoint List include cells, columns, and rows (known as list items), along with the ability to configure various views, formatting, templates, rules, and workflows to how to create a list.

Creating and managing SharePoint Lists allows SharePoint users to enjoy an experience akin to working with spreadsheets. Whether you need to track issues, manage tasks, Employee onboarding, or collect survey responses, SharePoint Lists offer the flexibility and scalability needed to keep your organization’s data organized and accessible.

Understanding SharePoint Lists

SharePoint Lists are an integral part of the SharePoint ecosystem, providing an excellent platform for organizing and managing data with ease. They enable users to create tables with rows and columns, similar to an Excel spreadsheet, offering a flexible way of organizing information for you and your team members. Understanding SharePoint Lists is essential to using this tool effectively.

A SharePoint List is essentially a table that contains data, with each row representing a record and each column representing a field. SharePoint Lists can be customized to include different types of fields, such as text, numbers, dates, and attachments. They can also be sorted, filtered, and grouped to make it easier to find and manage data. SharePoint lists can be easily accessed, edited, and shared by team or organization members. Lists can be used for a variety of purposes, from tracking tasks and issues to managing contacts and inventory.

Creating a new list in SharePoint is a simple process, and can be done directly from the SharePoint site. Once a list is created, it can be customized to fit the specific needs of the team or organization. This includes adding or removing columns, defining column types, and setting up views to filter and sort the data.

SharePoint lists are highly customizable and can be integrated with other Microsoft 365 apps, such as Excel and Power Platform. This allows teams to easily analyze and visualize their data, as well as automate processes and workflows.

Benefits of SharePoint List

The purpose of SharePoint lists is to provide a centralized and structured way to store and manage data within the SharePoint environment. SharePoint List offers numerous benefits for organizations, including:

  1. Data organization: SharePoint lists allow you to categorize and organize data using columns and views, making it easy to find and access information.
  2. Collaboration: Multiple users can simultaneously work on a SharePoint list, making it ideal for team collaboration and ensuring data consistency.
  3. Customization: SharePoint lists can be customized to fit your organization’s specific needs by adding or removing columns, creating custom views, and setting up workflows.
  4. Data integrity: SharePoint lists provide built-in validation rules and data types, ensuring that the data entered is accurate and consistent.
  5. Security: SharePoint lists offer robust security features, allowing you to control who can access, edit, and delete data.

Overall, mastering the SharePoint List is crucial for any business seeking to optimize its data management and improve workflow processes. In the next section, we will delve deeper into the process of creating SharePoint Lists and using pre-defined templates.

SharePoint Lists vs. Document Libraries

SharePoint lists and libraries are two fundamental components of the SharePoint platform, each serving different purposes and offering unique features. Understanding the differences between SharePoint lists and libraries can help you choose the right tool for your specific requirements.

SharePoint lists are designed to store structured data in a tabular format, similar to a spreadsheet. You can create columns, define data types, and apply various settings to organize and manage your data. Lists are ideal for scenarios such as tracking issues, managing tasks, or storing contact information.

On the other hand, SharePoint libraries are specifically designed for storing and managing documents. They provide features such as versioning, check-in/check-out, document approval workflows, and document metadata. Libraries are ideal for scenarios such as document collaboration, document management, or knowledge sharing.

While both SharePoint lists and libraries offer similar functionalities, such as permissions management, search capabilities, and metadata, they differ in terms of their primary purpose and structure. Lists focus on structured data management, while libraries focus on document management.

In terms of use cases, SharePoint Lists are best suited for organizing structured data like tracking issues, managing tasks, or collecting survey responses. In contrast, SharePoint Document Libraries are ideal for storing and managing files, making them the go-to option for document storage and management. Comprehending the differences between SharePoint Lists and Document Libraries empowers you to select the appropriate tool for your organization’s data management needs.

Creating and Customizing SharePoint Lists

Creating a SharePoint List is a simple process that can be done in just a few clicks. Once you have created a list, you can add data manually or by importing data from an external source. You can customize the list by adding columns, changing the layout, and setting up views. Managing and sharing SharePoint Lists is also easy, with options to control access, set up alerts, and create workflows. With advanced features like versioning, auditing, and content approval, SharePoint List is a powerful tool for managing data and collaborating with your team.

How to Create a SharePoint List?

You can either create a List from scratch, or you can use pre-defined templates to save time and effort. Let’s walk through both methods step-by-step. To create a new SharePoint List, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to your site’s Home page.
  2. Click on the “New” button in the toolbar and choose “List”.
    create a list in sharepoint
  3. Choose to start with a “Blank List” or use a pre-built template. SharePoint offers several ready-made templates, such as issue trackers, travel requests, Asset managers, etc.
    create a blank list
  4. Once you’ve created your list, you can customize it by adding columns, items, and metadata on the list page.
  5. Tailor your SharePoint List to your specific needs to ensure your data is organized and displayed most effectively.

Customizing your SharePoint List settings can be as simple or as complex as you need it to be. You can start by adding or removing columns, changing column types, and configuring views. Similarly, you can add items to your list by selecting “New” and entering the data for each column before saving the item. Starting with a blank list, grants you full control over your data’s structure site contents and organization, enabling the creation of a custom SharePoint List, tailored to your specific needs.

Creating a SharePoint List from a Template

SharePoint List templates offer a convenient starting point for creating lists, as they come pre-configured with specific columns and settings tailored to various use cases. Microsoft offers a variety of templates, such as:

  • Asset Manager
  • Content Scheduler
  • Event Itinerary
  • Issues Tracker
  • Recruitment Tracker
  • Work Progress Tracker

Additionally, you can import data from a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to create an Excel table or a SharePoint List. To manage these lists effectively, it’s essential to have a well-organized site contents page.

Once you’ve chosen to create a custom list template, you can modify it to suit your requirements by adding or removing columns, changing column types, and configuring views, rules, and workflows. Utilizing list templates can save time and effort, while still providing the benefit of available customization options in SharePoint Lists.

Using pre-defined templates can help you create a SharePoint List quickly and easily, without having to start from scratch. Here is how you can create a SharePoint List from a template:

  1. Open your SharePoint site and navigate to the site contents page.
  2. Click on the add an app button.
  3. Select the List option and click on any existing template.
  4. Choose a pre-defined template (such as Announcements, Task lists, etc.) that matches your List needs.
  5. Edit the List according to your requirements.
  6. Click save when you are done.

More on creating lists using PowerShell is here: How to Create a SharePoint List using PowerShell?

SharePoint List Management

Managing SharePoint Lists involves creating, configuring, and customizing lists to suit specific business needs. It also involves setting up permissions and access control to ensure data privacy and security.

SharePoint List can be managed through the SharePoint web interface or by using SharePoint Designer, which provides more advanced capabilities for customizing list forms and workflows. Users can also create custom views to display data in a specific way, such as sorting by date or filtering by status.

Adding Columns to a List

One of the most basic ways to customize your SharePoint List is by adding fields. SharePoint allows you to create new fields or choose from a wide range of predefined field types, such as text, choice, date/time, and more. By adding custom fields, you can capture specific data that is unique to your business needs and streamline data entry.

To add a column to a list, follow these steps:

  1. Open the list you want to add a column to.
  2. Click on the “Settings” icon and select “List settings”.
  3. Under the “Columns” section, click “Add a column”.
  4. Choose the desired column type and provide a name for the column.
  5. Optionally, you can set additional properties such as the column format, default value, and description.

In modern lists, you can add a new column to the list by clicking the “Add Column” link on the list view.

add a field to sharepoint list

If you want to add multiple columns using PowerShell, refer: How to Add a Column to List in SharePoint Online Using PowerShell?

Create a list by Importing from Excel

If you have data in an Excel spreadsheet that you want to use to create a SharePoint list, you can import it directly into SharePoint.

To import data from Excel, follow these steps:

  1. Open the SharePoint site where you want to create the list.
  2. Click on the “Settings” icon and select “Add an app”.
  3. Select “Import Spreadsheet” from the available options.
  4. Choose the Excel file you want to import and follow the prompts to map the columns and create the list.

Deleting Columns in a SharePoint List

Navigate to the list settings and select the column you wish to delete and hit delete button, its that simple! Remember, deleting a column will remove all associated data in that column. More here: How to Delete a Column from SharePoint Online List using PowerShell?

Inserting, editing, and deleting items in a SharePoint list

SharePoint lists store data as items, which represent rows of data. Users can add, modify, and remove items from a list to manage the data. Adding items to a SharePoint list is a fundamental task for managing and organizing data within the SharePoint platform. This process is user-friendly and can be quickly learned by users at any level of SharePoint proficiency. Here’s a step-by-step guide to adding items to a SharePoint list:

Inserting Items

  • Navigate to your SharePoint server or SharePoint Online site >> Locate and open the specific list where you want to add the item.
  • To add a new item, find the ribbon control and select “Add new item”
  • A form will appear with various fields corresponding to the columns you’ve set up in your list. These fields might include text boxes, date pickers, dropdown menus, checkboxes, etc.
  • Enter the relevant data in each field. For example, if it’s a task list, you might fill in details like task name, description, due date, and assigned to. Select “Save” to insert the item in the list. Attach Files (If Applicable).
  • Default columns like ID, Created, and Modified will auto-populate
  • Validation rules can constrain entries or enforce specific formats

If you want to add multiple list items through PowerShell, Here is the post for you: How to Add New SharePoint Online List Items using PowerShell?

Editing Items

  • To edit an existing item, open it from the list view and select “Edit Item”
  • The item form view opens, with current values for that item loaded
  • Make any changes to text, numbers, dates, and other updatable fields
  • Choose “Save” to commit the edited values to the database
  • Versions and history can track changes and show previous values

You can also use the Grid view to bulk edit multiple list items. The PowerShell approach to update multiple items is explained in another article: How to Update List Items in SharePoint Online using PowerShell?

Deleting Items

  • Items can easily be deleted to remove them permanently
  • Checkboxes next to items allow bulk selecting entries
  • Use the “Delete” command after selecting one or more items
  • Alternatively, delete an open item with the “Delete Item” menu option
  • Deleted items cannot be recovered without restoring from backups

These are the basic actions for managing individual items stored within SharePoint lists. Mastering insert, update and delete allows flexibly maintaining accurate business data. Want to automate it? Sure: How to Delete a List Item in SharePoint Online using PowerShell?

Adding Attachments to a SharePoint List

SharePoint Lists allow users to attach files to list items, providing additional context and supporting documentation. To add attachments to a SharePoint List, follow these steps:

  1. Open the SharePoint List: Navigate to the SharePoint List where you want to add attachments.
  2. Click on the desired list item: Select the list item to which you want to add attachments.
  3. Click on the “Attachments” button: In the list item toolbar, click on the “Attachments” button to open the attachments panel.
  4. Click on “Attach File”: In the attachments panel, click on the “Attach File” button.
  5. Select the file to attach: Choose the file you want to attach from your computer and click “OK”.
  6. Repeat for additional attachments: If you want to add more attachments, repeat steps 4 and 5.
  7. Click “OK” to save the attachments: Once you have added all the desired attachments, click on the “OK” button to save them.
add attachments to sharepoint list item

BTW, you must enable the Attachments to be able to add attachments to SharePoint Lists.

Alerts and notifications to enable collaboration

SharePoint lists provide alerts to notify users of changes and updates. Users can subscribe to alerts at the list, view, or item level. Alerts are triggered when items are created, changed, or deleted. They can inform of additions/removals from a view or membership changes, Typically emailed to subscribers according to a schedule or immediately.

The SharePoint Notifications menu shows recent activities and updates. For example, recent edits, following status, @mentions, shares, likes.

Customize SharePoint List Views

sharepoint list view

SharePoint Lists are an effective way to store and manage data, but making sense of that data can be challenging. That’s where SharePoint List views come in. Views give you the ability to filter, sort, group, and display data in a way that makes sense for your business needs. In this section, we’ll explore the various ways to enhance SharePoint List views for better data visualization and navigation.

Sorting and Filtering

One of the most common ways to enhance SharePoint List views is through sorting and filtering. Sorting allows you to order items in a list by a specific field, such as date, alphabetical order, or status. Filtering allows you to show only the items that meet specific criteria, such as those created in the last week or assigned to a specific person.

To sort a SharePoint List, click on the column header you want to sort by. You can click once to sort in ascending order or twice to sort in descending order. To filter a SharePoint List, click on the filter icon next to the column header. You can select from a range of filter options, such as text filters, date filters, or number filters.


Grouping allows you to group items in a SharePoint List by a specific field, such as category or department. This can provide a more organized and meaningful view of your data. To group a SharePoint List, click on the column header you want to group by, and select “Group By This Field” from the menu.

Creating Custom Views

If the standard views in SharePoint List don’t meet your needs, you can create custom views that display only the data you need. To create a custom view, click on the gear icon in the top-right corner of the list page, and select “List Settings”. From there, select “Create View” and follow the prompts. You can choose which columns to display, set sorting and filtering options, and even give your view a custom name.

SharePoint allows you to customize the view of a list or library to display only the information that is relevant to you. You can add, remove, and reorder columns, apply filters and sorting, and even create custom views.

To customize the view of a list, follow these steps:

  1. Open the list you want to customize.
  2. Click on the “Settings” icon and select “List settings”.
  3. Under the “Views” section, click “Create view”.
  4. Choose the desired view type and configure the columns, filters, and sorting options.
  5. Optionally, you can set the view as the default view or make it available to specific groups of people.

In conclusion, creating a SharePoint list is a straightforward process that can be customized to fit your specific needs. By using list templates, adding columns, importing from Excel, and customizing list views, you can organize and control your information more effectively. More here: SharePoint Online: PowerShell to Create a List View

Conditional Formatting in List Views

Conditional formatting in list views enables you to apply styles, classes, or icons to fields based on the values within those fields, allowing you to visually highlight or emphasize certain data according to specific conditions.

To create custom views and apply conditional formatting in SharePoint Lists, you can follow these steps:

  1. Access the column settings of the list.
  2. Choose the “Format this column” option.
  3. Select “Conditional formatting” under “Format column”.
  4. Manage rules and modify the formatting settings to achieve the desired visual effects.

Utilizing views and conditional formatting enhances data visibility and simplifies data analysis site collection and interpretation, displaying data within your list.

Managing SharePoint List Permissions

Managing SharePoint List permissions is a critical aspect of maintaining data privacy and ensuring the security of your organization’s confidential information. SharePoint List permissions define access rights to the list and its data for individual users or groups. By granting permissions at the right level, you can ensure that only authorized users can view, edit, or delete data within the list.

Understanding SharePoint List Permission Levels

SharePoint List has several built-in permission levels that you can assign to users or groups to control their access to the list. The typical permission levels are:

  • Full Control: Users with Full Control permission can perform all tasks, including managing permissions, deleting the list, and modifying the structure and settings of the list.
  • Edit: Users with edit permission can add, edit, and delete items in the list. They can modify the structure and settings of the list as well.
  • Read: Users with Read permission can view items in the list but cannot add, edit, or delete items.

By default, SharePoint List has three groups with specific permission levels:

  • Owners: The Owners group has Full Control permission by default and can manage permissions for the list.
  • Members: The Members group has edit permission by default and can edit items in the list.
  • Visitors: The Visitors group has read permission by default and can view items in the list.

Granting and Revoking SharePoint List Permissions

To configure list permissions in SharePoint, follow these steps:

  1. Open the list settings: Navigate to the SharePoint site and open the desired list. Click on the “Settings” gear icon located in the top-right corner, then select “List settings” from the dropdown menu.
  2. Click on “Permissions for this list”: In the list settings page, scroll down to the “Permissions and Management” section, and click on the “Permissions for this list” link.
  3. Manage permissions: SharePoint will open the list permissions page, where you can manage permissions for individual users or groups. You can assign permissions to users or groups, set their permission levels (such as read, contribute, or full control), and define any additional restrictions or conditions.

Effectively managing permissions and access control helps to keep your organization’s data secure and accessible to authorized users. Read more: How to Grant Permission to List or Library in SharePoint Online using PowerShell?

What are some best practices for managing SharePoint List permissions?

Some best practices for managing SharePoint List permissions include granting access at the appropriate level (site, list, or item), using SharePoint groups to simplify permission management, regularly reviewing permissions to ensure they align with business needs, and leveraging SharePoint’s version history and audit logs to track and monitor user activities.

When managing SharePoint List permissions, it is essential to follow best practices to ensure data privacy and security. Here are a few tips:

  • Grant permissions at the lowest level required: Only grant permissions that are necessary for users to perform their tasks. Avoid granting Full Control permission to users unless they need to manage the list structure and settings.
  • Create custom permission levels: You can create custom permission levels to suit your organization’s unique needs. For example, you can create a permission level that allows users to view items but not edit or delete them.
  • Regularly review and update permissions: Review your list’s permissions regularly to ensure that users have the appropriate level of access and that there are no unauthorized users with access to the list.

Integrating SharePoint Lists with Microsoft 365

share a list in sharepoint

Integrating SharePoint Lists with Microsoft 365 apps and services enables seamless collaboration and data management across your organization. By connecting your SharePoint Lists with other Microsoft products, such as Planner, To Do, and Power Apps, you can access and manage your data from a single platform, improving efficiency and productivity.

SharePoint Lists can be seamlessly incorporated with other Microsoft 365 products, such as Power BI and Power Automate, to facilitate custom reporting and workflow automation based on data entered into the list. By integrating SharePoint Lists with Microsoft 365, you can unlock new possibilities for collaboration, data management, and automation within your organization. Here, we will explore the different ways in which you can integrate SharePoint List with other tools such as Excel, Power BI, and Outlook.

SharePoint Lists and Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a collaboration platform that allows us to work together seamlessly. We can use SharePoint lists within Teams to manage our data and collaborate with our colleagues. To add a list to Teams, we can go to the channel where we want to add it, select the “+” icon, and then choose “Lists.” From there, we can choose an existing list or create a new one.

SharePoint Lists can be a valuable addition to your Microsoft Teams workspace, allowing you to track information, organize work, and manage workflows without needing to switch between products. By integrating SharePoint Lists with Microsoft Teams, you can create a more cohesive and efficient work environment for your team members.

Using the Lists App in Microsoft 365

The Lists app in Microsoft 365 is a powerful tool for managing our data. With the Lists app, we can create new lists, view our existing lists, and manage our data. We can also use the Lists app to create custom views, customize the color and formatting of our lists, and filter our data. To access the Lists app, we can go to the Microsoft 365 homepage and select “Lists” from the app launcher.

Automation with Power Automate

Power Automate (formerly known as Microsoft Flow) is a powerful tool for automating workflows in SharePoint. With Power Automate, we can create custom workflows that automate tasks such as sending emails, updating list items, and creating new items based on certain conditions. To create a new flow, we can go to the Power Automate website and select “Create from blank.” From there, we can choose our triggers and actions and define any necessary conditions.

Exporting a SharePoint List to Excel

Exporting a SharePoint list to Excel is a useful feature that allows you to analyze and manipulate the list data offline. To export a SharePoint list to Excel, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the SharePoint List you want to export.
  2. Click on the List tab.
  3. Click on the Export to Excel button.
    export sharepoint list to excel
  4. Open the exported query file and import the data from the SharePoint list to Excel.

Once exported, you can open the Excel file and work with the data using Excel’s powerful features, such as formulas, charts, and pivot tables. If you want to automate the process of exporting SharePoint list items to Excel, use: How to Export SharePoint Online List Items to CSV using PowerShell?

Power BI Integration

Power BI is a data visualization tool that allows you to create interactive reports and dashboards using your SharePoint List data. To integrate SharePoint List with Power BI, follow these steps:

  1. Open Power BI.
  2. Click on Get Data and select SharePoint Online List.
  3. Enter the URL of your SharePoint site and select the list you want to connect to.
  4. Click Connect.

You can now use the data from your SharePoint List to create interactive reports and dashboards in Power BI. Here is how to connect to PowerBI and build a report from SharePoint Online List data: How to Create a Power BI report from SharePoint List?

Outlook Integration

You can use SharePoint Calendar List to manage schedules and deadlines and integrate them with Outlook to ensure you never miss a deadline. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open the SharePoint calendar or classic list that contains the data you want to integrate with Outlook.
  2. Click on the List tab and select Connect to Outlook.
  3. Click Yes when prompted to allow access to Outlook.

Once you have connected your SharePoint List to Outlook, you can manage your tasks and deadlines directly from your Outlook calendar view.

In conclusion, integrating SharePoint List with other Microsoft tools can significantly improve your productivity and streamline your workflow. Whether you are analyzing Excel data, creating Power BI reports, or managing tasks in Outlook, SharePoint List provides a seamless integration experience.

Managing SharePoint Lists

sharepoint list

SharePoint Lists offer extensive customization options, allowing you to tailor them to your specific needs. Let’s explore some common customization tasks:

Tracking Changes with Versioning

As we work with SharePoint lists, it can be helpful to track changes and versions of the list. SharePoint provides a number of tools for doing this, including version history and content approval. Version history allows us to see previous versions of a list and restore them if necessary. Content approval allows us to require that changes to a list be approved by someone before they are published.

Version history is a valuable feature in SharePoint lists that allows you to track and manage changes made to list items over time. With version history, you can easily view and restore previous versions of a list item, ensuring data integrity and providing a comprehensive audit trail. By using version history, we can keep track of changes to our SharePoint lists and ensure that they are accurate and up-to-date.

Restoring Deleted Items

Accidentally deleting items in SharePoint Lists can be a common occurrence, but fortunately, there are ways to restore these items and recover your data. Deleted items can be restored from the SharePoint site or recycle bin page, allowing you to retrieve your lost data quickly and easily.

To restore a deleted list item in the SharePoint site recycle bin, follow these steps:

  1. Open the list where the item was deleted.
  2. Navigate to the Recycle Bin.
  3. Select the deleted item.
  4. Click ‘Restore’ to place it back in its original location.

Understanding how to restore deleted items can help minimize data loss and preserve the data integrity of stored data on your SharePoint Lists. If you want to restore multiple files, You can seek help from PowerShell: How to Restore Deleted Files from Recycle Bin in SharePoint Online using PowerShell?

Editing and Deleting Lists

When working with SharePoint lists, we may need to edit or delete them from time to time. To edit a list, we can simply click on the list name and select “Edit List” from the menu. This will take us to the list settings page, where we can make changes to the list name, description, and other settings.

To delete a SharePoint list, navigate to the >> Click on Settings >> List Settings. On the list settings page, click on “Delete this list” and confirm the prompt.

delete sharepoint list

More here: How to Delete a List in SharePoint Online using PowerShell?

Leveraging Formulas in SharePoint Lists

Formulas are a powerful feature in SharePoint Lists, allowing you to perform calculations, automate processes, and create dynamic views. Here are some ways you can leverage formulas in SharePoint Lists:

  1. Calculated Columns: SharePoint Lists allow you to create calculated columns that derive their values from other columns in the list. You can use formulas to perform mathematical calculations, concatenate text, extract substrings, etc.
  2. Conditional Formatting: SharePoint Lists enable you to apply conditional formatting based on specific criteria. By using formulas, you can highlight rows, change font colors, or apply custom formatting to make certain data stand out.
  3. Validation Rules: SharePoint Lists support data validation rules to ensure the accuracy and integrity of data. You can use formulas to define validation rules that restrict the input values based on specific conditions.

Using Content Types

Content types are a powerful way to manage information within SharePoint. With content types, we can define specific metadata, templates, and workflows for different types of items in our list. This allows us to categorize our data and streamline our processes. To create a new content type, we can go to the List Settings page, select “Advanced settings,” and then “Content types.” From there, we can create a new content type and define its properties.

Rules and Workflow Automation

Creating rules and automating workflows in your SharePoint libraries and lists can significantly streamline your data management processes and enforce business rules. SharePoint lists support validation rules that ensure the accuracy and integrity of data. You can set up rules to validate the format, range, or uniqueness of values entered in a column.

With tools like Power Automate, you can set up workflows for your lists and libraries, automating tasks such as approvals, feedback collection, and issue tracking. By defining specific actions based on conditions, such as sending notifications, updating fields, or initiating approval processes, rules and workflow automation help to automate and standardize processes, improve efficiency, and ensure consistency in data management.

To create rules in SharePoint Lists using Power Automate, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to your list and click on “Automate” in the toolbar.
  2. Select “Rules” and then “Create a rule”.
  3. Specify the trigger for the rule.
  4. Establish the conditions that need to be met for the rule to be triggered.
  5. Configure the actions that should be executed when the rule is triggered.

Using Power Automate to create and manage rules not only enhances the functionality of your SharePoint Lists but also optimizes your workflow automation efforts.

Copying a SharePoint List

To replicate a SharePoint list, you can save the list as a template and then create a new list from this template. You can also create new lists from existing lists in SharePoint Online. Just create a new list >> pick “From existing list” on the list creation page, select any existing list from any site.

copy a list in sharepoint

Automation with Power Automate

Power Automate (formerly known as Microsoft Flow) is a powerful tool for automating workflows in SharePoint. With Power Automate, we can create custom workflows that automate tasks such as sending emails, updating list items, and creating new items based on certain conditions. To create a new flow, we can go to the Power Automate website and select “Create from blank.” From there, we can choose our trigger and actions and define any necessary conditions.

Best Practices for SharePoint List Management

When managing SharePoint Lists, it’s essential to follow best practices to ensure data accuracy, consistency, and compliance. In this section, we will share some of the most effective SharePoint List best practices.

Establish Data Governance Policies

To ensure data quality and accuracy, it’s crucial to establish data governance policies. These policies should outline how data will be collected, stored, and accessed. They should also include guidelines on data security, user permissions, and version control.

Implement Versioning

Versioning allows you to keep track of changes made to your SharePoint Lists. This is particularly useful when working on collaborative projects or when multiple people have access to a list. By implementing versioning, you can easily track changes and restore previous versions if necessary.

Regularly Backup SharePoint Lists

Regular backups are essential to ensure that your SharePoint Lists are secure and can be easily restored in case of data loss. It’s important to establish a backup schedule and to test restoration procedures to ensure that everything is working correctly.

Use indexed columns

Indexing columns that are frequently used for sorting or filtering can significantly improve the performance of your SharePoint list.

Use Metadata to Improve Searchability

Metadata provides additional information about the items in your SharePoint List. By using metadata, you can improve the searchability of your list and make it easier for users to find the information they need quickly. Make sure to use meaningful metadata that accurately represents each item in your list.

Limit the Number of Columns in a List

While it may be tempting to add as many columns as possible to a SharePoint List, it’s important to limit the number of columns to improve performance and usability. Try to keep the number of columns to a minimum and remove any columns that are no longer needed.

Regularly Review and Clean Up Lists

Regularly reviewing and cleaning up your SharePoint Lists can help improve performance and ensure that they remain accurate and up-to-date. Remove any outdated or unnecessary items, and perform regular maintenance tasks such as purging the recycle bin.

Train Users on SharePoint List Best Practices

Finally, it’s essential to train users on SharePoint List best practices to ensure that everyone is using the lists correctly and following established policies and procedures. Providing training and guidance can help improve efficiency, reduce errors, and ensure compliance.

Implement folder structure

As mentioned earlier, organizing your data with folders can help improve performance, especially when dealing with large lists.

By understanding the limits and implementing best practices, you can ensure that your SharePoint lists perform efficiently and meet your business requirements.

Optimizing SharePoint Lists

SharePoint Lists can sometimes suffer from slow performance and poor user experience, particularly when dealing with large datasets. In this section, we will discuss advanced techniques for optimizing SharePoint Lists to improve performance and design.

Designing Efficient Lists

The key to optimizing SharePoint Lists is to design them efficiently, keeping in mind the data retrieval and storage requirements. Here are some best practices for list design:

  • Avoid using too many lookup columns, which can slow down data retrieval.
  • Use indexed columns for columns that are frequently used for sorting or filtering.
  • Limit the number of columns in a list to improve performance.

By following these best practices, you can create SharePoint Lists that are optimized for fast performance and efficient data retrieval.

Indexing Columns for Better Performance

Indexing columns provide a faster way to search, sort, and filter data in SharePoint Lists. Here are the steps to index a column:

  1. Go to the SharePoint List and select the List Settings option.
  2. Select the Indexed Columns option under the Columns section.
  3. Select the column you want to index and click on Create.

Indexing columns can significantly improve performance, particularly when dealing with large datasets.

Managing Large Datasets

When dealing with large datasets, it’s important to manage them efficiently to prevent performance issues. Here are some best practices for managing large datasets:

  • Divide the data into multiple lists to improve performance.
  • Use folder views to improve navigation.
  • Use filters to display a subset of data.

By adopting these techniques, you can effectively manage large datasets in SharePoint Lists and improve performance.

Optimizing SharePoint Lists can significantly improve performance and user experience. By following the best practices for list design, indexing columns, and managing large datasets, you can create SharePoint Lists that are efficient, fast, and optimized for performance.

SharePoint List Limits

Understanding SharePoint List Limits is crucial for efficient SharePoint management and optimal performance. Below, we explore the key aspects of these limits and provide best practices to work within these constraints.

  1. Item Limit: The most significant limit is the number of items a list can hold. SharePoint supports up to 30 million items per list, but there are practical considerations to bear in mind for performance reasons.
  2. View Threshold: By default, the list view threshold is set at 5,000 items. This limit is in place to ensure the performance of the SharePoint site. When a view exceeds this limit, SharePoint may display a threshold error.
  3. Column Limit: There are limits to the number of each type of column you can have in a list. For example, a list can have up to 12 lookup columns.
  4. File Size Limit: For attachments to list items, SharePoint has a maximum file size limit, typically set at 250 MB per file.
  5. Index Limit: SharePoint allows a maximum of 20,000 indexes per list.
  6. Unique Permissions Limit: There’s a limit to the number of unique permissions you can set for items within a list, typically 50,000 unique permissions.

Troubleshooting SharePoint List Issues

Working with SharePoint List can sometimes result in issues that need to be addressed promptly. Here are some common SharePoint List issues and troubleshooting tips to resolve them:

  • Slow Performance with Large Lists: Implement indexing on frequently used columns to improve query performance. Also, consider using filtered views to limit the number of items displayed at one time.
  • List View Threshold Exceeded: The default threshold is 5,000 items. To address this, you can create indexed columns and use them in your views to filter items. Alternatively, consider archiving old items to a different list or library.
  • Difficulty in Managing Permissions: Break inheritance and manage permissions at the list item level if necessary. Be cautious, as this can become complex. Using groups to manage permissions is more efficient than individual user permissions.
  • Data Loss Due to Overwriting: Enable versioning for the list to keep a history of changes. This allows you to restore previous versions if needed.
  • Trouble with Alerts Not Working: Ensure the SharePoint outgoing email settings are correctly configured. Check if the alerts are being filtered into spam folders in user’s email.
  • Access denied errors: Users may lack permissions. Review permission levels to ensure users have adequate access.
  • Synchronization Problems with SharePoint Offline: Check the user’s permissions, ensure they have adequate rights to synchronize. Also, verify the SharePoint and Office versions are compatible and up to date.
  • Customization Limitations with Out-of-the-Box Features: Utilize SharePoint Designer or Power Automate for more advanced customizations. However, be mindful of the complexity and maintenance implications.
  • Problems with Lookup Columns: There is a limit to the number of lookup columns you can use. Optimize and limit the use of lookup columns. Consider alternate designs if you’re reaching the threshold.
  • Difficulty in Finding Items in Large Lists: Use the search feature effectively by configuring searchable columns. Implementing metadata and views can also improve findability.
  • Mobile Accessibility Problems: Optimize list views for mobile devices. Use the modern SharePoint experience which is more mobile-friendly compared to the classic experience.

By following these troubleshooting tips, you can resolve common SharePoint List issues and ensure smooth and efficient list management. However, if you encounter any critical issues that cannot be resolved, it is best to contact your IT Admin or support team for assistance. More here:


In conclusion, Mastering the SharePoint List is essential to enhance productivity, streamline tasks, and improve collaboration within an organization. Through this comprehensive guide, we have explored the basics of SharePoint List, its purpose, and its capabilities. We have guided you through the steps to create SharePoint Lists, customize them to fit your organization’s unique requirements, and manage permissions to ensure data security.

By understanding the ins and outs of SharePoint Lists, from their purpose and structure to advanced features and integration with Microsoft 365, you can unlock the full potential of this dynamic data management solution. Furthermore, we have covered advanced techniques for optimizing SharePoint Lists, enhancing their views, integrating them with other Microsoft tools, and managing them efficiently. Whether you’re just getting started with SharePoint Lists or looking to optimize your existing lists, this comprehensive guide has provided you with the knowledge and tools needed to create, customize, and manage your lists effectively. So, embrace the power of SharePoint Lists and transform your organization’s data management experience today!

What is SharePoint List?

SharePoint List is a feature in Microsoft SharePoint that allows users to create, manage, and share structured data. It is a flexible tool that can be used for various purposes, such as tracking issues, managing tasks, or organizing information.

How can SharePoint List boost productivity?

SharePoint List can boost productivity by providing a centralized location for storing and managing data that can be accessed anywhere, any device. It allows users to create custom views, set up alerts for changes, and automate processes with workflows. This streamlines the flow of information, reduces manual effort, and enables efficient collaboration.

Can SharePoint List be customized?

Yes, SharePoint List can be customized to suit the specific needs of an organization. Users can customize lists by adding or removing fields, creating custom forms, and defining permissions. This flexibility ensures that SharePoint List adapts to the unique requirements of different business processes.

How do I create a SharePoint List?

To create a SharePoint List, navigate to the desired site in SharePoint, click on “Site Contents” or “Site Actions,” and select “Add an App” or “Add a List.” From there, you can choose from various list templates or create a blank list. Specify the name, description, and other settings, and click “Create.”

Can SharePoint List be integrated with other tools?

Yes, SharePoint List can be integrated with other Microsoft tools, such as Excel, Power BI, and Outlook. This integration allows for seamless data exchange and collaboration between different applications. For example, you can export a SharePoint List to Excel for further analysis or create automated workflows that trigger actions in Outlook based on changes in a SharePoint List.

What are SharePoint lists used for?

SharePoint lists are a convenient and flexible way to store and display data in the Microsoft 365 digital workplace. They provide various options for formatting, access, and workflows, making them easy to use and manage.

What are the key differences between SharePoint Lists and Document Libraries?

SharePoint Lists and Document Libraries are both fundamental components of SharePoint, but they serve different purposes. A SharePoint list is similar to a table in Excel or a database, composed of rows (data) and columns (metadata). It is best suited for structured data and workflow automation. On the other hand, a SharePoint Document Library is designed to handle documents and is essentially a particular type of list that is optimized for document management and collaboration. It allows for features such as document preview, check-in and check-out, version control, and metadata tagging.

What are the limitations of a SharePoint list?

SharePoint lists have some limitations, such as a maximum item limit of 30 million items per list, a maximum file size limit of 250 MB, and limited support for complex data types. Additionally, SharePoint lists may not be suitable for certain types of data, such as large binary files or data that require complex relationships.

How can I customize the form for a SharePoint list?

You can customize the form for a modern SharePoint list using Power Apps (SharePoint Designer for classic lists). These tools allow you to create custom forms with advanced functionality, such as conditional formatting, validation rules, and data connections to external systems.

What is the difference between Microsoft Lists and SharePoint lists?

Microsoft Lists is a newer service that builds on SharePoint lists and provides additional features such as templates, rules, and views. While SharePoint lists are primarily used within SharePoint sites, Microsoft Lists are standalone apps that can be accessed from other Microsoft apps such as Teams and Outlook. Microsoft Lists are saved in OneDrive by default.

Salaudeen Rajack

Salaudeen Rajack - Information Technology Expert with Two-decades of hands-on experience, specializing in SharePoint, PowerShell, Microsoft 365, and related products. He has held various positions including SharePoint Architect, Administrator, Developer and consultant, has helped many organizations to implement and optimize SharePoint solutions. Known for his deep technical expertise, He's passionate about sharing the knowledge and insights to help others, through the real-world articles!

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