SharePoint How-To Series: Enhanced Content Types

SharePoint How-To Series: Enhanced Content Types

Here's a step-by-step guide to increasing the value of content types.

In our last three posts, we examined some of the core building blocks of SharePoint--namely, Content Types, Site Columns and Managed Metadata.

A Content Type is really the core construct of everything in SharePoint--from a document, item or a page, it is the same. In our post on Content Types we demonstrated how to create a single content type with multiple site columns associated to it. However, we did not utilize the taxonomy site columns within that Content Type.

So, to begin with, let’s go back to the Term Store Management and modify what we have.


This is really showing the power of term sets and what we can do with them, so let’s create a new set that makes a little more sense. Using the same group, right click and choose “New Term Set.”


We will call this one “Demographics.”

Now we can start to add values manually. However, if we want to import the root term set, we can use the built-in import process. To do this, first we need to download the sample file.

This is done by selecting the root node “Managed Metadata Service” and clicking the link on the right for “View a sample import file.”

A CSV file that can be modified and imported back will now be downloaded.

Opening this file shows the structure needed for an import file.

To see what this actually looks like, we can import it back into the Term Store. First, we need to create a new Group called “Imported Taxonomy,” then right-click and choose “Import Term Set.” Browse to the downloaded CSV file and choose "OK.”

Once imported, the console will refresh and display the following structure.

A full structure is created and is now available to use. So, let’s use this structure within a new site column. Within the content type click “Add from new site column.”

We created a "Managed Metadata” column that we called “DemoTaxonomy.”


When selected, the page will refresh and display the options for setting the column to use these values.

Display format can be either the single value or the path to the value. So, our values could be:

Single Value – Hamlet

Full Hierarchical Path – Continent > Political Entity > Country > Province or State > County or Region > Hamlet

Once the values are created, click “OK.” This will send you back to the content type with the new column now listed.


As before, simply go back to editing the item properties in the browser and the new column should be displayed.

To populate the value, type the value or use the picker, which is accessed from the icon next to the control.

Selecting the value and pressing “Save” will update this property. Because we chose to display the full path, the value selected is actually displayed like this:


Now that we have this column it can be used cross content types, cross sites, cross site collections and Web applications. This means we can create a global taxonomy that can be used everywhere. The column can also be used in conjunction with the global “Enterprise Keywords” column to save the selected values directly as social tags that can appear in the social features of SharePoint.

Once this setting is applied, the “Enterprise Keywords” column is added to the list and the forms.

Once added, these values will get picked up by internal processes of SharePoint and added to the social capabilities of SharePoint.

All in all, adding even a single column of Taxonomy Values will transform the content type into what I call “Enhanced Content Types.” This can be achieved by adding anything other than normal fields, such as Business Data Connectivity fields that pull in line-of-business data. This can significantly enhance the value of content types.

Don’t forget the upcoming webinar on SharePoint for Beginners, where we will cover even more. You can register here:


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