SharePoint Sites & Sub Sites

SharePoint Sites

A SharePoint site is a website Collection of Pages, Site Templates, Lists, & Libraries configured for the purpose of achieving an express goal.  That may be a little vague, but there’s not much else to them.  SharePoint follows a hierarchy of sorts that flows from the top-down.  Sites usually have sub sites as well which are made for more specific reasons. Here are a couple of examples of sites in an easily-understandable manner.

Note: Sites are Different than Site Collections.  See the breakdown of differences in this Article.

Probably the best way to explain sites is to use Google.  The top-level site is  The specific purpose of it is to help users find information on the internet.  There are sub-sites of, like google image search, google maps, google plus, and google shopping.

There is one more key point to remember.  Because sites are created for a specific purpose, all of the sub sites below will relate to it parent site above it in some way, shape, or form.

Here’s another example.  If you’re on Sharepoint online, you should SERIOUSLY consider using site collections instead of Sub-Sites.

Biff’s Consulting Firm has a top-level Site with some announcements, four department sites, and a search center.  All sites in this SharePoint Deployment are related to Biff’s Consulting Firm.  Each Department has sub sites, which are related to that department, but are for a specific task or to achieve a specific goal.


NOTE: Since this video was published about 4 years ago, I’ve updated the outlining below to show how this should be done.  Subsites should be TEAMS sites or site collections.  It really depends on how you’re setting things up, as well as how large your organization is.  There’s no wrong way to do this, but it’s harder to back up and change how things are laid out once they’ve been put into motion. 

  • Biff’s Consulting Firm
    • Marketing Department Site (collection)
      • Print Campaign (teams) site
      • Online Campaign (teams) site
      • Radio Campaign (teams) site
    • IT Department Site (collection)
      • Support (teams) Site
      • Asset Tracking (teams) Site
      • IT Project (teams) Site
    • Accounting Department Site (collection)
      • Accounts Payable (teams) Site
      • Accounts Receivable (teams) Site
      • Budget Committee (teams) Site
    • HR Department Site (collection)
      • Records (teams) Site
      • PR (teams) Site
    • Search Center (Site Collection)

So, you can see how sites fit into the grand scheme of things.  We’ll use Biff’s Consulting Firm as our course-centric example through the rest of the lessons.  I’ll elaborate a little further on SharePoint sites in the video.

Build a SharePoint Site

Build a SharePoint Site

Programming, coding, geek-speak, jargon… that’s all it is.  I bet if I told you that you could build a website in five minutes you wouldn’t believe me.  From my perspective, as a member of an IT department, SharePoint is a godsend.  SharePoint let’s an employee do everything that a web developer could do in a fraction of the time.

You’re telling me I can write code?   What’s the catch?
The first thing I want to say is you must drop any preconceived ideas or notions you have about building a website, webpage, or related material.  You can and will build websites, libraries, workflows, and web-applications without any knowledge of programming language, coding, or really any IT experience.  I’ll tell you right now that anything I show you going forward in this lesson requires ZERO experience in anything except, maybe, a web-browser and a word processor. Seriously!


Let’s start with a simple task: Create a SharePoint site.
From the previous lesson, we’ve learned that a site is a collection of pages, site templates, lists, and libraries configured for the purpose of achieving an express goal.  So let’s set that goal right now.  We are now working for Biff’s Consulting Company in the accounting department, and we need a subsite for accounting. Let’s assume we already have a top-level site created.

So how do we make the subsite? 

  • Browse to the top-level site
  • Click on the GEAR symbol.  You’ll see a menu come down, and you’ll want to click the option for “Site Contents.”
  • Once we click that, we’ll want to scroll down and under the Subsites section we’ll find the link that says “New Subsite” and click it.
    • Title & Description
      You’ll be prompted for a title and description.  We’ll put in “Accounting” for the title (description is optional, and not extremely important)
    • Web Site Address
      Take note of the URL name for a moment.  You’ll see your top-level site address with a blank text box after it, that’s what the site will be listed under.  Put “Accounting” in the box.
    • Language & Template
      We’ll be using English and “Team Site” for our language and template.
    • Permissions
      You can inherit permissions, or set specific permissions.  You may want to talk to your IT Department about how this should be setup, because there are a lot of ways to do this.  For now, let’s choose “Use the same permissions as parent site”
    • Navigation
      If you want your site to be listed on the quick launch (The menu on the right side of the screen) select “Yes” here.  For a department subsite, you’ll probably want to choose yes.
      Likewise, you’ll most-likely want to “Display on the top link bar of the parent site” so set that to Yes as well.
    • Navigation Inheritance
      Selecting “Yes” here will put use the same top-link bar menu as the parent site.  I will almost always use this.
    • Click “Create”
      You’ll be taken to your new site!

So that’s the way you do it– with no coding required.  Dare I say, it’s “EASY!”

Check out the video for a walkthrough of what we just did.

Create a Custom SharePoint List View

Create a Custom SharePoint List View

SharePoint® lets you create multiple views for the same app (list or library).  Let’s take a look at how easy it is to create a custom view for a document library.

  • Click the GEAR icon in the top-right of your screen
  • Select “Site Contents”
  • In the list of apps, select the document library you want to use to create a custom view.
  • On the library page look for a link that says “All Items” and click the three dots next to it “…”
  • In the menu that appears, click “Create View” (You can modify a view too, but we’ll create one)
  • Select “Standard View”
  • Enter “Only Filename” in the name field.
  • Check the box for “Public view”

On that screen, there’s criteria below that you can apply to your list. Here are the options:

  • Columns
    You can select which columns, and in what order you want them to appear
  • Sort
    Determine what column, and in what direction you want documents sorted, you can also setup multiple criteria here
  • Filter
    You can filter documents to only display documents that fit the criteria
  • Tabular View
    This option gives users the option to select multiple files with check boxes.
  • Group By
    Similar to filter, except all documents are shown in a “Tree view” by certain columns
  • Totals
    This will allow you to select a mathematical operation on columns, such as sum, average, and count
  • Style
    You can specify the way the library appears on the page.
  • Folders
    This one is pretty cool, you can choose to display folders, or show all files within folders in a giant list.
  • Item Limit
    You can set an limit here to only display a certain number of items
  • Mobile
    You can set options for using this view with mobile devices here

We’ll use the columns group for this example.

  • Under columns, uncheck all options except for
    • Type (icon)
    • Name
  • Change name’s dropdown value to 1
  • Type will change automatically to 2

Click “OK” at the bottom of the page and you’ll be taken back to the library, and you’ll notice the new view has been applied.

You can switch back to “All Documents” by clicking on the link.  Each view also has its own web address, so you can send an email with the URL to that view and others can go directly to it.  They can also switch between them as well.

Take a look at the video for more details on creating views.

Build a Custom SharePoint List

Build a Custom SharePoint List

We’ve covered a lot about SharePoint lists in this course.  You’ve learned that a SharePoint list is a collection of pieces of information– all of which have the same properties.  Let’s move on to what kind of lists SharePoint has built-in.

Built-in lists

  • Announcements
  • Contacts
  • Custom List
  • Custom List in Datasheet view
  • External list
  • Links
  • Promoted Links
  • Issue Tracking
  • Tasks
  • Import from Spreadsheet

You can use any of these right out of the box, as they are some of the most commonly used apps in the SharePoint world.  They are already setup and ready to use in your site immediately. Most of them are self-explanatory, but by just creating one and playing around with it you should be able to understand the functionality the offer.


Making a custom list
You probably weren’t too surprised to find that a Grocery List was not one of the built-in lists.  This is fine, we’ll just have to create a Custom List.

  • Click on Custom List
  • Give your list a name (Shopping List), and if desired click “Advanced Options”, and enter a description

You’ll be taken to the list, and you will see that you have a column (Title) created for you.

  • Click “+ New item”
  • Enter a title, “Eggs”

We’d like to create more columns to capture specific information about these items.

  • Click “edit” in “edit this list”
  • A grid will pop-up where the list was.  This is the datasheet view mentioned above.
  • Hover your mouse over “Title” and in the column header.
  • Click “Rename Column”
  • Change “Title” to “Item Name”
  • Then Click the “+” symbol on the left.
  • This displays 4 common column types, and an option for “More ColumnTypes…”, click More column types.
  • A window comes up with every column type that you can add.
  • Enter “Price” in the column name and select the “Currency” option.
  • We can make the field require input, enforce a unique value, min-max, and number of decimal places.
  • Select the option to make the column required
  • Click “OK”
  • Click “Stop” in Stop editing this list
  • Click “Eggs” under the item name column, and on the next page click on “Edit Item” in the top-left of your screen.
  • Enter a price for eggs.

Go ahead and add a few more items to the list with the “+ new item” link.  This way when we import and export in the next step we’ll have some data to work with. Feel free to add more columns in the same way.  Play with the options you have.  You can add a choice field for the name of the store, a yes/no box for coupon, and a text field for description—if you want.

Exporting a SharePoint list to Excel 
Now that we have our grocery list created in SharePoint with some columns and data, let’s see how we can export the list to Excel.

  • Click the GEAR symbol and click “Site Contents”
  • Go to your Shopping list.
  • When you open the list, you should see a “Ribbon” at the top of your screen with three tabs
    • Browse
      Hides the ribbon, and lets you browse through the site easily.
    • Items
      Contains commands that pertain to an item selected in the list
    • List
      Contains commands that pertain to the entire list.
  • Click the “List” tab.
  • Look for and click “Export to Excel” around the middle of the ribbon.
  • You’ll be asked to open or save the file.  Just open it for now.
  • Click “allow” or “enable” on any pop-ups you see. (You may need to enter your password as well)
  • You will now have a local copy of the list you can perform analysis on.

Remember, this is just a copy of the list.  If you edit the spreadsheet, you’re just editing the file, not the list.

Importing a Spreadsheet
One of the built-in list types we can use is Import a Spreadsheet.  I’ve created a sample spreadsheet you can save to your computer Here.  Download it and save it to a convenient place on your computer.

  • Go to the site in which you’ll be adding the list
  • Click the GEAR symbol in the top-right of your screen
  • Select “Add an App”
  • Select “Import Spreadsheet” from the available apps
  • Enter a name for your list, “My List”, and optionally, a description
  • Click “Browse” and select the file you saved earlier
  • Excel will ask you to select the range type and range. Leave the option as “Table Range”, and select the range listed in the box.
  • That’s it!  You’ll be taken to your imported list and be able to add items and columns immediately.

This was a long lesson, so have a coffee break, stand up and stretch, and when you’re ready, watch the video to review and see how it all works.


SharePoint List and Library Views

SharePoint List and Library Views

Now that we’ve covered the two most common SharePoint apps (Lists & Libraries) and we understand what they do and how they store and organize information into columns, the next thing to understand is how the information stored in the list or library is presented to users: views.

SharePoint uses views to display different information while maintaining the look and feel of an app.  So let’s use our grocery list again, only this time I’ll show you all of the information that list contains.

Store Item Name Section Description Price On Sale Coupon
Market St Bread Bakery Whole Wheat 3.99 No No
Market St Milk Dairy 2% Half-Gallon 2.49 No No
Market St Eggs Cold Foods Cage-free Organic 4.85 No Yes
Market St Dog Food Pet Supplies Purina Healthy Weight 12.69 Yes No
Target Towel Linens Egyptian Cotton 15.99 Yes Yes
Target Pillow Bedding Down Throw 24.99 No No


You might be saying “That isn’t the same list! There are two other columns, and two items have been added!”  Well, you’re partially correct.  Let’s pretend we entered the above list into SharePoint.

I would create a view (it’s really easy) which filters the items in the shopping list by the following criteria:

  • Only Show items from Market Street
  • Only Show the columns
    • Item Name
    • Description
    • Price
    • Coupon

Here’s what the shopping list in SharePoint would look like. The information is still stored in the list, but it’s filtered by certain criteria in the view I created. Pretty simple right?

Item Name Description Price Coupon
Bread Whole Wheat 3.99 No
Milk 2% Half-Gallon 2.49 No
Eggs Cage-free Organic 4.85 Yes
Dog Food Purina Healthy Weight 12.69 No


Views can be used with all libraries, lists, and most apps in SharePoint.  I’ll show some examples and give you an idea of exactly how creating views and switching between them works in the video.

SharePoint Versioning

SharePoint Versioning

I once worked for a client that would save every document with a time and date stamp in a big folder.  They told me they did that to know what the latest, most up-to-date version of it was.  When we implemented SharePoint, he found versioning once of the most useful features available. It also allows you to publish major and minor versions, with comments on each version available, as well as the date and time of the edits, and which user made the edits.  You can also browse the version history and even restore a previous version.  This actually saved my bacon many times when files would get corrupted on a client’s computer.  We simply pulled the last version from the library or their OneDrive and were back in action in seconds!

Which came first, the chicken or the Egg?
When you add a document to a SharePoint library, initially they’re stored in as a standard file.  If you open and edit the file, you’ll write over the original file with the changes. This setup can make keeping track of changes tricky. 

If you go into the libraries settings, you can turn on Versioning.  This will allow you to go into the Document Versions section of the context menu and see what was added, changed, all major and minor versions, as well as revert the document back to a previous version.

It is important to remember that when you enable versioning, each time a document is edited, it will create another copy.  Each version stored is another copy of the document and will count against the site quota (amount of space allowed for the site to use).  So it is best to set the amount of versions kept to be 3-5.  This feature is enabled by default on OneDrive, and is accessible in the context menu on a document one your OneDrive app launcher. 

SharePoint Document Libraries

SharePoint Document Libraries

In SharePoint, a library is a list where each item in the list refers to a file stored in SharePoint. Remember I mentioned that most of the built-in apps in SharePoint are based on the concept of lists?  A library is a list that holds documents as well as columns of information.

Check-in, Check-out—No late fees!
One of SharePoint’s biggest features is file-sharing and collaboration.  Users can work a single document in a library at the same time and SharePoint will keep the file updated as the users input information.  But there could be some situations where a user may need the file to be “off-limits” to others until they have finished working with the document.  SharePoint allows documents in libraries to be checked out to users, and keeps those files locked for editing until they’re checked back in.

Forms, Images, and Documents—Oh my!
Document libraries are the most-commonly used App, but there are other libraries to be mentioned.  Here’s a listing of some other types of libraries:

  • InfoPath Form Library
    Users can build a form with Microsoft InfoPath and then publish the form to a form library.  Other users can fill out the form and a copy will be saved into the form library.
  • Picture Library
    This is similar to a photo album, you can add columns to store more information on the images.
  • Media Library
    These libraries let you save audio and video files in SharePoint.
  • Site Pages
    A library specifically for storing pages from the website.  Created with every site/sub site
  • Site Assets
    This library is created along with the site pages library, and stores images and media that are referenced in the page.

Libraries are simply another kind of list within SharePoint.  I’ll give some examples and explain further in the video for this lesson.

SharePoint Lists

SharePoint Lists

When was the last time you went to the grocery store?  For me it’s a weekly thing.  Anytime I go, I’ve got a shopping list.  It’ll usually look something like this:

Item Name Description Price Coupon
Bread Whole Wheat 3.99 No
Milk 2% Half-Gallon 2.49 No
Eggs Cage-free Organic 4.85 Yes
Dog Food Purina Healthy Weight 12.69 No

Using the grocery list as an example, we can see that there are four columns to this list (Name, Description, Price, and A coupon field).  Each column in the grocery list above captures a specific type of information, whether it’s a small amount of text, a number, or a Yes/No.  The list item details are captured in the columns.  We wouldn’t put a person’s phone number and address into a shopping list– we would put it into a directory, or contact list.

SharePoint lists work exactly the same way. A SharePoint list is a collection of pieces of information– all of which have the same properties.    In the same way that sites are created for the express purpose of achieving a specific goal, lists are a way of capturing related information in a specific-fashion.  SharePoint lists have “Column Types” that specify what information you’re capturing in a list.

Column Types

  • Single line of text
  • Multiple lines of text
  • Choice (menu to choose from)
  • Number (1, 1.0, 100)
  • Currency ($, ¥, €)
  • Date and Time
  • Lookup (information already on the site)
  • Yes/No (check box)
  • Person or Group
  • Hyperlink or Picture
  • Calculated (calculation based on other columns)
  • Task Outcome
  • External Data
  • Managed Metadata

This may seem like a lot of information and you may not recognize some of the terms in the column types list, but, chances are if you don’t know what it is, you probably wont have to use it.  I’ll go into more detail on column types in the video.

Good News…
Here’s some uplifting news, any built-in “App” in SharePoint will be a slight variation on the concept of a list.  So if you understand the concept of a list, you’ll comprehend about 60-80% of what SharePoint does.

Did Someone Say Excel?
Also, lists can also be exported and opened in Microsoft Excel—with a button right on the screen!  Later on, I’ll show you how we can use lists and all of the features within them to make some powerful tools to help you work more efficiently!