Rules to Better SharePoint for End Users

​Since 1990, SSW has supported the developer community by publishing all our best practices and rules for everyone to see. ​

If you still need help, visit SharePoint Server ​Consulting​ and book in a consultant.

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  1. After adding a rule on SharePoint - what steps should you take?

    To prevent spelling or grammatical errors in the text content of a rule, you should complete the following steps:

    1. Check the rule in Office Word for spelling or grammatical errors (Warning: Select the “Paste Plaintext” when pasting from Office Word to SharePoint or you will have a lot of work later to clean up the automatic generated HTML code by Office Word)
    2. Run Link Auditor on that page
    3. Check the report and fix the errors
    4. Check in the page and repeat steps 2-3 until Link Auditor has all green ticks (alternatively, you can use "Check my links" app of Google Chrome to find the broken links)
    We also have a rule: Adding a rule in as px
    Figure: SharePoint as a content management system
  2. Do you avoid using specific characters in friendly URL?

    When adding a friendly URL, please avoid using specific characters like “+, :, #, &, (, ), !, *, [, ], {, }, @, /, =, $” and so on due to multiple reasons:
    1. When adding a friendly URL, we meant to make it “friendly" and “easy" for the user to read and remember, so avoid using specific characters and try to make it short.
    2. Some characters are unsafe characters, they will be encoded, which end up making the URL really messy and ugly, e.g double quote (“) will be encoded to %22.

    Some characters are reserved characters, which may not be supported by some features, based on our experience, “+" is not supported in “canonical" to redirect from http to https.​​


    In the above source code, the URL [note: don't include as a hyperlink as it's a broken URL] will throw a 404 error rather than redirecting to,but it works fine if the URL doesn't include “+", e.g.

  3. Do you know how to name documents?

    When naming documents, use kebab-case to separate words to make your files more easily discoverable.

    A file name without spaces means that the search engine doesn't know where one word ends and the other one begins. This means that searching for 'monthly' or 'report' might not find this document.


    Bad Example: File name doesn't contain any separators between words

    As far as search goes, using spaces is actually a usable option. What makes spaces less-preferable is the fact that the URL to this document will have those spaces escaped with the sequence %20. E.g. https://sharepoint/site/library/Monthly%20​Report.docx. URLs with escaped spaces are longer and less human-readable.

    Monthly Report.docx 

    Bad Example: File name uses a space to separate words

    Underscores are not valid word separators for search in SharePoint, and not recommended by others. Also, sometimes underscores are less visible to users, for example, when a hyperlink is underlined. When reading a hyperlink that is underlined, it is oft​en possible for the user to be mistaken by thinking that the URL contains spaces instead of underscores. For these reasons it is best to avoid their use in file names and titles.


    Bad Example: File name uses an underscore (snake_case) to separate words

    A hyphen is the best choice, because it is understood both by humans and all versions of SharePoint search.


    Good Example: File name uses a kebab-case​ to separate words

    Add relevant metadata where possible

    If a document library is configured with metadata fields, add as much relevant information as you can. Metadata is more highly regarded by search than the contents within documents, so by adding relevant terms to a documents metadata, you will almost certainly have a positive effect on the relevance of search results.​

    Use descriptive file names and titles

    The file name and title is regarded more highly by search than the content within documents. Also, the title or file name is what is displayed in the search results, so by making it descriptive, you are making it easier for people who perform searches to identify the purpose of your document.​

    Related Rule

  4. Do you know how to use SharePoint search?

    ​​​SharePoint search is a powerful tool for discovering information. Here are some tips to make sure you are getting the most from it. There are two things to consider regarding SharePoint search; firstly, how you save information to SharePoint to be more easily discoverable; secondly, how to perform searches within SharePoint.

    ​Here are some tips for performing searches:​​​

    Know how to navigate SharePoint search – watch this video


    • Use the categories (top)
    • Use the filters (right navigation / faceted search)
    • Use the scope to go wider
    • Use the specific properties (see below)
    • People - Use Delve indexed properties (i.e. Skills)

    Search a specific property 

    if you are familiar with the structure of the metadata in the content you're searching, you​ can restrict your searches to a property with the syntax <property>:<search term>. E.g. to search the filename field for the term "report", you would use "filename:report".

    Example of properties you can use (common ones);

    • Filetype:
    • CreatedBy:
    • ModifiedBy:
    • Title:


    Figure: Example of using Filetype: filter
    Use Boolean OR and AND operators

    Similar to Google and Bing, you can use OR and AND Boolean operators. E.g. "sharepoint AND search".

    Note: OR and AND must be capitalized, however, the case is irrelevant for actual search terms.

    Use an asterisk (*) wildcard for partial matches

    This can be useful if you know that certain words are used together, e.g. Fire* will return results for FireBootCamp.

    Note: Because of word stemming which is enabled by default in ​SharePoint 2019, 2016, and 2013, you do not need to use wildcards to find variations on words. For example, searching for "computer" will return results that contain "computers", so you do not need to search for "computer*". 

    Use double quotes to find specific phrases

    E.g. search for "social media" to make sure you get results for social media, as opposed to results that simply contain the words "social" and "media" in the same document.

  5. Do you know how to view changes made to a SharePoint page?

    If you find a mistake or typo you should look and see who is the culprit before fixing it. This way you can inform the person what was done.

    Here is how you see the history of the page:

    Screen Shot 2018-09-28 at 3.34.38 PM-min.png
    Figure: Click on Page | Page History
    Figure: See the changes made, versions and the​ person who changed it

    Here is how you see the history on Office 365 - SharePoint Online:

    Figure: Click on Show actions | Version History

    Figure: Version History listed

    Watch the video which explains how to view the version history for a page in SharePoint 2013 (Same as in SharePoint 2016). This allows you to see changes that were made to the page, as long as versioning is enabled in advance.


    Related rules

    If you want to see how this is done in TFS, read Do you know the benefits of using source control?

  6. Do you know the keyboard shortcuts?

    ​Document libraries in SharePoint 2016 are much better. The keyboard shortcuts are:​

    • Alt + N - New
    • Alt + E - Edit
    • Alt + U - Upload​
    • Alt + M - Manage​
    • Alt + S - Share
    • Alt + Y - Synchronization​​


  7. Do you know why you should use "Open with Explorer" over OneDrive?

    ​​​​​Watch Adam Cogan explaining why you should use "Open with Explorer" over OneDrive (formerly called SkyDrive):

    /***** Update​ on Jul 2018 ******/

    With the latest version of OneDrive, 

    1. It maps the folder in a second and shows the document previews without actually download the files. Files will be downloaded when you double click them or set their parent folder as “always available locally”, then they will show a “green tick” in "status" column to indicate that the files are available locally.
    2. You can select sub folders you want to sync on your computer.
    Considering the above two points, plus "Explorer view" is being decommissioned by Microsoft Mordern pages, we'd recommend you to use OneDrive over "Explorer view" now.