List Columns or Site Columns in SharePoint?

We have two (2) types of columns in SharePoint:

  • List Columns
  • Site Columns

One is created at the List/Library level (list columns), and the other one at the Site level (site columns).
From a functionality perspective, they do the exact same thing. From a “re-usability” perspective… not so much…

The only difference between the two, Site Columns are “shared” between sites, but only hierarchically. See that as crescendo 🙂

  • List columns are created at the list/library level and won’t be available outside that list/library. So you’ll have to manage them separately.
  • Site columns are re-usable from the parent site crescendo to all the subsites.


Below is a basic representation of Site Columns (color coded) so you get the idea on the availability of each Site Column.


Site Columns availability


Now let’s create List Columns & Site Columns in SharePoint.
Despite minor differences in the interface, this is applicable to SharePoint Server 2013/2016, and also SharePoint Online (in Office 365).


Create List Columns

To create a list column, we need to have a list or library already created.

Navigate to your list or library, and choose one of the following 2 ways:

  • Click on the “Library” tab in the ribbon >> Create a column
  • Click on the “Library” tab in the ribbon >> Library Settings >> Create a column

Create list column – method 1



Create list column – method 2


And if you chose to add the column(s) to the default view, they will show up as follow:


List Columns


If you wish to hide the column, simply modify the View.
If you wish to delete the column, go to List/Library Settings > Click on the column you wish to delete > Click Delete



Create Site Columns & assign to List/Library

Now remember, Site Columns are re-usable, but only hierarchically.

If I create a site column at the top-level site, this column will be available to re-use on all subsites.
If I create a site column in a subsite directly, this column will only be available to the subsite’s child.

To create a Site Column, navigate first at the level you wish the column to be available (i.e.: top-level site, or subsite1, or subsite2…)

  • From at the correct level >> gear icon >> Site Settings
  • Click on “Site Columns” under Web Designer Gallery
  • Click “Create” and fill the information


Once the column has been created, let’s assign it to a list/library:

  • Navigate to the list/library
  • Under the List/Library tab >> click on List/Library Settings
  • Under Columns >> click on “Add from existing site columns



Add from existing site columns


  • Sort by Groups if you wish
  • Select the site column(s) >> click on “Add
  • Add to Default View if you wish
  • Click on “OK

Add a site column


The columns will show up as follow if added to the default view:


Site Columns in a library


Those 2 site columns were created at the top-level site, therefore they are available to all subsites! 🙂



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