SharePoint has many out-of-the-box (OOTB) ways to improve the way data is displayed in lists and libraries. Many of these can alleviate headache your users experience when adapting to a new way of working with their abundance of ever-growing information. Let’s check out a few things you can do right now, in less than five minutes:
- Prevent horizontal scrolling by carefully selecting displayed columns
- Sort items appropriately
- Filter to relevant info per view
- Group items into logical “buckets”
- Adjust item limits
Getting to view settings
First of all, to get to view settings, go to “list settings” and then scroll to the bottom where you’ll find your views. Click any of the views you wish to modify to get to the settings page.
Or, to get to a list or library’s view settings directly from a modern view (O365), click the view name and click “Edit current view”.
And in classic views (server and O365), click the ellipses next to your views, then “Modify this View.”
Please note that if your list or library is a web part on a page (not the original list or library app), you’ll need to edit the page, edit the web part and then “edit the current view” from the web part properties pane.
Note: Modifying a web part’s current view does not alter the original list or library’s view(s). It only applies to that specific web part on that specific page.
1. Prevent horizontal scrolling by carefully selecting displayed columns
- Avoid showing every column in list views to prevent horizontal scrolling. Users scroll horizontally in excel all the time, but they don’t want to do that in browsers too.
- Pick only the important columns people need to get an idea or summary of the main points such as “status,” “requester,” “topic/description,” “due date,” etc. The rest they can still access by clicking the item or viewing document properties. You can also show different sets of column data by creating multiple views (by department, by status, by user, etc.).
- While checking columns, consider adding the “Edit” column in position one to provide users easy access to viewing ALL fields in a single click, ready to be modified. Learn more about that here.
2. Sort views
- If your view is “Incomplete projects” (“Status” equals “Incomplete”), you’d probably want to sort that view by “Due Date” ascending (earliest date first on the list).
- However, a list of form submissions may be best sorted by “Modified” descending (last updated at the top).
- Use secondary sorting when your first column might have many of the same values. For example, if it’s a date field like the example above, we would then want to sort by “Title” alphabetically. First by date (latest first), then by title.
- A list of personnel would best be sorted either by department, then name or just by name. Though I think “grouping” by department and sorting by name would be my preference. See below for grouping.
3. Filter views
- Each view you create for a list or library should have different filters – this is the primary function of multiple views. You might have an “All items” view, but others should be either grouped (next section) or filtered to provide a valuable alternative way of viewing the list or library’s data.
- Use [Me] and/or [Today] to limit views to returning only items where a person field equals (or not equals) the viewer, and/or a date field is before/equal to/after the current date. These are useful for views showing “tasks assigned to me,” “items created by me,” “Projects due today,” “Forms submitted today.”
- Read more about using “Today” as a filter and in calculated columns here.
4. Use grouping
- Group items by common attributes such as location, agent, month, etc. This makes it easy for people to pinpoint the approximate location of info they’re seeking in the moment
- Use secondary grouping only if necessary. It’s nice to group and create those “buckets,” but if most of your secondary groups are “N/A” or “General,” then your users are having to click an additional time for no reason. Unless your groupings are “expanded” by default.
- Here’s an example of a task list with both “priority” and “status” fields where secondary grouping could be helpful. At a glance, you can see exactly how many high priority issues or tasks are in progress and (hopefully) any comments explaining those not started.
- You could also create a calculated column that extracts month and year from a date column with which you could group your items. Check out this example.
5. Adjust item limits
- By default, SharePoint will return 30 results for lists and libraries, with the option to “page” over to the next set of 30. If you have 31 items, this can be a pain. Within reason, increase this number to accommodate your list’s data and prevent that extra click for users.
- The higher this number, the slower your navigation experience will be.
- Higher numbers may result in “Quick edit” functions failing on drag and fill or copy and paste functions. I recommend absolutely no more than 100 per page if possible.
- If you’re sorting by recent submissions, maybe users don’t need to “page” to more results. You can click the radio button for “limit the total number of items…” to just show 30.
- For web parts of lists and libraries placed on pages, considering lowering this item limit to 5 or so for things like “announcements, upcoming events/tasks, etc.” to prevent too much vertical space being absorbed.