HowTo: SharePoint User Guide 101

Microsoft SharePoint is a comprehensive information and collaboration platform for the enterprise. Think of it like a web platform for creating public websites, as well as secure internal sites to store, organize, share, and access information from almost any device.

SharePoint can be leveraged as a document management system for storing, searching and reviewing documents/content for users within the organization, as well as external stakeholders like partners, vendors, and customers. SharePoint can also be leveraged for workflow automation and review/approvals to replace paper-based process review and approvals. Along with the functionalities of each portal, the design and UX can be heavily customized. 

This series of #HowTo blogs will develop your understanding of "What is SharePoint?" Let's start with a basic 101 guide to get started.



SharePoint Terminology

Much of the terminology will sound and feel familiar to Microsoft Office users. Here are some basic terms that every SharePoint user should know:

Site Collection Is the Top level site that contains subsites
Public Site The public-facing Website is a site that serves as your organization's web presence.
Team Site Internal Site, your organization, team, or group can connect with one another and share files, post announcements, maintain tasks, track issues or action items, store information
Subsite All the departmental sites within the SharePoint Top Level site
Library Document/File repository
Folder Folders can be used to group document and files.
Site owner Has full control to the site
Permissions These are set by the Site Owner and will determine what libraries, folders or documents a SharePoint user can share, edit or view
Collaboration Users, teams and organizations to discover, share, and collaborate on content from anywhere and on any device.
Document Sharing To share a file or document with a SharePoint user or users
SharePoint End User Everyone who has permissions to use the content on a site
Ribbon A menu bar which appears at the top of a SharePoint page
Lists A list of contacts or tasks within SharePoint.


How to get started

Start with Office 365! All Office 365 users have access to their Office 365 Web Portal (shown below), this makes working with all your Microsoft applications super simple. All Office 365 apps are located in one webpage that you can access from any computer, making it easy to access your everything you need from home, at the office, or working remotely. Here you can co-author using online versions of Office 2016, share documents using One Drive and SharePoint, and even engage in enterprise social using your company's Yammer page.

Here are some basic how-to's when first getting started with SharePoint Online:


1.  To access SharePoint Online, go to your Office 365 Web Portal >

 Office 365.jpg


2.  Click on the SharePoint Tile to view your Sites

This will display the SharePoint Dashboard - Site Collections, Subsites, Lists, Libraries and Web parts you follow within your organization. Once your organization gets running with enough Sites it can be a task in-and-of-itself to keep track. Office 365 keeps your sites all in one place and bookmarks your favorites.

 Office 365 Groups.png



3.  Share, post, and collaborate with your teams in Sites created for each group in your organization. Below is an example of a company department site that can be used by teams to work better.

 Office 365 Group.png 


Managing your Sites

Give your teams a collective place to collaborate by setting up SharePoint Sites and Subsites for every group, department, or long term project. Teams can share documents, articles, company-wide announcements, and even post tasks and deadlines. Sites and Subsites primarily refer to the same type of page. Depending on the amount of complexity needed, a hierarchy of different Sites and Subsites are used. 

Each Site/Subsite gets a dedicated OneNote notebook and OneDrive for Business folder, making everything cloud accessible. Create dedicated Sites for each client project to make sure each engagement is organized to the T. Marketing and Sales can organize their documents in one Subsite, while Accounting can track budgets and invoices in a separate Subsite, and HR can publish announcements and feature new hires in another.


Creating a Site

More complex Site Collections require initial set up by your company's Office365 SharePoint Admin.


Creating a Subsite

Sites/Subsites are what give SharePoint the recognition as the best collaboration platforms available! Each team in your organization a dedicated portal in a few clicks of a mouse. Users will require full control to add subsites and to customize the look and feel of the dashboard.

  1. Click Settings in the top right gear button
  2. Click Site Contents
  3. Click +New dropdown, and select Subsite  

 Screenshot 4 Squared.png


  1. Enter title, description, URL, and set preferences
  2. Click Create to create Subsite


Viewing Site Contents

There is a lot underneath the surface of each site. View the entire contents of a site in one central location. All lists, libraries, web parts, apps and subsites can be found in a homepage-like dashboard.

  1. Click Settings in the top right gear button
  2. Click Site Contents
  3. Click on an app tile or the app name to open it and view its contents
  4. Click the Ellipsis (...)to the right of an app to access the app's settings

 Site Contents SharePoint 2016.png


Customize your Dashboard

Aside from custom workflows in your SharePoint portals (which will be covered in a later deep dive how-to), customizing the main view of your site with your team's favorite threads, reports, and document libraries is SharePoint's strongest feature. This lets users customize the information they want to prioritize and collaborate on most frequently.

  1. Start by adding your teams lists, documents, and spreadsheets to the Site Contents
  2. Click on the Edit button in the top right corner

EDIT SharePoint.png

     3. Click Insert from the Ribbon along the top of the screen

     4. Insert Tables, Pictures, Videos, any App in the Site Contents, and any Web Parts



Managing Libraries and Lists

Let's take it a step further! Libraries and Lists are the most used features in SharePoint and are the backbone of sharing documents and meeting deadlines. You can create a Document Library, Picture Library, Wiki page Library, or a Form Library depending on the type of files you want to share in a collection.

Creating a List, App and Document Library

A Document Library is a collection of files that you can store, organize, sync and share.

  1. Go to the Site/Subsite and click on the Settings gear icon
  2. Click on Add an app
  3. Select Document Library or desired app
  4. Select a name for the Document Library (e.g. proposals, templates, articles)
  5. Click on Create
  6. The new Document Library will display in the Site Contents

Adding new items to a List, App or Document Library

  1. Go to your Document Library
  2. Click + New
  3. Select Document. You can then Select the type of document you want to create: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote.
  4. Update and review the document. To save, click on the Document Library name above the Ribbon

Word Online.png


Document Management

You can use co-authoring, versioning, and check out to work on documents together. With you documents in one place, everybody can get the latest versions whenever they need them. You can also sync your documents to your local computer for offline access. Look out for our Deep-dive on Document Management to find an extended list of SharePoint capabilities.

Uploading a document

  1. Go to your Document Library
  2. Click Upload
  3. Browse an existing file. Select file and click OK
  4. You can also Drag and Drop files from your computer to a Document Library

Opening and Editing a List

  1. Select your document
  2. Click on the Ellipsis (...) menu and then the Ellipsis (...) in the pop-up window  
  3. Select either Open in Word or Open in Work Online
  4. Edit your document. To save changes, click on the Document Library name in the top left 

Sharing a document

  1. Select the document you want to share
  2. Click the Ellipses (…) to open the menu
  3. Click Share


Simultaneous Co-authoring

Co-authoring has become a modern collaboration must have. Each team member can work on a different section of the document from their own devices without the hassle of sending around different versions.

  1. First Save the document in a document library and OneDrive for Business
  2. Then Share the document with people in your team
  3. The number of people currently editing is listed at the bottom of the document 


Document Versions

When versioning is enabled in your list or library, you can store, track, and restore items in a list and files in a library whenever they change.

  1. Select the document
  2. Click Version History on the Files tab



SharePoint's search lets users search for files and documents across the SharePoint Server.

  1. Type a search keyword
  2. Click the down arrow to select a search scope
  3. Click the Search icon


Start Team Newsfeed Discussions

Start a conversation with your colleagues by posting to the public newsfeed. Anyone able to see your post may reply to it.

  1. Click Newsfeed and type your message
  2. Click Post
  3. Add other features to your post, such as tags, links, videos, documents, mentions, and picture


Going Mobile

SharePoint is now mobile; your teams can access their favorite SharePoint Sites via their mobile phone. It is great for checking in on project status and accessing documents on the fly.


 SharePoint 2016 Mobile.pngSharePoint 2016 Mobile View.png


If you’re familiar with SharePoint and want to know what’s changed in the latest release contact us now for a FREE consultation.

Look out for future posts covering Microsoft SharePoint– how-to's, best practices, and newest features:

SharePoint 2016 Features
Differences between Online, On-Prem, and Hybrid SharePoint Deployments Deep Dive: SharePoint Document Management Deep Dive: SharePoint Workflows Deep Dive: Themes, Customizations and Top SharePoint Web Parts 


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