(Part 2 of how to use SharePoint posts)

In part one of this how to use SharePoint blog series, we looked at why you want to use a SharePoint list instead of an Excel document. Now let’s take a look at how to best utilize these lists to maximize productivity and minimize frustration.


Filtering a list allows you to quickly see a subset of the data. Applying a filter in SharePoint is easy, just click the down arrow next to the column you want to filter.

apply a SharePoint filter

SharePoint will list all the possible values to filter on. Just place a check next to the ones you want to see. In the example below, I am saying “I only want to see records where the Label value is Analog Spark or Analogue Productions.”

select values to apply to SharePoint filter
This is the filtered list.

filtered SharePoint list
Notice the filter icon next to the column. This is a visual cue that a filter is applied to the column. It’s sometimes easy to forget, and then to panic when you can’t find a record you know exists.

It’s now possible to apply a filter to another column. This will create an AND filter. In plain English: “I want to see all records where the Label column value is Analogue Productions OR Analog Spark AND Artist Last Name is Fitzgerald.”

After applying the filter to the Artist Last Name field, the dataset decreases even more.

SharePoint list filtered by last name
Filtering provides an easy way to quickly locate records in a list that are similar.


Have you ever had to share an Excel workbook with team members? You all needed access to the same information, but you all had very different reasons for needing the data. What’s the best way to present the data then? If there’s multiple needs, whose takes precedence (not accounting for title)? SharePoint solves this dilemma with views. If you find yourself applying an identical filter to a SharePoint list on a somewhat regular occurrence, you can just create a view. This essentially saves the filter. And even better, it doesn’t affect the list itself.

A view only changes the way the data in a SharePoint list is displayed, it doesn’t change the data of the list. This means that nothing catastrophic can result from creating a View. Don’t be afraid to
experiment… especially if you stick exclusively to creating Personal views.

Let’s look at the following features of views:

  1. View columns
  2. Sorting
  3. Filtering
  4. Grouping

Understanding these four aspects of views will go a long way to making it easy for you to find data in a

To create a new view, use the ribbon and click List > Create View.

create view with ribbon

Choose Standard View. This presents the data in the most familiar way: columns horizontally on the top row with each record on an individual row.

Provide a View Name that makes sense. Calling it “My View” may sound like a reasonable idea now, but it won’t be after you create “My View6.”

You may have the option to create a public view. If you check this option than the view you create will be accessible to those who can view the SharePoint list. You’ve been warned. A view named Mr. Lazy’s Reports may not go over so well. I advise keeping the view Private until you are certain the view displays the desired data. If you don’t have the option to create a public view, then you can only create a Private View, which means only you can see it.

In the Columns section you choose the columns and values you want displayed, as well as the order (from left to right). Select only the columns that contain the data necessary to complete your task. This will keep the view clean and help you focus only on pertinent data.

Here are the columns I’ve selected for this view:

select columns for view
You can choose two columns to sort by.

choose two columns to sort by
The Filter section is where you tell SharePoint what records you want to see in the view. Use the first drop down to choose the column, the second drop down to choose the operand (equals to, contains, is not equal to, etc…), and then type the value of the filter in the text box.

filter which records to see
I recommend using CONTAINS whenever possible when filtering on a text box. This makes it easy to capture items that are intended to be the same but weren’t typed in exactly. An example is “Music Matters” and “Music Matters Ltd.”

You can use relative values that add quite a bit of flexibility.

For example, if you only want to see records created on the current date, then you can create a filter like this:

records created by date

[Today] is always the current day. Therefore, regardless of the day you view the list, you will only see records created on that day. If you want to see all records created the past seven days, use some elementary math.

filter records by last seven days
Or, what if you just don’t care about what other people are doing, and you only want to see records you created. You can use [me] like this:

filter records created by me

You can also create ranges. If I only want to see albums on my list that were released in the 1970s, create an AND filter.

filter by range of dates
As you can see, Filters in Views provide a flexible way of displaying data. By using relative values such as [me] and [today] you can create Views that are as up-to-date as you need them to be.

Lastly, you can group records together in a View. In my example, I choose to group by Album Title.

group records in view
Click OK to save the view. Here’s what mine looks like.

grouped by album title
SharePoint provides a count for the number of records in each group. If I expand the first group, you’ll see how it was sorted according to Release Year.

sorted by release year

You can switch views by using the Ribbon Bar:

switch view in ribbon bar
Creating personal views based on your job function eliminates the frustrations of having to apply repeated filters. You can choose the specific columns to display to pinpoint exactly the data you need.

In the next entry of the How to Use SharePoint series, we’ll illustrate how you can change multiple records on a list with minimal effort.

Let’s discuss your unique needs!

You can print it out for a handy reference!