Column Types: Single or multiple lines of text

Text fields are the most commonly used fields in SharePoint. Within our sites, every list or library comes at least with one single text field, often Title, or Name. Within this blog, the title of the blog item is a single line text field and the body is a multiple lines text field. The following information was excerpted from this Microsoft article about column types.

Single line of text

Use this column field type to collect and display small amounts of unformatted text in a single line, including:

  • Text only, such as first names, last names, or department names
  • Combinations of text and numbers, such as street addresses or account numbers
  • Numbers that are not used in calculations, such as employee ID numbers, phone numbers, postal codes, or part numbers

A single line of text column displays 255 characters in a single line. If you want the column to display formatted text or more than one line of text at a time, create a Multiple lines of text column. You can change an existing Single line of text column to a Multiple lines of text column without losing any data that is stored in the column already.

You can customize a Single line of text column in these ways:

  • Assign a character limit Limit the number of characters by specifying the maximum number of characters that you want. For example, if the column stores five-digit employee ID numbers, you can use this feature to help ensure that people enter only five characters.
  • Display a default value Automatically display specific text when someone adds a new item, while also allowing people to enter different text if they need to do so. A default value helps people enter information faster. For example, if the column stores the name of a company assigned to a project and your organization works with a specific company for most projects, you can enter the name of that company as the default value. As a result, the company name appears automatically when a new project is added to the list, and team members do not have to enter the name.

A default value can be either text that you specify or the result of a calculation, which is called a calculated value. Calculated values are helpful when you want to display specific text automatically but the text might vary depending on who added the item, when the item was added, or other reasons. To use a calculated value, you enter a formula, instead of specific text, as the default value. The formula can calculate a value based on information in other columns or system functions such as [today], to indicate the current date, or [me], to display the name of the person who adds or changes the item

Multiple lines of text

Use this column field type to collect and display formatted text or lengthy text and numbers on more than one line, such as a description of or comments about an item. A Multiple lines of text column can store as many as 63,999 characters, and you can specify the number of lines of text that you want to display when people enter information about an item. This type of column displays all of the text when the column is viewed in a list or library. You can customize a Multiple lines of text column in these ways:

  • Assign a display limit Limit the number of lines of that appear when people enter information about an item. For example, if the column stores lengthy notes about a calendar event, you might choose to display ten lines of text. This makes it easier for people to enter information because they can easily see all of the text that they have entered. Conversely, if the column stores only a sentence or two about an event, you might choose to display only two or three lines of text. If you assign a display limit, it does not limit the amount of text that appears when the column appears in a list or library. All of the text entered for an item appears in the column.
  • Enable or disable text formatting Specify whether people can apply formatting such as bold, italics, or colors to text. There are three options: plain text, which does not support any formatting options; rich text, which supports basic formatting such as bold, italics, bulleted or numbered lists, colored text, and background colors; or enhanced rich text, which supports the same formatting options as rich text and additional options for hyperlinks, pictures, and tables.
  • Append changes If versioning has been enabled for the list or library, specify whether people can add new text about an item without replacing any existing text about that item. If you choose to not append changes, new text about an item replaces any existing text about that item in the column. If you choose to append changes, people can enter additional information about an item, while also viewing text that was previously entered and the date and time that the text was entered. When viewed in a list or library, not as a field in an item form, the column displays the hyperlink View Entries, instead of the text, and people can click the hyperlink to see all of the information stored in the column for that item.

IMPORTANT: If you turn off this option after you create the column, all information except the most recent entry is deleted.

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Site column types and options

I thought I would spend this week examining the various column types and the options within. Microsoft has provided a nice guide of each of the column types, and I will provide some examples of where and how we use them. Here is a basic overview from their site:

Columns help you create meaningful views of the items in a list or library. By using columns, you can sort, group, and filter items, and you can also calculate data about items automatically and display the results of those calculations. Columns also enable you to specify what information should be entered about an item when someone adds an item to a list or library. When an item is added, a form appears and provides fields and options for entering information. When you create a list or library, certain columns, such as Title and Modified By, are created automatically. You can create additional columns to suit your needs. The columns that you create determine which fields and options appear in that form, and the columns that can be added to views of the list or library.

You specify the type of column that you want when you create a column. In some cases, you can also choose a different column type for an existing column, but this depends on what kind and how much data is currently stored in the column. Changing the column type of an existing column can corrupt the data already stored in the column. For these reasons, it’s important to decide what kind of data you want to store before you create a column.

Extracting the URL from Document Library’s Link type

Background:

Apparently in SP Online Document Library app, the Title field is not linked to the document. Last year, using Laura Rogers’ workaround, I created a workflow to extract the AbsoluteURL from the file name and attach it to the title of the file, which then got pasted into a new field called DocumentTitle.

Fast forward to Summer 2016:

Microsoft added the ability to add links to other documents into a document library. It generates a filename with a .url extension to hold the data. So now, the AbsoluteURL I was using in the workflow, is the actual file name of the URL listing (i.e. Employee Handbook.url) and not the URL of the file that is linked.
As an aside, Microsoft has not (yet) given us the ability to actually edit the link once we create the URL. Why, I don’t know, but it’s a one-time shot. If you need to change it, you need to delete the current one, and then add a new one, along with all the wonderful metatags.
The actual URL to the file or web address to which you want to link is hidden a new ShortcutURL field, and the contents of that field looks like this:
{“__metadata”:{“type”:”SP.FieldUrlValue”},”Description”:”https:\/\/www.hr.vt.edu\/_files\/file_hr_emp_handbook.pdf“,”Url”:”https:\/\/www.hr.vt.edu\/_files\/file_hr_emp_handbook.pdf“}
While I’m somewhat familiar with string manipulation, I didn’t know how to do this in a SharePoint Designer workflow, so I reached out to my awesome mentor, @duffbert, who sent me a screenshot of something similar he had found and then walked me through the logic. He is just awesome.

The solution:

 workflow-to-extract-url-in-document-library

 

Inside a new stage

  • Action: Set Workflow Variable
    • Name the variable: e.g. URLlink
    • Value: From the Current Item menu choose Shortcut URL
  • Action: Find substring in string (Output to Variable: index)
    • Substring = “Url”:”
    • String = “Variable: URLlink”
  • Action: do calculation
    • Calculate “Variable: Index” plus “7” (Output to variable:calc)
  • Action: Extract Substring from index of String
    (this line becomes Copy from string, starting at 0 (Output to Variable: substring)

    • String = “Variable: URLlink”
    • Starting at: “Variable calc”
  • Action: Find substring in string (Output to Variable: index1)
    • Substring = “}
    • String = “Variable: substring”
  • Action: Extract Substring of String from Index with Length
    (this line becomes Copy from string, starting at 0 for value characters (Output to Variable: substring1)

    • Value = “Variable: URLlink”, starting at “Variable: calc” for “Variable: index1” characters (Output to Variable: substring1)
  • Action: Replace Substring in String
    • String = \/ (backslash, forward slash)
    • String = /
    • String = “Variable: substring1” (Output to Variable: output)
Now, using the output variable, I can attach the File URL to the DocumentTitle field so when someone clicks on the Title name, it will actually open the file in the browser window, and not ask a user to download a funky Employee Handbook.url file.
The complete workflow now looks like this:
workflow-to-extract-url-in-document-library-complete

Using Templates in OneNote

For some reason, templates in OneNote are not tied to a document; rather they are computer-specific and can only be applied using the desktop version of OneNote. Therefore you will need to add templates to your own computer before you will be able to apply them to the document.

Creating Templates

  • Go to INSERT | Page Templates | Page Templates
  • Design or choose page from which you want to create a template you want to add, and at the bottom right of the Page Template panel, it has a link for “add template” – click on that, and name your template.
  • Then choose the next page, and follow the same instructions.

Whichever template you want to be the default for the section that you’re working with, set as the default.

To use the templates in your document

  • Go to INSERT | Page Templates | Page Templates
  • On the drop down menu, either choose the template you want (if it’s shown), or
  • Click on Page Templates

You will have a list of templates on the right hand side of your screen.

Click on the template you want; it will create a new page with that template.

Handy newsletters for learning Word and Excel

Have you ever been frustrated, knowing that Word or Excel can probably do something, and that you’re missing out?

In this post I want to share a resource that I have been using for many years. A gentleman by the name of Alan Wyatt began creating a tips site for all kinds of things, but especially for Excel and for Word.

He publishes weekly newsletters for Word with Ribbon (Word 2007-present) and Excel with Ribbon (Excel 2007-present) which contain 4 tips for each. He also continues to support the older versions of Word and Excel, which he calls “Word Menu” and “Excel Menu”, because they handled everything via a menu standpoint instead of the ribbon, which is a more graphical way for us to find our tools.

He also publishes “Daily Nuggets” for both Excel and Word, which contain 1 tip per work day. The daily nuggets are different tips than those which appear in the weekly email.

I subscribed to his emails back during the Office 97 days, and I take for granted now all of the things I have learned from him and his readers over the years. I also was pleased to contribute to some of his tips over the years as well.