Team Sites, Project Sites, Community Sites & Blog Sites

SharePoint Online offers a number of different options when you create a new site. I used 3 different ones when I set up my various SharePoint-related sites as they each have a different purpose.

The different types of sites listed below fall under the “collaboration” type sites. There are other types of sites you can create with SharePoint that I may cover these in a future post as I learn more about them. For now though, these are the most common ones you will see when you create subsites.

Note: italicized content below came from our source at TechNet.

Team Site

This is the one most people default to. At work, the Team Site is the default template chosen for departmental and committee sites. Quite simply, a team site is a place to work together with a group of people.

Project Site

A site for managing and collaborating on a project. This site template brings all status, communication, and artifacts relevant to the project into one place.

Do we have any examples?

I use a project site for my SharePoint Admin site.

What’s different about it?

For one, it seems to focus on tasks and projects, and the home page includes a gantt chart and an overview of upcoming tasks. Other than that, not too different from a team site. A good use for this type of site is for one-off committee work.

Community Site

A place where community members discuss topics of common interest. Members can browse and discover relevant content by exploring categories, sorting discussions, by popularity or by viewing only posts that have a best reply. Members gain reputation points by participating in the community, such as starting discussions and replying to them, liking posts, and specifying best replies.

Do we have any examples?

Within DSA we use the community site in two places so far… the DSA Home site, and the SharePoint Online & Office 365 Learning Resources site.

What’s different about it?

What’s different about it is that its main function is as a discussion board. It comes with pre-configured templates for

  • all categories (with thumbnails),
  • a specific category with the posts for that category
  • a members page showing all members
  • a topic page that’s pre-configured to a certain layout

While its primary function is discussions, other features can be added, just like with team sites or project sites.

Blog Site

A site for a person or team to post ideas, observations, and expertise that site visitors can comment on.

Do we have any examples?

The It’s All Greek blog I have at work is an example of a blog site.

What’s different about it?

It doesn’t have a lot of built-in features except for all the features required to have a blog: the ability to create and manage posts, categories. Any other features would need to be manually added.

Unlike the community site, it does not have the out of the box capability to attach images to categories – it just lists the categories on the left. It has the spot for a photo (where the monkey is on this blog site). You can invite more than one person to blog, and you will see going forward that I will invite other people to post a blog post about something they find useful.

Source: TechNet


Making Templates for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

Today I made templates in MS Word, MS Excel, and MS PowerPoint. Why? Because of a feature/glitch in SharePoint Online. Site owners – read on.

Creating templates

Using templates in your daily operations is actually good practice. It saves you from needing to open a file, do a save as, and then delete the content before starting over. Working from a template ensures that all documents look the same.

Templates tend do have a t as part of their file extension: Word.dotx, Excel.xltx, PowerPoint.potx

For my Word document, I added the filename, page numbers, and a last modified date to the footer of the document.

For my Excel document, I added the filename, page numbers, and the current date to the footer of the document.

For PowerPoint, I asked one of our CIT designers to provide me with a template and just uploaded it.

All of the templates include corporate colors and fonts.

Once I saved out my templates, I uploaded them to SharePoint for everyone to use. (Note, apparently you cannot save template files directly to SharePoint Online – at least it wouldn’t work for me.)


  • Unfortunately, OneNote is no longer a file, but rather a collection of files, so if you want a OneNote Notebook on your site, you will need to create a blank notebook yourself in the Desktop version of OneNote, and then save it to your sites, using the URL or webaddress of your site to tell OneNote where to save it.


Advanced / site owners:

In document libraries, out of the box, there is no way to just add a link to a document that lives in a differerent library or even a different site. You can add that capability by adding a “Link to a Document” content type to your document list. Cool right?

However, when you do this, it breaks the well-loved feature of the “New” icon, and it now only shows Document, which is a Word Document. Because we like to work in different types of documents, we need to have the other types available to us also. So, I created the templates complete with our corporate color scheme, and in the case of Word and Excel templates, page numbers and file names in the footer to help make it easier for us to work with printed documents.

Integrating Outlook and OneNote for task & project management

I started employing David Allen’s Getting Things Done methods many years ago, and I have had much success with it – when I stick to it.

My challenge has always been keeping things easily accessible. I find I have a task list, and then I have a project notebook. Well, how do they talk to each other?

I had been using EverNote to capture everything I wanted to keep, from recipes to Christmas lists and beyond.

I had OneNote before, but I never quite knew what to do with it. I am not sure why, but it didn’t seem to fit into my plans. I kept it more as a reference system – for things I might need to hold onto for a long time, but not as a working file. In the end, I just think I never really learned much about it, and therefore missed out on some cool features.

I got reintroduced to OneNote when I went through a SharePoint/Office365 course at the University. Then I took a full day class just on OneNote, and I learned how I could integrate Outlook. I filed that knowledge away because I wasn’t using the Office Suite for my work – I was on a Mac and using Gmail.

Now that I am back “home” in my Office Suite (can we get a heavenly chorus sound?) I can fully leverage everything Office has to offer, and organize everything according to project and task.

One peeve of mine is that the Outlook App doesn’t have a task list. I was looking at how I could get my task list onto my phone, and then I saw OneNote. I am just starting to learn how to do this again, so bear with me, but here is a starter video of how to go about “Getting Things Done” in Outlook and OneNote.

At first I thought, “Wow, that’s a lot of steps to go through to add a task, wouldn’t it be much faster to just create tasks in outlook from that email and categorize them?” But then I thought about what they were doing in a greater context, and it’s really quite ingenious. They have their projects in OneNote, and then have their actual todos in Outlook. But the beauty about putting them in OneNote first, meant that now they have all their tasks included in their project notes. GTD on the fly! So they don’t have to cross reference – they have everything together for their project in OneNote, including all the tasks they assigned themselves, and then they also have the actual todos in their task management system within Outlook. Brilliant!

I have just begun making contact with all of my departments and committees, and I can see using sections for my clients, having all the pages together, and then connecting my task list for that. Now I just need to figure out how to then get those tasks into my SP list rather than my computer task list, but that might just be a matter of clicking and dragging. We’ll see. Definitely going to do something with this though! Definitely!

Videos: changing Visio and Color Palettes

I created two instructional videos today for our internal audiences. I used SnagIT version 12. The first video was on swapping out Visio files within a Visio Web Part.

The second video covers changing a site’s color palette. We reference a specific color palette we called DSA Hokie, but any color palette can be substituted.

GTD using Outlook and SharePoint

For those who don’t know, GTD is following David Allen’s model for “Getting Things Done.” I have been using his systems for years with varying degrees of success. When I capture everything the GTD way, it makes it easier to figure out where you should spend your time.

Being on Gmail for so long at work I had gotten away from the habit of GTD. I know there are a number of online services and apps out there to manage tasks, but none of them quite got me so far as using Outlook to manage my tasks, because I could move things from emails to tasks, to calendar, etc. One complete system.

When I was due to come back to PC, I must say I sighed a quiet sigh of relief, and I looked forward to getting it. Since I used to use SharePoint for task management at my previous work, I decided to incorporate my task list on my Admin site with my Outlook.

Only thing was, I wanted to have my GTD categories in both systems. How to do that when SharePoint’s custom fields don’t cross over? Modify a field that does.

The two fields that appeared to come over were “Custom Priority” and “Custom Status”. Because SP’s status field is tied into other functions, I couldn’t use it, but Priority was wide open, so I replaced the choices within the Priority list with my GTD categories of Project, Task, Next Actions, etc. It syncs beautifully, and on both systems I can set up a view that groups them by GTD categories. Score!

Using rules to clean my inbox

I love Outlook and its ability to keep me on track. I implement GTD, based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done, and I also incorporate the McGhee Solutions for Productivity which basically takes the GTD methodology but then implements it as fully as possible in Outlook. I have been using their methods since 2007, only moving away from it when I didn’t have Microsoft Office at work.

I am so pleased to have it back again. As much as I enjoy Gmail, it’s just not very good at task management, and even implementing Evernote and TickTick as companions, I never quite got my GTD system working the way I like.

One of the things that makes my Outlook work so well as the capability of assigning rules and categories. In the olden days I didn’t use “conversation” sorting – I found it annoying and cumbersome, but it’s come a long way, and with Gmail defaulting to that, I have gotten used to it more. My old way of moving files from certain people to certain folders doesn’t quite work in my new setting here, because we have a lot of cross-functional teams at my university, so now I find it easier to use categories and then move all the read emails into one folder.

I have a bunch of categories – one for each department, one for each of my supervisors (yes – I have a few), and then one for each of the committees I am heavily involved in.

While I would love to turn on the rules as the emails come into the inbox, I don’t like having unread emails in subfolders. If I can’t see them, I don’t do anything with them. So I will have to disable my rules until I can run my macro from It took me forever to find this macro. I knew it had to exist, because I had used something similar before, but it took me quite a while to locate it.

Now to test it on the inbox. I hope to have a moment soon to do that.

Cleaning up my inbox!

I had been meaning to implement my RunRulesNow macro for several weeks now and just hadn’t gotten around to it. Today I said, enough is enough! Let’s get this thing implemented.

Thanks to the great folks at there wasn’t a lot that I had to do, except modify each of my rules to have the exception of “when flagged for Any action”.

So to give a bit of context: I like a clean inbox, and I don’t particularly enjoy filing, so what I had done in the past, is have a bunch of rules, and then I had this cool macro, and it would file all my read emails into various folders. It worked superbly well, and unfortunately I had not saved the macro anywhere so I had to look for it again. I found it at

Because I want my rules to run against read emails only, and leave unread emails in my inbox, I had to disable most of my rules. Some rules I kept on, such as those for newsletters and whatnot, because I don’t need them cluttering up my inbox from the get go.

This macro allows me to run the rules against the inbox (or other folders if I so choose), keeps all my flagged items in the inbox (that’s set in the individual rules), and leaves all my unread emails in the inbox as well. It allows me to keep all my open loops in the inbox and remove the clutter from prior emails without having to manually check each box. If you want to know more about this, just add a comment in the reply section and I’ll try to help. Thanks again to the folks on for doing all the hard work for me. I appreciate it!