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O365: Create a SharePoint-On-Line Library

O365 is a tremendous resource. It can serve a business better when SharePoint on-line libraries are used as a repository for files and documents on which collaboration is required.

 Instead of circulating documents for input by different users, simply save them to a SharePoint library where selected personnel can access them for update.

Creating a library is a simple process which needs no technical expertise greater than the ability to use a computer. For this exercise we will create and start to populate a library for storing invoice documents.

Select the Site

An O365 domain can contain many sites. Libraries and Lists within a site can be made to interact with one another so data can be readily shared across the site and recycled. For example, if we choose to create a Customer List within a site and we populate the list with customer names and addresses we can allow other libraries and lists within the site to access and use the name and address data.

So, the first job is to select which site we will use, or create a new site (this option will be covered in another article).

Create the Library.

1. Open O365 in a browser. I prefer to use IE for this as Edge will not allow reliable copy and paste.
2. Click on the app launcher icon  select ‘Sites’.
3. Click on the tile for the Site where you wish to create the libraries. For the screen shots here I’ve used my own ffox Test site.
4.  I use ffox Test to test new ideas and processes.
5. From the left hand ‘Quick Access’ menu select ‘Site Contents’
6. Click the ‘add an app’ icon and select ‘Document Library’ from the top of the list.
7. A dialogue will ask for a name for the new library, enter ‘Invoices’ and click create.
8. The new ‘Invoices’ library appears in the list and it will also be shown in the ‘Quick Access Menu’ on the left of the screen

That’s all it takes to create a library. However, in order to make the library fully functional there is some configuration to be done.

 Configure the new library

When a new library is created in O365 SharePoint on-line automatically creates a number of default metadata fields. These can be viewed in the following way –

1. From the site home page

  Select ‘Invoices’ from the Quick Access Menu.
2. The default view will display.

There is no content as yet and this view will show just four fields. These are ‘Type Icon’, ‘Name’, ‘Date Modified’ and ‘Modified By’. These are metadata fields. By default SharePoint on-line creates twenty-one metadata fields for any new library and these will be populated automatically for any item checked into the library.
3. To view a list of all metadata fields click the ‘Library’ tab in the top left of the screen.

This will display the library ribbon. Select ‘Modify View’.
4. From this list on the settings page you will see all of the default columns (fields). Those with the ‘Display’ checkbox ticked will show on the default view seen in step 2 above. If the checkbox is unticked the data is hidden.

Utilising this you can choose what meta data you wish to display in the library default view. You can also create new views for specific purposes, this will be covered in a separate article.
However, not many of the columns (fields) in the default list are particularly relevant to the business function of Invoicing, so we will need to create new columns and name them specifically. We can also choose if we want to require the users to enter data, or allow them to leave the field empty.
5. To create new fields return to the Invoices default view by clicking ‘Invoices’ in the ‘Quick Access’ menu on the left. Then click the ‘Library’ tab in the top left of the screen and from the library ribbon select ‘Library Settings’ towards the right hand end of the ribbon.

This will display the settings page for the Invoices library. Around half way down the page the current fields (columns) are listed and below that are some action links, the first of which is ‘Create column’. Before we create any new columns we need to consider what data we want to store. For this exercise we will create columns to store
The Value of the Invoice.
The Status of the Invoice.
The Order Number against which the Invoice has been raised.
The Customer.
These few fields will give enough information to allow us to sort the contents of the library to display quite a range of information which will be useful to users in the future.
Start by clicking on ‘Create Column’

Then fill in the entries shown above and click ‘OK’ in the far bottom right of the screen.

Repeat the process

for the ‘Status’ field, this time using the ‘Choice menu’ option. Don’t forget to save it by clicking ‘OK’.

 Repeat again another twice for the ‘Order Number’ and ‘Customer’ fields, selecting ‘Single line of text’ in each case.
6. Return to the default view for Invoices by clicking on the ‘Invoices’ name in the left hand quick access menu and you will see

The new fields (columns) for Value, Status, Order Number and Customer are now included and you are ready to start importing invoice documents to the library.

Importing Documents

A SharePoint on-line library can store documents in a wide variety of file formats. For this exercise we will store PDF prints. The invoice PDFs can either be scanned documents or documents printed to PDF from your own in-house business applications. Most accounts packages will allow a print to PDF function, as will MS Word and Excel, alternatively you can install a PDF print driver and use that to create the files.

1. Return to the default view for Invoices by clicking on the ‘Invoices’ name in the left hand quick access menu and select ‘Upload’
2. Browse to the invoice PDF file, select it and click ‘OK’
3. Complete the metadata fields as shown below and click ‘Check in’
4. The newly imported invoice will appear in the Invoices library.
5. The ‘Modified’ column will initially show ‘A few seconds ago’, this will change to display the specific time of modification and in later days will show the date of the modification (date and time will display if you hover over the date). The metadata entries can be edited by clicking on the ellipses (…) icon. However, SharePoint on-line will always track the date/time and the user of the last modification.
6. Once there are a number of items in the library the display can be sorted and filtered on any column to show selected items only. For instance, if the ‘Status’ column is filtered to show only ‘Submitted’ items the display will deliver a quick return of all outstanding invoices. Similarly the library can be filtered to display only invoice belonging to a particular customer.


1. This assumes that the user has Internet access
2. Also that the user has been granted write access to the SharePoint site and library
3. If the library has ‘check in/check out’ enabled the user will be prompter to check on opening and check in on closing
4. If the library has ‘Approval’ enabled the document will not be visible to other users until ‘Approval’ has been granted.

Learn more.



Chris Watkins I've been an IT professional for over thirty years. Most of that time has been spent helping large organisations with the evaluation, installation and maintenance of business software applications.
I have a wealth of knowhow on the subject of data management.
Advice is free and so are basic templates. If you need more just ask. I only charge for actual work done.
Contact - Tel: 01392 58 0420 email: