Microsoft 365 SharePoint

SharePoint Document Sets – A real world example

Document Sets are awesome!

During my assignment at an asset manager in the Netherlands, I really started to appreciate the power of Document Sets in SharePoint. I never really was a big fan (not sure why exactly) and never used them. One of my colleagues from the Intranet Team showed me the benefits and now I think they rock! I recently wrote an article for the DIWUG E-Magazine where I also write about Document Sets. In this post I would like to show you an example of the use of Document Sets within my own team at Macaw. Let’s take a look!

Storing publications and presentations

Our department finds it really important to share SharePoint knowledge by writing internal or external publications. We store the publications in Document Sets. The following screenshot isn’t an actual representation of our use of Document Sets but gives you a good perspective:


The publications are grouped by SharePoint version. Each visitor can immediately search for the SharePoint version they are looking for and also get a glimpse at the author. Let’s create a new publication:




Every author has to attach metadata to the publication. This improves the Search results and every visitor gets all the details of the publication. After entering all the metadata the following screen appears:


This is what I love about Document Sets! The welcome page. You see a description and all the important metadata such as the URL of the publication. I hope you noticed a different view compared to the library, where the document sets are grouped by the SharePoint version. The content of the Document Sets has a different view and different metadata! Awesome! This is why I recommend using Document Sets instead of folders, you have a lot more flexibility and options. It really improves User Adoption of SharePoint and Document Libraries. So how do you recreate this solution? It’s really easy.

Content type and site columns

We start by creating a new Content Type based at the default Document Set Content Type:


We create new site columns or attach default site columns to provide the metadata of our Document Set. Create a new document library and attach the Document Set Content Type:

  • Click on Library in the ribbon
  • Click on Library Settings
  • Click on Advanced Settings
  • Select Yes to allow the management of Content Types
  • Click on Ok.



The Document Set is now available in our library.

Document Set Settings

A Document Set has very useful settings. Let’s take a closer look at these settings:

Allowed Content Types

This settings enables you to set the default Content Types within the Document Set. I don’t recommend using this feature because it doesn’t work properly. Let me show you. I select a Document Content Type called Fact sheet as my only allowed Content Type. This is what happens:


The Fact sheet appears under New Document but after uploading a document the following happens:



In case the document library contains more Document Content Types the default one is selected. I recommend using the Default Content option.

Default Content

The main reason you want to use the Allowed Content Type feature is because you want your end-users to create Document Content Types with a predefined template. There is an easier way to do this. That’s using the Default Content option. You can add templates here, these templates are automatically added to the Document Set after an end-user creates a Document Set. Very handy!

Shared Columns

Again, a very cool feature. By adding Shared Columns all the document inside the Document Set inherit the Document Sets metadata. I really recommend using this feature because it improves the Search results in your SharePoint portal.

Welcome Page Columns

You probably noticed the metadata fields at the welcome page right?






How can I display those metadata fields? By using this feature!

Welcome Page View

Also a very powerful feature to display different metadata inside the Document Sets compared to the view of the Document Sets in the Document Library. We first have to change the default All Documents view to group by the Document Sets based at SharePoint version and only show the Author field:



To set a dedicated view for the Document Set we have to create a new view:



So how do we get this view to be the default view for the Document Set? By selecting it at the Welcome Page View option.ย This is how Document Sets can benefit your business. I really hope you found this post useful and you can start working with Document Sets in your business.

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  • Reply
    Vipul Jain
    September 15, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    When I’m uploading documents in a document Set in SharePoint 2013 Online, using Upload Document button in Ribbon, it opens a pop-up from where I can browse the desired document. After that it opens one more pop-up, where it asks for check-in the document, and not saving the document. Earlier it was showing the Save button, but now it doesn’t saves the item.

    Please help !!1

  • Reply
    Jasper Oosterveld
    October 4, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Do you have a screenshot you can show?

  • Reply
    October 30, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    Hi Jasper.

    Thanks a lot for this great article, I’ve learned a lot from it.
    The only real issue i’m having is the fact that the ‘Quick Edit’ functionality is disabled when you use group-by views.
    This is, for me, a major disadvantage.



  • Reply
    Jasper Oosterveld
    November 11, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Hi Dave,

    That’s nice to hear ๐Ÿ™‚

    Unfortunately SharePoint isn’t perfect ๐Ÿ™

  • Reply
    Ferdinando Simonetti
    December 17, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Hello from Italy.
    Having successfully learned how to customize Document’s “default new item” and “default edit” forms with web parts and Javascript, I was somewhat disappointed (read: I crashed into that) this morning when I tried for the first time to customize the “new document set” page… that wasn’t anywhere near where I expected it, while the “edit document set” is still customizable on the usual “web part & javascript” way.

    Long story cut… I’ve created a custom content type derived from “document set” (in order to group together every document related to a specific lawsuit) that has some additional columns:
    – Customer (a lookup to the Customer list)
    – Counterpart (another lookup to another list)
    – and some “placeholder” columns (Birthday, Address, City, Country and so on) to be filled programmatically with the values of the Customers’ list item that the user has chosen from the lookup.

    I configured the content type this way to be able to “propagate” the placeholder columns’ values as Quick parts of every document inside the set.

    Should I simply stick on “Customer” and “Counterpart” lookups for the document set, adding customization logic only at a document level, or there is a way (easy as webparts & javascript for documents) to achieve my goal at document set level?

    Thanks in advance, and thanks a lot for this article that was very inspiring!

  • Reply
    Jasper Oosterveld
    December 31, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Hi Ferdinando,

    Apologies for the late reply from my side, thanks for leaving a comment.

    I don’t really understand what you are trying to achieve. Would you be able to provide more details and examples?

  • Reply
    January 5, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    I am creating a document set with multiple shared columns. The purpose is to prefill a series of templates that share common data with that information, and have editable individual templates.

    When I edit a template’s shared column either by DIP or quick part and save, upon opening the document within the document set I find the column data has reverted back to the Document set Shared Column value instead of the entered data.

    Have I reached a limit in what sharepoint can do? Thank you for your time, Below is an example.

    Document set contains template one.

    Shared Columns:
    Owner: Mr. Grey
    Operator: Mr. Brown

    Template one generated within the DocSet. Open template one.

    DIP Operator Column defaults to Mr Brown, change information to Mr. White, save.
    open template one again. DIP says Mr Brown, reflecting Shared Column value of DocSet.

  • Reply
    Jasper Oosterveld
    January 5, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    Wow, that’s an interesting issue! I was actually able to reproduce this myself. Unfortunately I have no experience with this issue. I can highly recommend posting your question at the TechNet forum:

    People are really helpful and skilled at the forums. Let me know how it goes though!

  • Reply
    Siddharth Bhatia
    January 9, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    Hi Jasper.
    Thanks a lot for this awesome article, Iโ€™ve learned a lot from it.

    I am working on a project where i have to create different Document sets and place a family of files in each set. Now the quantity of sets is high (approx 350) and i don’t want to create them manually. Also i don’t want to open each set and upload the related files in each set. Is there a way to create the document sets and upload the documents automatically in their respective set?

    Please help!!

    • Reply
      Jasper Oosterveld
      January 9, 2017 at 4:40 pm


      Probably with some custom development. I would ask this at the MS Tech forums ๐Ÿ™‚

      Good luck!

  • Reply
    February 8, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    Hi Jasper, I see after creating a document set in the new document library experience it reverts to the classic view once inside the document set. Does this have any future implications should Microsoft say close down the classic view option for document libraries?

  • Reply
    Jasper Oosterveld
    February 8, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    Hi Kevin, thanks for your reply. Modern Libraries don’t support Document Sets at the moment. This is on the roadmap. I really don’t expect Microsoft turning off the classic view before modern libraries support Document Sets.

  • Reply
    April 6, 2018 at 3:37 am

    We have been using document set in some of our projects, but from time to time, the documents in the document set are not inheriting the metadata properly. What should we check if things happen like this?

  • Reply
    Agen Aduqq
    May 28, 2020 at 5:58 pm

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Many thanks, However I am
    experiencing difficulties with your RSS. I don’t know the reason why I am unable to join it.
    Is there anyone else having identical RSS problems?
    Anyone who knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanx!!

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