It is common in SharePoint to use different page layouts depending on the type of page, either site or publishing, and the information you are displaying. This article will cover the default page layouts available in SharePoint 2013, the basic differences between them, and how make quick customizations. While there are no absolute rules to when a site or publishing page should be used, generally site pages are used for internal use and publishing pages are used primarily for external purposes.
When a page is newly created using the default option (from navigating to ‘Settings’ gear icon in the upper right hand corner of your site, then clicking ‘Create a page’) it becomes viewable in the ‘Site Contents’ under ‘Site Pages’ (not ‘Pages,’ as these are publishing pages) and uses the ‘Wiki Page’ layout by default. The ‘Wiki Page’ layout gives us a blank layout container to write or place content into.
Though this layout is typically used for displaying static content, it can also be used for dynamic content like web parts (both default and custom). Styling can become a problem if different web parts are added to a ‘Wiki Page’ layout. If there is a situation where you need to add multiple web parts in a page, the ‘Web Part Page’ layout usually works perfectly. To use the ‘Web Part Page’ layout navigate to the ‘Site Pages’ gallery by going to the top ribbon and clicking ‘Pages,’ and then ‘View All Pages.’ In the middle ribbon click ‘New Document,’ and from the drop-down choose ‘Web Part Page.’
Another page will then appear. You will be asked to provide a name, presented an option to choose a layout template, and a choice of which document library to save the page in.
The layout templates are the different layout options available out of the box. For example there may be a situation where you need to create a page with web parts in the header, footer and body zones. Based on your layout requirements choose the best layout template available. Now let’s see how some of the out of the box layout templates look:
Header, Footer, 3 Columns
Full Page, Vertical
If you only need one web part to be a part of the page layout, then this template would be perfect.
You should test out different layouts to understand how they all work. In addition to using the default templates it’s possible to also make customizations with SharePoint Designer or by using custom code.
Now let’s see the widely used default layouts available for publishing pages. Navigate to the ‘Settings’ gear icon, then ‘Site contents’ and click on the ‘Pages’ library (not ‘Site Pages’). If the ‘Pages’ library is not present then activate ‘SharePoint Server Publishing,’ which can be found by navigating to ‘Site Settings,’ then under ‘Site Actions’ click ‘Manage site features.’ When you will click on ‘New Document’ to create a page you should see the following layout options.
Let’s choose the first option, ‘Page.’ Next we see ‘Create Page’ with various options to input a title, description, URL, and page layout.
If you make a mistake choosing a page layout, don’t worry, for publishing pages there is the option to modify the layout after it has been initially created. To do this navigate to the newly created publishing page. On the top ribbon, click ‘Edit’ and find ‘Page Layout.’
Of note is that you will need to use Internet Explorer for the ‘Page Layout’ option to be accessible, as other browsers do not support this functionality. By clicking ‘Page Layout’ you should again see the layout options available for publishing pages.
It is possible to customize layouts and create our own as well. Before creating a custom layout though, browse through the available defaults trying to find one that meets your needs. Default layouts allow for movement across environments, enable easier migration, and ultimately save time.