Versioning Settings for Lists and Libraries in SharePoint 2013

This article will discuss the various versioning settings configurations possible in SharePoint 2013 lists and libraries. Since versioning settings are slightly different for lists and libraries they will be explored separately.

Versioning is used for lists or libraries to track their modification history. Information stored typically includes who authored the change and a timestamp of when it was made. Default versioning in SharePoint 2013 also allows for restoring an item to a previous version.

Enabling versioning on a list or library requires a user to have at minimum ‘Manage’ rights for the list or library in question.

To enable versioning settings on list or library navigate to the list or library settings, and then click on ‘Versioning settings.’

Versioning Settings for Lists

When the ‘Versioning settings’ are visited for a list in SharePoint 2013 the following should appear:


Content Approval: When this option is enabled it requires that any items submitted by users to the list be approved by a user that has the ‘Manage’ right before appearing. If this feature is turned on two views are added to the list:

  • Approve/reject items: Those will ‘Manage’ rights can see the status of items submitted and set the ‘Approval Status’ to Approved, Rejected, or Pending
  • My submission: Regular users can use this view to see the ‘Approval Status’ of their submitted items

When new items are added or old items are modified they are marked as ‘Pending,’ and are only visible to the user who created or modified the item and those with the ‘Manage’ right. When an item has been ‘Approved’ it is viewable to all that have at least the ‘Read’ right. When an item is ‘Rejected’ it is returned to the user who originally created or changed it.

Items that are submitted by users with ‘Manage’ rights are automatically approved, however other users with the same right can reject the items, but this does not automatically delete them. For more information on how exactly this feature operates visit the Microsoft information page here.

Item Version History: With this turned on whenever a list item is altered by a user a new version is created. There are two further options that limit the total number of versions allowed, as well the number of drafts for each approved version. Drafts are temporary versions of documents that have not been approved by a user with ‘Manage’ rights.

Draft Item Security: This controls which individuals can view drafts of the list, in increasing order of restrictiveness.

Versioning Settings for Libraries:

For libraries when ‘Versioning settings’ is visited the following options should appear:


Content Approval: This is an almost identical feature between lists and libraries. The only difference is that documents are now involved for approval instead of items.

Document Version History: Again, this is an almost identical feature to lists, expect we see some extra options. Instead of only ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to turning document versioning we have ‘No,’ ‘Create major versions’ and ‘Create major and minor (draft versions).

  • No versioning: Self-explanatory, versioning will be off
  • Create major versions: Only major published revisions will be tracked
  • Create major and minor (draft) versions: All revisions will be tracked

Major revisions are numbered as whole numbers (e.g. 1, 2, 3, etc.) while minor versions have an additional decimal numbering (e.g. 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, etc.). Major versions will always be viewable to all that have ‘Read’ rights, while access to draft versions will depend on the level of restrictiveness of the next settings, ‘Draft Item Security.’

Draft Item Security: This setting is almost identical to its list counter-part.

Require Check Out: This is another unique feature for libraries, and a really cool feature. When enabled a user will automatically ‘Check Out’ a resource while editing it. Once done the same user can ‘Check In’ the file and publish it as a major version visible to all. When a file is checked out the version as it appeared before being checked out is still accessible to all with at least ‘Read’ rights.

Essentially this feature prevents a file from being worked on by two or more individuals at once without the others knowing. If a file is checked out, it becomes a draft version and the draft version is not visible to users with ‘Read’ only rights until it has been published.

Turn on Versioning Today

Versioning is an incredibly powerful and customizable tool in SharePoint 2013. The ability to track changes, made by whom and when, combined with being able to revert to past versions could mean one less headache next time data is entered incorrectly to a list or a document is overwritten in a library.

If you’re not currently using versioning, you should really be asking yourself why not!

August 20, 2014


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