What is a list in SharePoint Online?

A list in SharePoint Online is a collection of data that gives you and your co-workers a flexible way to organize items, create calendars, to-do lists, and time lines.

You can add columns for different types of data, such as text, currency, or multiple choice, create views to display data effectively, and sort or filter data in many ways. A list can include links, images, audio, or video, as well as attachments. A list can also provide calculated columns and import or export external data to apps such as Microsoft CRM or SAP line of business apps. You can add versioning to track multiple iterations of a list item, or create alerts to let you know when something changes.

Unlike SharePoint Online document libraries, lists are not created by default when you create a site. You can add them wherever you need to. Lists support over a dozen types of data you can sort, index, and calculate using internal or external data. With a list you can create various views to organize and display data that best suits the needs of you and your team.

Let's take a look around

A list can take many forms that depend on the type of information you want to use and share. You can create time lines, calendars, discussion board, project tasks, surveys, and other apps.


  • Does your screen look different than the examples here? Your administrator may have classic experience set on the list, or you're using an earlier version. If so, see Introduction to lists. If you're a list owner, site owner, or administrator, see Switch the default experience for lists or document libraries from new or classic for the steps to set the default experience.

  • Some features are currently only available in classic experience. Click Return to classic SharePoint in the bottom, left corner of the page to switch to classic experience. To exit classic experience, close all SharePoint windows, and reopen.

To get started, click Settings Settings icon and click Site contents, click + New and then pick List to create a list on your site. See Create a list in SharePoint for more info.

New link clicked with List highlighted

Once your list is created, you can click Quick Edit to add the most commonly used columns for your content.

List view with QuickEdit highlighted

You can easily add a column from the Quick Edit screen by clicking + and entering the column title or label. You can also add your data quickly in the spreadsheet like format.

Quick edit screen with columns and data added

SharePoint Online lists can be used for more than a simple list. You can choose from apps such as Links, Calendar, Survey, Issue Tracking, Announcements, and other. To start, click + New, and click App. Use the search box to find an app that fills the task. For more info, see Create a list in SharePoint.

Apps to add screen

When you use a custom list, you can create custom views based on different filters or sort orders to highlight the data in various ways, all using the same data.

Gantt chart with data

At the top right of the list page, you can change the list view from All items to one of your custom views. You can also save a custom view by clicking Save view or if you are a list owner or administrator, you can manage views on the list settings page by clicking Manage views.

View menu with alternate view selected

You can export a list to Excel or create a PowerApp. PowerApps are a service for building custom business apps that connect to your data and work across the web and mobile - without the time and expense of custom software development. See Introducing Microsoft PowerApps for more information. You can also use Microsoft Flow to automatic workflows between your apps and services to get notifications, synchronize files, collect data and other tasks. See Get started with Microsoft Flow for a quick overview.

PowerApp menu with Create and App selected

If you're working with a team, you can create alerts on your list and data to receive notifications when something has changed.

Alert Me menu with Alert me selected

When building your list, you can add new columns or select the columns to display by clicking the list Add a Column Add a list column button button on the far right side of the column headers.

List with Add column button highlighted

In the information pane you can view and edit information about an item, such as properties, recent activity, or how it is shared. To show or hide the information pane, select a file or folder and click Open the details pane Document Library Details Pane on the right-hand side of the main menu. You can also view the information pane by right-clicking a file or folder and selecting Details. To close the details window, click Open the details pane Document Library Details Pane again.

Open the details pane button highlighted

The menu at the top left of the list changes with the context of the list. If nothing is selected, you'll see actions you can do with the list, like export to Excel or create a new list item. When you select a list item, the menu changes to actions you can perform on that item. If you select more than one item, it changes again. If you see ellipses (...) on any menu, click that for even more actions.

List menu for a simple list

You can see another version of the list menu by right-clicking the file name or, if in Details or All items view, by clicking the ellipses (...) next to the file name. This menu contains additional selections such as setting an alert or creating a new PowerApp.

Ready to start?

Here are some links to articles to help you get going.

Create a list in SharePoint

Edit list settings in SharePoint Online

Delete a list in SharePoint

Create a column in a SharePoint list or library

Get notified when a SharePoint Online list or list item changes

Control who has access to a list or an individual list item.

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Updated October 31, 2016

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