Here we will discuss what is the difference between a list and document library in SharePoint. Once you start with concepts like list and document library, this question comes to mind first, what is the difference between a list and a document library? Where should I use list and where should we go for a document library? Well, rather than thinking of a straight forward answer, we should understand what is list and what is document libraries in SharePoint? And few difference between these two.
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A SharePoint list is a like a table in sql server database or an excel spreadsheet which will have columns or fields or properties. A list also can contain one or more attachments or files.
On the other hand libraries are special types of lists which are created to store documents. Each file in a document library is like one one item. It also has columns or fields or properties.
Document library has check-in and check-out features but list does not have. Document library can have major version and minor versions but List will have major versions only.
Without a document you can not create an item in a document library but in list you can, list can contain additionally attachments. Similarly you can not have document sets in list where as you can have in document library.
Files are handled a little differently by search. When a user searches for a keyword in a document, if the document is in a library, they find the document listed in the search results. But when the document is a list attachment, search returns the list item. The user would then need to click the list item and then click on the attachments.
SharePoint also provides various libraries for specific proposes like picture library, form library etc.
Mostly SharePoint represents structural data where are library we use to store unstructured data.
List and libraries are almost same, both have few common functionality like both can contain documents, both can have columns, versioning, views etc. While choosing you should choose based on the type of information you are working with, which one is important for your business requirement? For example for a training institute if you want to keep track of your students then you should choose a SharePoint list and in the other hand if you want to keep or share training related documents then you should go for a document library.