Different between SharePoint list and Document library

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 the list and where should we go to a document library? Well, rather than thinking of a straightforward answer, we should understand what is a 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 item. It also has columns or fields or properties.

Document library has check-in and check-out features but the list does not have. A document library can have a 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 the list, you can, the list can contain additionally attachments. Similarly, you can not have document sets in list whereas you can have in a 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, the 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 our library we use to store unstructured data.

List and libraries are almost the same, both have few common functionalities 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.


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About Bijay Kumar

I am Bijay from Odisha, India. Currently working in my own venture TSInfo Technologies in Bangalore, India. I am Microsoft Office Servers and Services (SharePoint) MVP (5 times). I works in SharePoint 2016/2013/2010, SharePoint Online Office 365 etc. Check out My MVP Profile.. I also run popular SharePoint web site SharePointSky.com

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