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I'm still learning SharePoint and I'm coming getting stuck on whether to create a new content type or add a site column to an existing content type.

For example, I created a base company document content type that has a few columns that every document the company uses will have. I plan on creating content types for every form they use. Some of the forms have a reference to the process that the form belongs to. Would it be better to create another content type called reference that would link to the forms or add a column to the base company document content type that would describe the type (form, reference, etc...)?

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The reasons to use content types rather than adding columns:

  1. If you have two disparate types of information in one list/library. ex: A list that has purchase requests for new employees and for new equipment.
  2. If you are going to use the same type of information on multiple sites/lists/libraries. ex: You have a content type that inherits from document that has to include fields for what department is responsible for maintaining it and you want to use this in all libraries across the site.
  3. You have a specific field on a content type that you want to display on search results.
  4. You really, really want the New ... dropdown to have a name for the specific type of form you've created. ex: New Time-Off Request.
  5. You are OCD.

Just avoid them for one-off small things.

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