A common question I get is when I should create a list and when I should create a library...The conundrum though is when they always ask should they store documents within a list as attachments or should documents be stored in a library ?

Can you help me with some tips...

3 Answers 3


This link contains a good list of answers on when to use a list and when to use a library.

  • to further refine my question - when would you ever want to insert an attachment into a list vs storing it as a document in a library
    – daPlayaURH
    Feb 3, 2016 at 21:22

In the world of knowledge management (where I live), the rule of thumb is you never attach a document to an article but rather store it in a shared library & provide a link to it in the article. The reason behind this is that if you have that document attached to multiple articles (list items), you now have to remember & manage it in all of those locations. If you have it stored in a single shared location, you only have to manage/update it in one location & because it's linked, it will always be up-to-date in the articles/list items that reference it.

So for your situation, instead of having the Attachments option active, add a 'reference files' type field (rich text) that stores links to the relevant files in the library.

I hope this helps!


It just depends on the type of information you’re working with. Is the document important or is the information about that document is required? So for example, if you need to keep track of registrations for an event; it would be more efficient to have them in a Custom List as you can create views to see how many people have accepted or declined, all their contact details, dietary preferences, bringing partners, etc.

But if you were working with contracts and you have multiple people working on the clauses, a Document Library would be more efficient with a few columns to quickly categories what type of contract it is, who owns it, what version it’s on, check out check in functionality, etc.

If you want to bulk upload documents, document library has open with explorer option where you can easily drag and drop documents, which is not available in list.

For more information: http://veroniquepalmer.com/2013/02/24/the-difference-between-sharepoint-2010-lists-libraries-and-pages/

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