I'm making an workflow with two steps on reviewing.

Fist step after a list item is included.

The reviewer will verify the item and choose to accept or reject.

If he rejects, the item is rejected and the workflow stops.

If he accepts, the item is accepted and then set back to pending so the approver will be able to accept it again.

Accepting and then setting back to pending sounds like a bad practice. What I would want to know is how to set it as approved by the reviewer without really setting it to approved for the public.

  • Are you using content approval? What tells SharePoint when it should be available to the public?
    – Erin L
    Mar 10, 2016 at 17:03
  • If it is approved so the public can see.
    – Phiter
    Mar 10, 2016 at 17:04
  • But it sounded like saying the approver should be able to approve it without the public seeing. How is it differentiated in SharePoint?
    – Erin L
    Mar 10, 2016 at 17:22
  • No no no, the reviewer must like "approve" it in the reviewing proccess so the task is assigned to the final approver. But since the reviewer approves the item, it's visible to the public, even if just for a few seconds before the workflow sets it to pending again.
    – Phiter
    Mar 10, 2016 at 17:46
  • Actually what I'm trying to achieve is what this guy asked.
    – Phiter
    Mar 10, 2016 at 17:47

3 Answers 3


I think what you want is the start approval process action in Designer.

  1. Turn on content approval for submitted items under versioning settings. Set "who should see draft items" to only users who can approve items" (this is the default).
  2. Add action to your workflow, "Start approval process." This is basically like running an approval process inside your workflow. It's got a lot of steps and I'll be here to answer your questions as they come up.
  3. Click on "these users" to set who the approvers will be, in what order, and whether it's sequential or parallel. It sounds like the default settings will be fine for you, but if not, you can click on "Approval" to customize the tasks and actions.
  4. After you've added the Start Approval Process step, in the line before that action, set the variable "Cancel on Rejection" to Yes. That will insure the workflow ends if an approver rejects it.
  5. By default, this approval process will set content approval to Yes and non-approval members will be able to see the changed document only once everyone has approved.

There's no need to set it back to pending unless the content changes. This will happen automatically through the content approval settings.

  • Thank you very much for your answer, I'll check it out right now. But I have a question. If one of the reviewers want to send the document back to the creator or edit it himself, and then start the workflow again for the editted document, is it possible using the start approval action?
    – Phiter
    Mar 10, 2016 at 18:09
  • I would just teach them to terminate and restart the whole workflow.
    – Erin L
    Mar 10, 2016 at 18:12
  • Oh, there is an option to tell the workflow to stop if any changes are made to the item.
    – Erin L
    Mar 10, 2016 at 18:13

I'd be moving away from the idea that the reviewer approves the item, and then it gets set back to pending so that the approver can approve.

Really all that need to happen is that the reviewer approves the task that is assigned to them. Once they do that that, the approver should also get a task, which once approved then the item is set to approved. At any point if there is a rejection then the workflow would stop.

Have you taken a good look at the out of the box approval workflows? I'd be surprised if they don't meet your needs based on your information.

  • I wanted to make a custom one. Also, on simply making a task for the reviewer, how do I get the reviewer to approve or not the item?
    – Phiter
    Mar 10, 2016 at 22:31
  • That's cool if you want to make your own workflow, but I would highly recommend taking close look at the out of box approval workflow, both from a user perspective to understand how the tasks are assigned, completed and the item approved, but also as a developer, if you open it up in SharePoint designer you can learn a lot about how these workflows work. I know I have learnt heaps from doing that!
    – Paul Lucas
    Mar 11, 2016 at 8:16
  • I can't seem to open it in SharePoint Designer
    – Phiter
    Mar 11, 2016 at 11:17
  • Nevermind, I just needed to copy it in order to edit it.
    – Phiter
    Mar 11, 2016 at 11:38
  • 1
    You could actually use the OOTB ones without editing them. You go into the list workflow settings and click Add Workflow. When you associate a workflow to the list, it will give you a setting to say whether rejecting ends the workflow, and a setting to say whether the content is approved for publishing once all users have approved. I only write my own because I hate the text in the OOTB ones. I find it messy and vague.
    – Erin L
    Mar 11, 2016 at 15:00

Well, I have learned where I was going wrong.

Since it's Sharepoint 2013's workflow, there is no such thing as a Start approval proccess, but there is the Assign task.

Adding this action and setting it to some person/group will let you continue using the Approve/Reject buttons on the task itself, not changing the item.

Then using the value returned by the task in a conditional would let me choose where to go next.

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