I'm very new to SharePoint and have a stupidly high level of access to a site built for our team (dangerous!). Apologies if this is a duplicate question however I haven't been able to find a resolution so far which is probably because no one was stupid enough to make the same mistake. Here goes:

On the list settings page I clicked "Add from existing site columns" to try and add a column that is available on other site libraries/pages. Unfortunately the column names were too long to show up in the little 'Available site columns' box you see below and there were multiple that started out the same so I added the whole lot to the 'columns to add' box on the right thinking I could just put them back afterwards.

Nope. I now can't figure out how to remove those columns I've added without completely deleting them from existence according to the error messages and they're cropping up in forms on other pages and affecting columns that I believe were calculated columns.

Anyone have any suggestions? I hope the explanation made sense, happy to provide more info if necessary. Would rather fix this myself then go crawling back to the dev team.

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  • crawl back to the DEV team... you might get some flack.. but you might get more if you mess up. May 31, 2016 at 15:33

1 Answer 1


Welcome to the site.

What happens when you add site columns to a list or content type is that a copy of that column is taken and added to the list or content type. For this reason, if you were to delete the columns from the list or content type, you would only ever be deleting the copy.

Are you using content types in your list?

If so, go to your list's settings, click the content type and delete the columns from there. Those columns will now no longer show up in forms. It's also safe to delete them from the list of columns you see under the Columns heading in List Settings.

If not, go ahead and delete the columns directly from under the Columns heading in List Settings.

The errors you're seeing are possibly along the lines of "you can't delete this site column because it's currently being used in a content type". Are you sure you want to delete the site column? If you're sure you want to do this, you need to delete the columns from the content types that are using them before you can delete the site columns.

  • Thank you so much, this was very helpful and explained in terms I could easily comprehend at my level of SharePoint understand. This particular list is using content types however I've just had a look and the problem columns in question are not in use by the content types, so should be fine to delete. They appear to be several test columns that are still in existence behind the scenes.
    – anony456
    Jun 1, 2016 at 10:08
  • Go ahead and delete. Let us know how you get on :)
    – Submits
    Jun 1, 2016 at 10:19
  • Update @Submits This worked!! Perfect. Thanks again, now I have a bit more understanding for future learning experiences....!
    – anony456
    Jun 1, 2016 at 10:27

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