I'm trying to use the "Append Changes to Existing Text" with a Document Library which contains multiple Document Set -based Content Types. This is a handy way to maintain a running commentary for content.

However, I'm seeing odd behavior.

I've created my own 'Multiple lines of text' custom Site Column and have tried Plain Text, Rich Text, and Enhanced Rich Text. I've selected "Yes" for "Append Changes to Existing Text". Versioning is on for the Document Library (I've tried setting it to both major and minor versioning).

Each time I edit the column, the value is saved with the date/time stamp, but I only see the last value. Previous values seem to disappear. Any ideas?

  • Do the previous versions appear in the version history?
    – James Love
    Nov 1, 2012 at 18:33
  • When I look at the Version History, I don't see any versions listed even though I have major/minor versioning on. Does versioning not work with Document Sets??? Nov 1, 2012 at 18:41

3 Answers 3


The SharePoint "Append Changes to Existing Text" column is a HACK implemented by the SharePoint team, in reality it's just an ordinary text field, but where the rendering is grapping the text from previous versions and using these to create what appears to be a functioning append text field.

So the field is very dependend on the prior versions to exist (you can try deleting a version or an item/document with text on it and see that part disappear from the total text).

Unfortunately versioning hasn't been implemented for folders and because document sets are just glorified folders not for document set either, there is always only the current version (1.0).

This combination things result in "Append Changes to Existing Text" not working with folders and document sets. :-(

  • Is the ‘append changes’ functionality the only way to achieve ‘comment style’ additions to list items? Apr 20, 2020 at 10:20

I've ran into this before when using "Append-Only" within a Document Library. I've had success in the past using the OOTB Site Column called: Append-Only Comments

This seem to function as expected however I did notice some odd behavior when changing the Display Name of the column. That was in 2007 however. YMMV

  • I just tried Append-Only Comments and got exactly the same behavior, sadly. I think that column is basically the same thing as I built myself, but is available out of the box. Nov 1, 2012 at 18:24
  • Jeez... and here I thought I was going to get some points on here. Oh well. Just a thought, web services can query versions, so that may be an option for you. I'm sure you have already thought about that though. :D
    – iOnline247
    Nov 1, 2012 at 18:26
  • The prior versions don't seem to stick around, though, unfortunately, or else that might be a way to go. Nov 1, 2012 at 18:29

I suspect this is linked to the fact that Document Sets don't automatically create versions, I'm assuming that the column is on a Document Set?

Test the behaviour when this column is added to a document content type in the same library.

If the document behaves correctly then roll a custom ItemUpdating event receiver to handle doing the appending.

  • You're asking Marc 'Client Side King' Anderson to roll up server side code? :-)
    – James Love
    Nov 1, 2012 at 18:39
  • 2
    Yeah, like I'm going to write an event receiver to band aid crappy SharePoint functionality. ;-) Nov 1, 2012 at 18:47
  • Haha, good point! Run the test and let me know. I could smash out the event receiver pretty easily.
    – GavinB
    Nov 1, 2012 at 19:20
  • As far As I understand it, Gavin is correct that versioning is not automatic in Document Sets. You can "Capture" a version of the Document Set but this would not do much for "Append Only" Columns. However, I do believe that the documents in the set still support their own versioning and "Append Only" should work as expected. But as I said, that's how I understand it working and I might not be exactly correct. Nov 2, 2012 at 9:15

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