SharePoint Content Approval – Approve/Reject documents or items

In this SharePoint tutorial, learn what content approval in SharePoint. How we can enable content approval in SharePoint 2013/2016 or SharePoint Online. Then I will show, how can you approve/reject list items or documents in SharePoint Online using the SharePoint list/library content approval feature.

What is SharePoint content approval?

SharePoint content approval feature allows approvers (members of a site who have approver permission) to publish list items or documents for a list or library.

If a SharePoint list or document library has document approval feature enabled, then when a user adds an item or document to a document library, it will not available to all the users, the item will be in pending stage. Once an approver, approves an item or document then only it will be available to all the users.

By default, content approvals are turned off and any user with reading access can see draft items in most apps. SharePoint sites created with the publishing site template, already have content approval turned on in the Pages app.

Why SharePoint Content Approval is required?

SharePoint lists and libraries can often contain sensitive information which can be important to have only “official” versions of items or files viewable by users. And to view this you require the approval of an item or file before the content becomes visible to most site users.

By requiring approval, the organization can apply a significant level of quality and security to the content in the lists and libraries.by enabling this a document draft awaiting content approval is in the Pending status. When an approver reviews the document and approves the content, it becomes available for viewing by users who have read permissions.

A document library owner can enable content approval for a document library and, optionally, can associate a workflow with the library to run the approval process.

The best example to explain is if we are creating a blog site we need to review all blogs from the contributors before publishing.

Enable Content Approval in SharePoint List or Document Library

Here we will see first how we can enable/disable content approval in a SharePoint list or document library in SharePoint Online/2013/2016.

Step-1

If you are using a modern SharePoint list or library, click on the gear icon and then click on List Settings/Library Settings like below:

sharepoint content approval

Open the SharePoint list or document library and click on Library Settings like below, if you are using a classic SharePoint site.

 SharePoint content approval
SharePoint content approval

Step-2

Now click on Versioning Settings which is under General Settings in the list or library settings page.

Step-3

There you can see Content Approval section, choose Yes for “Require content approval for submitted items?” like below:

enable content approval sharepoint online
enable content approval sharepoint online

Step-4

Next, we come up with Document Version History where you find three options,

  • No Versioning: If versioning is not being used and a new document is uploaded to the document library, it is added to the library in the Pending status and is not visible by users who have read permissions until it is approved.
  • Create major versions: If major versioning is being used and a new document is uploaded to the document library, it is added to the library in the Pending status and is not viewable by users who have read permissions until it is approved as version 1.
  • Create major and minor versions: If major and minor versioning is being used and a new document is uploaded to the document library, it can be added to the library either in the Draft status as version 0.1 or the author can immediately request approval. In this case, the document’s status becomes Pending.

Here we have select Create major version as we don’t want viewers to view who have read permissions until it is approved.

content approval sharepoint 2016
content approval SharePoint 2016

Step-5

Draft Item Security Specify which users should be able to view drafts in this document library. Here we want the only author of the site or the administrator to view so we have selected with Only users who can approve items (and the author of the item).

content approval sharepoint 2013
content approval sharepoint 2013

Step-6

Next comes up with require to Check Out where it asks us to Specify whether users must check out documents before making changes in this document library or not. Then click on the ok button to activate.

content approval sharepoint 2010
content approval SharePoint 2013

Now an item or a file in a site gets approved in a list or library if the person has Full Control or Design permissions. As an administrator, we will follow steps to approve items.

Step-7

In modern SharePoint list or library, you can see two views got added like below:

content approval in sharepoint online library

In classic site, we can see a new column has been added as Approved Status as well as two new view types are created alongside with default view. These are Approve/reject Items and My Submissions view.

content approval sharepoint online
content approval SharePoint online

In the modern list, you can see the Approval Status column. By default, the Approval Status of each existing items will be Approved.

content approval in sharepoint online list

Step-8

If you will open the Approve/reject Items list view in the SharePoint site. You will see all your Pending and Approved Items like below:

content approval for submitted items

Clicking on Approve/reject items view we can see various status and items in it like how many files are in approved state and how many are in pending and how many are rejected.

sharepoint 2016 content approval
SharePoint 2016 content approval

Step-9

My Submissions view helps to look into documents and items which are submitted by the logged in user.

sharepoint 2013 content approval
SharePoint 2013 content approval

Approve/Reject Items or Documents after Content Approval Enabled

Now, we will see how an approved can approve/reject items after content approval has been enabled in the SharePoint Online list or library.

Step-10

There are two ways, we can Approve or Reject items.

Select the SharePoint Online list item and then click on the ... -> Approve/Reject from the command bar like below:

content approval in sharepoint online
Approve or reject list item

Or Select the ECB menu and then click on More -> Approve/Reject like below:

content approval in sharepoint list

Then you can select from the below options:

  • Approved
  • Rejected
  • Pending

And you can put additional comments also in the Comment box like below:

content approval in sharepoint document library

It will add one additional column as "Approver Comments" like below, where you can see the Approver's comment.

sharepoint list content approval status

In the classic SharePoint list, Open the SharePoint list or document library and select an item. Click on [...] -> Advanced and then click on Approve/Reject.

sharepoint 2010 content approval
SharePoint 2013 Approve/Reject documents or items

Step-11

Choose Approved option, to make the item visible to all users. Choose Rejected if you want to reject the item and it will return the item to the creator and the item will only be visible to the creator and all other users who can see the draft. If you choose the Pending option, then the document will be visible to the user who created the item as well as to all the users who can see draft items in SharePoint Online.

sharepoint online content approval
SharePoint online content approval

You may like following SharePoint tutorials:

Here I have explained what is content approval in SharePoint Online or SharePoint 2013/2016? Why we require content approval in SharePoint? And how we can enable content approval in the SharePoint list or document libraries.

Then also I have shown how an approver can approve and reject items in SharePoint online or SharePoint 2013/2016/2019.

  • A great article! Very Informative! One question though: how/where do I see any comments that are included with the content approval/rejection?

  • Hi Bhawana, Such a great explanation and it is very useful for us. We are expecting more articles from you. Thaks for your effort.

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