Content Approval in SharePoint

In this SharePoint tutorial, we discussed Content Approval in SharePoint lists or libraries. We covered topics such as what Content Approval is in SharePoint lists or libraries and why content approval is necessary.

We will also learn how to enable Content Approval in a SharePoint list or library and how to approve documents in SharePoint lists or libraries.

Also, we will learn how to set up a document approval workflow in the SharePoint document library.

SharePoint Content Approval

The SharePoint content approval feature allows site members with approver permission to approve new items created in the list or library. Once approved, the item will appear in the list or library.

When an approval feature is enabled in a SharePoint list or library, any item added by a user won’t be immediately available to all users. Instead, it will be in a pending stage. Only after an approver approves the item will it become available to all users.

By default, content approvals are turned off in the SharePoint list or library.

Why is SharePoint Content Approval Necessary?

SharePoint content approval is essential because it ensures that only accurate content is added to the list or library. It helps prevent errors and protects sensitive information.


Imagine you are running a company’s website using SharePoint. Different departments submit content like articles or updates.

Content approval ensures that before anything goes live, someone checks it to make sure it’s accurate, appropriate, and aligns with the company’s standards.

By utilizing this feature, we can prevent misinformation from reaching our audience.

How to Enable Content Approval in SharePoint List or Library?

Now, we see how to enable content approval in a SharePoint list using the same steps as for the library.

To do this, follow the below steps:

1. Go to any SharePoint list and click on the gear icon. After that, click on List Settings. Then click  Versioning Settings.

sharepoint document approval workflow

2. In the Content Approval section, select ‘Yes’ for “Require content approval for submitted items? ” like the screenshot below:

sharepoint list approval workflow

3. Then choose “Create a version each time you edit an item in this list?” as Yes.

sharepoint approve document

4. In the Draft Item Security section, specify that only the site author or administrator should be able to view drafts in this document library. Select ‘Only users who can approve items (and the author of the item).’ Then click OK.

sharepoint content approval

5. When you go to the SharePoint list, you can see the Approval Status column. By default, the Approval Status of each existing item is Approved.

sharepoint approval process

6. If you add any item to the SharePoint list, its Approval Status is pending.

document approval sharepoint

This way, you can enable content approval in the SharePoint list or library.

After enabling content approval, you can see two views were added to the SharePoint list or library.

content approval sharepoint

How to Approve/Reject Items in a SharePoint List

Now, we will see how to approve/reject items in the SharePoint list.

There are two ways we can Approve or Reject items in the SharePoint list or library.

The first way is to select the SharePoint list item, click on the three dots (…), and then choose ‘Approve/Reject’ from the command bar.

require content approval for submitted items

The second way is to select the ECB (Edit Control Block) menu for the item you want to approve or reject. Then click ‘More’, and you will see the ‘Approve/Reject’ option in a dialog box.

sharepoint document approval

You can use either method. After clicking ‘Approve/Reject,’ a dialog box will appear where you can choose ‘Approved,’ ‘Rejected,’ or ‘Pending.’ You can also add comments in the comment box(If you have permission).

Here, I approved the item and added a comment, then clicked OK.

sharepoint approval

Then, you can see the item was approved successfully.

sharepoint approvals

This way, you can approve or reject items in the SharePoint list or library.

SharePoint Document Approval Workflow

In this example, I will see how to create a document approval workflow in the SharePoint library.

The same way you can do for the SharePoint list. Now follow the below steps:

1. Open the SharePoint document library. Do not enable the content approval feature, as it will not work if enabled.

document approval workflow sharepoint

2. Select the document, click the ECB (Edit Control Block), then choose ‘Automate‘ and click ‘Request sign-off.’

sharepoint online document approval workflow

Alternatively, you can select the document, click the three dots (…), choose ‘Automate,’ and then click ‘Request sign-off.’

sharepoint online approval workflow

3. On the right side, the Create a Flow panel opens, then click Create Flow.

document approval in sharepoint

4. Then, the Run flow panel opens. Then, type in the name of the approvers and add a personal message then click Run flow.

how to approve documents in sharepoint

5. You will receive a confirmation message.

sharepoint document approval workflow power automate

6. Now, you can see a new column, “Sign-off status,” added to our document library.

approval workflow sharepoint online

7. Now, the approver will receive an email in Outlook to approve or reject the document.

sharepoint approval status

8. The approver can see the document using the link below the date.

document approval workflow in sharepoint

9. After checking the document, the approver can approve or reject it by clicking ‘Approve’ or ‘Reject,’ adding a comment, and then clicking ‘Submit.’ In my case, the approver approved my document.

document approval workflow for sharepoint

10. After submitting, the approver will receive a message like this in Outlook.

sharepoint list approval flow

11. When you go to your document library, you can see your document is approved.

How to request document approval in SharePoint using Power Automate

By following these steps, you can set up a document approval workflow in the SharePoint library.

In this article, we discussed SharePoint Content Approval and explained why it’s important. We also walked through the process of enabling Content Approval in SharePoint lists or libraries and approving or rejecting items once it’s activated. Finally, we covered setting up a document approval workflow in SharePoint document libraries.

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  • 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.

  • Hello, I try to open Approve.aspx from PowerApps by clicking on custom button as launch(“”)

    it is opening in separate tab instead of as modal dialog form as you mentioned in above image (SharePoint Content Approval Form).

    How can I do this?


  • I want to copy the Approved/Rejected items to another list with Approve name and approval date, but these 2 columns are not available to copy. How should I do?

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