Require approval of items in a site list or library

Some site lists and libraries contain sensitive information, such as projected marketing campaigns or human resources initiatives. It can be important to have only “official” versions of items or files viewable by users. To achieve that, some organizations require 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.

In this article


Specify that items or files in a list or library require approval

To set up required approval of items or files

  1. If the site list or library is not already open, click its name in the Quick Launch pane.
  2. On the ribbon, click the Library tab.
  3. If you are working in a library, click Library Settings. If you are working in a list, click List settings.
  4. Under General Settings, select Versioning settings to open the Versioning Settings page.
  5. In the Content Approval section, select Yes in answer to the Require content approval for submitted items? In the Document Version History section, specify whether you want SharePoint to create versions when a file is edited. You can also choose to limit the number of versions that are retained.
  6. In the Draft Item Security section, determine which users can see draft items in the document library.

Screenshot of the settings page for a SharePoint list. A callout on the screenshot points to a link for Versioning Settings.

 Tip    If you require content approval for a list or library that already contains items, all of the items in the library are marked Approved.

  1. You can choose any of the following:
  • Users who can read items in the list
  • Only users who can edit items in the list
  • Only users who can approve items in the list, and the item author
  1. Click OK.

More information about approval status

If someone submits an item to a list or library that requires approvals, it is in Pending status until someone approves it. While it is awaiting approval, it remains in Pending status.

Usually, when an item is in Pending status, only the item originator and the people who have permissions to manage lists and libraries can see it. After its status changes from Pending to Approved, it becomes visible to anyone who has permission to view the list or library. Rejected articles stay in the list or library until the originator—or someone else who has the necessary permissions—deletes them. Any items or files that already exist in the list or library are granted Approved status automatically.

 Important    If security in the site library is configured to allow any user to read items, then anyone who has Read permissions to the site can see all items in the list or library, whether the items are in Approved status.

Only persons who have Full Control or Design permissions can alter List or Library settings.

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Remove approval requirement from a site list or library

If you determine that your organization no longer needs to have every item or file approved, you can remove the requirement.

To remove the requirement for approval of items or files in a list or library

  1. If the site list or library is not already open, click its name in the Quick Launch pane.
  2. On the ribbon, click the Library tab in the Library Tools group or the List tab in the List Tools group.
  3. If you are working in a library, click Library Settings. If you are working in a list, click List Settings.
  4. Under General Settings, select Versioning settings to open the Versioning Settings page.
  5. In the Content Approval section, select No in answer to the Require content approval for submitted items? question. Click OK to close the warning message that appears.
  6. Click OK to close the Versioning Settings dialog box. All users who have permission to view the list or library can view all content that resides there.

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Applies to:
SharePoint Foundation 2013, SharePoint Online Enterprise (E1), SharePoint Online Enterprise (E3 & E4), SharePoint Online operated by 21Vianet - Enterprise (E1 & E2), SharePoint Online operated by 21Vianet - Enterprise (E3 & E4), SharePoint Online operated by 21Vianet - Small Business, SharePoint Online Small Business, SharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise, SharePoint Server 2013 Standard