Basic Search Set-up in "Out of the Box" SharePoint

By Lorette S.J. Weldon, Published on February 12, 2011


When staff and other users search for content in Microsoft SharePoint out of the box (OOTB), there are four questions to ask. The research requires you to ask the four "W"'s: What; Who; Where; When (Weldon, 2005). What type of SharePoint item do you wish to obtain? Who contributed and/or created the SharePoint item? Where did the SharePoint item come from (the source)? When was the SharePoint item created and/or modified? This would work for Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 3.0 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007. WSS is the basic compilation of applications. Special features to add on to your SharePoint would be called MOSS.

To answer the four W's you will need to know the tools that Microsoft has given you to make SharePoint work for the librarian/information professional. Microsoft knows that you want to classify the documents by tagging metadata to it. This is one of the fun tasks that we experience through social media sites, like Flickr, Facebook, Delicious, etc. SharePoint has much more formal and efficient ways to tag the documents for your online library that will still get the tagging done.

WSS 3.0's Inclusive Search

This discussion will cover WSS 3.0 and its default settings which only allow searching performed inside a single site. The search option "This Site" is not mutually exclusive but, rather mutually inclusive for down-level sites and lists. This means that given the top-site hierarchy (top-site, sub site...), the search for a particular term will return all results from the current site and all down-level sites.

SharePoint FlowchartFor example, if you start at the top level site using your organization's url, http://lmis.sharepointsite.com and then proceed to perform a search using the term "lmis" within the search box located in the top-right hand corner of the page, you will get results from down-level sub-sites in addition to lists in the current top-level site. The type of WSS v3 farm deployment would allow for the functionality of the mutually inclusive search.

SharePoint Search InterfaceIf you add Search Server Express, it could be possible to search sites exclusively (Sy, 2008). This can also be fixed through MOSS which has an Enterprise Search capability (Sy, 2009).

Tools of the Trade

OOTB SharePoint gives the information manager content types. Using these tools can save time and money when cataloging documents in your organization's document library.

Content types can allow you to customize document properties to enable SharePoint's search feature to index important properties about the documents plus index all of the contents of uploaded documents. SharePoint's search engine pays close attention to properties of the documents, for example, title. To create an index for the search engine, SharePoint crawls to collect data.

Content types

Content types can be inherited from the main site. Whenever you create different site levels, your content types will follow you. Microsoft gives you 11 document content types that are programmed within site templates. For example, I had chosen to use the Knowledge base site template so Knowledge Base Article and Knowledge Base Document were incorporated.

My content types can define the physical layout of the documents or they can define specific subjects. When defining physical layouts of documents, I can create content types specific to the type of document that I am uploading. The following are examples of document types that would fit under the document content type:

Content types can also define subject areas. After reviewing the organization's taxonomy, I defined eight subject concentrations that the uploaded documents could be placed. The subject areas would allow documents to be cataloged under Dublin Core Columns. These columns are very specific to the properties of the document and would allow their layout to be defined in the description field. The following are the properties that Dublin Core Columns allowed me to capture about each document in a SharePoint document library:

I created eight subject content types (EDUCATION POLICIES; BOARD OF EDUCATION; SUPERINTENDENT; STRATEGY; DEVELOPMENT; ADMINISTRATION; ENROLLMENT; STUDENT EXPERIENCE) which allowed me to give the generic definition of each subject concentration in the description field. It also allowed me to break down the subject in the subject field and the keyword field.


Sy, D. (2009). SharePoint for Project Management. Cambridge: O'Reilly.

Sy, D. R. (2008, July 28). What is SharePoint? Retrieved March 12, 2010, from meetdux.com: http://sp.meetdux.com/archive/2008/07/28/what-is-sharepoint.aspx

Weldon, Lorette S.J. "Getting the Answers: One Consultant's Approach to Deciphering the Government", Special Libraries Association's Information Outlook, September 2005, p.33-34.

Weldon, L. (2010). SharePoint without Coding: My Notes for Embedding the Librarian. Amazon.com.

Weldon, L. (2011, February 15). SharePoint without Coding, Volume 2: My Notes on the Further Embedment of the Librarian. Amazon.com.