How to Configure Content Approval in SharePoint

By Ken Withee

SharePoint has a few ways to help you enact and enforce content governance policies to define what gets published and under what conditions, how many revisions are retained, and how they’re secured and tracked. Depending on the complexity of your approval process, you can use the standard content approval option, or you can create a more sophisticated — and custom — approval workflow.

Content approval is approval-light in SharePoint; it’s a publishing function that you turn on or off at the app level, and it has just a handful of configuration settings. Content approval — also called moderation — doesn’t include item routing or notifications, and it doesn’t facilitate reviews and commenting.

Content approval just ensures that drafts and new uploaded content don’t get published to your SharePoint app until someone with some authority says it’s okay. The content approval process controls who can see those documents until they’re approved.

Content approval also can specify whether items must be checked out before they can be edited. And content approval can hide draft documents from everyone except the item author and those users with approve permissions on the SharePoint app.

This is a subtle distinction, but specifying that only the item author and users with approve permissions can view items means that the author can check in an item without exposing it to the view of other readers or editors until it’s formally published and approved.