SharePoint Major/Minor Version Control & Content Approval

[In Part 4 of his series on Document Management and Collaboration in Microsoft SharePoint, Matt Milsark focuses on Major/Minor SharePoint Versioning and Content approval. Missed a post? Check out the previous article on SharePoint 2010 Version Control.]

SharePoint Logo Versioning Graphic

In the last post of this series, we looked at major versioning in SharePoint 2010. In this one, we’re going to look at including minor versioning, as well as the content approval process.

These features are useful if a document will go through several iterations before being published. For example, an employee handbook may have quite a few collaborators and editors. However, before being distributed or made available company-wide, an HR manager will need to approve its contents.

So let’s take a closer look at how Versioning and Content Approval would work in this scenario.

The first step is to configure the library:
1. Similar to before, navigate to the library and choose the Library tab.
2. Click Library Settings.
3. Under General Settings, click Versioning settings.
4. Under the Content Approval section, choose Yes.
5. Under the Document Version History section, choose Create major and minor (draft) versions.

Content approval and version history screen

6. Under the Draft Item Security section, choose Only users who can edit items. If you leave the default setting, then only the user who submits the document and the approver will be able to view the document while in draft mode. By setting it to Only users who can edit items, members of the team can edit the document, but those with read only access to the library will be unable to see the document until it is published.

7. Click OK. When you navigate back to the library, you’ll notice a new column, Approval Status, has automatically been added.
Screenshot: check approval status

So now when a member user uploads a document, it is automatically assigned Draft status.
Screenshot: Assigned draft status automatically

Notice that other users with edit rights can see the document (the user name in the upper right-hand corner indicates what default SharePoint group the user belongs to):
Screenshot: upper right-hand corner indicates what default SharePoint group the user belongs to

Whereas those with only read rights can’t see the document:
Screenshot: blank view because only read rights in SharePoint

So those with edit rights can continue editing the document without fear of someone viewing a draft copy. With every save a new minor version is created. After all the edits have been made the document needs approval from a user who has Approve Item permissions. To submit an item for approval, an editor simply has to:

  1. Navigate to the document library.
  2. Use the Edit drop-down for the item and choose Publish a Major Version.

Screenshot: select Publish a major version

The item is now placed in a pending status.
Screenshot: status updated to Pending

Now when a user with Approve Item permissions navigates to the document library, the Edit menu they see for the item is different.
Screenshot: Approve/Reject option in menu
They will be able to determine what documents need approval by the Pending Status. So the user could use the Approval Status column to filter for all items in Pending Status.
Screenshot: select Pending to filter items with pending status
Another way to provide a quick means of knowing items in Pending status is to simply create a document library view.

Not surprisingly, to approve or reject the item, the user would choose Approve/Reject. Upon doing so, the following is displayed:
Screenshot: Approve or Reject in SharePoint 2010
These options are all self-explanatory, so I’m just going approve this item.

Once the item has been approved, it is now visible by those who have read access to the library:
Screenshot: Approval status updated to Approved
As you can see, using SharePoint Content Approval is a good way to ensure the correct version of a document is available. Another typical use-case is legal contracts. Legal documents frequently demand several drafts before a final copy is executed.

Content approval will minimize the risk of someone obtaining a draft version of a legal document. This obviously is important, as it can be potentially catastrophic if the wrong document is disseminated.

The next article of this ongoing series will focus on SharePoint “Co-Authoring”. This is an exciting feature of SharePoint 2010 allowing multiple users to edit documents simultaneously. Stay tuned!

2012-04-22T05:28:32+00:00 April 22nd, 2012|


  1. Jordan March 11, 2013 at 11:51 am - Reply

    This is a great explanation! Although I find it stops a little short. Could you also elaborate on what happens after the approval request is sent? For example, is an approval request sent to specific users who have the approve/reject permission? Where can we change who is in the approval list?

    Thanks so much. I really value tutorials like this as a developer learning about SharePoint.

  2. April 20, 2013 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    “SharePoint Major/Minor Version Control & Content Approval” was indeed seriously entertaining and informative!
    In todays society that’s tricky to deliver. Thx, Laurel

  3. Kiyoon April 26, 2013 at 11:01 pm - Reply


    SharePoint Major/Minor Version Control…

  4. SharePoint Collaboration: Co-Authoring & Office Web Apps September 3, 2013 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    […] [In Part 5 of his series on Document Management and Collaboration in Microsoft SharePoint, Matt Milsark focuses on co-authoring and Office Web Apps with SharePoint. Missed a post? Check out the previous article on SharePoint Major/Minor Version Control & Content Approval.] […]

  5. […] it?  Well it just so happens we’ve already written a blog on the subject. Please read Part 4 of theDocument Management and Collaboration series written for the […]

  6. kraj July 22, 2014 at 11:58 am - Reply

    When we convert the minor version to a major version, does it overwrite the minor version history or still maintains the version?

  7. amay August 12, 2015 at 5:50 am - Reply

    In my sharepoint library i have set the version to “Create major and minor”.
    But when user checkin the file it asks for which vesrion, but here by default minor is selected.
    How can i make some settings so that major will be selected by default.

    I have created workflow also in this library which requires minor version on status change.

    Let me know if more information is required.

Leave A Comment