SharePoint Tips #1 – Document Library folders

When using document libraries in SharePoint try to avoid the temptation of creating nested folders.  There are several reasons you do not want ot create folders more than one level deep if you need to create them at all.

  1. You are just recreating the problem you had in file severs when you created nested folders
  2. You can not apply security to a folder in SharePoint
  3. You can not add a folder by itself to a web page in a web part so personalization is difficult

Instead of creating folders in Document Libraries create a seperate document library, this allows users to consume the content most important to them and you have more control over security and other features such as custom views.

Q: When should you use folders?

A: Archiving documents – maybe you archive all documents for a year in the 2004 folder or if you have a lot of documents being added like meeting minutes maybe you add a folder for the month and archive all the meeting minute documents for a given month.

Note: A single level of folder structure is generally ok when you really do not desire to create a seperate document library for one reason or another however avoid going 2 and 3 levels deep (keep in mind these are just guidelines).

Q: How do I keep related document libraries together on a single page?

A: Create a web part page and add all of the document libraries to that web part page.  An example would be multiple document libraries for a given project, you would create a web part page called ‘My Project Documents’.  Then you could take your Design, Models, Requirements, User documentation document libraries and store on the new web part page you just created.

Hope this helps…

Edward J. Ferorn

Comments (11)

  1. Point2Share says:

    Interesting discussions (Mart Muller) here and (Edward Ferron) here about SharePoint Document Libraries,…

  2. Bob Mixon says:


    I like it and agree. One other problem with nested folders is the URL length. I have had users who want to add a link to a set of documents within a set nested folders but the URL length exceeded 255, the maximum for a Links Web Part!

    Bob Mixon

  3. Bob Mixon says:


    I have posted this article in the SharePoint Wiki for others to learn from! 🙂

    Bob Mixon

  4. esmemau says:


    Do you see folders as a necessity when storing large quantities of documents? Let’s say you have 10,000 documents of the same type and with the same metadata that you want to store in a library. Isn’t this a scenario where you would justify folders given the 2000 files per level suggestion by Msft? I’m currently working on a process that pushes files to SharePoint. Instead of a creating multiple document libraries with the same metadata structure, I’m leveraging folders to ensure that we do not violate the 2000 documents/level suggestion.



  5. C Alcorn says:

    I think there may be a problem with the recommended solution of using a combination of Web Part pages with Document Library Pages to create a structure to mimic nested folders. Doesn’t the proposed solution only work with an even number of levels? I don’t believe it will work if the structure I need is:

    My Project Documents (web part page)

    – Requirements (document library)

    – Tech Requirements (web part page)

    – various pdf, word, etc. files

    – Business Requirements (web part page)

    – various pdf, word, etc. files

    – Documentation (document library)

    – Tech Documentation (web part page)

    – various pdf, word, etc. files

    Only web part pages can contain document libraries and only document libraries can contain documents. Because a web part page cannot hold documents, the structure outlined in the above example cannot be accomplished.

    Am I mis-understanding something? I am new to WSS and I am trying to design a nested structure for managing shared documents with user security at each level so I want to do it correctly.


  6. Sorry I ahve not been responding to the comments but here goes…


    I do not think SharePoint v2 is the right solution for this given scenario (these are just my thoughts, your sales team or other MCS resources may have different thoughts on this).

    C Alcorn:

    I am not sure I understand your question. It sounds like you are validating my thoughts, maybe I am reading this wrong. I am not suggesting even you mimic any thing nested (especially more than 2 levels deep). I am suggesting in most cases you flatten your structure and organize the structure using some type of view like a web part page. I still feel like I am missing something in your question, help me understand what I am issing here.


  7. C. Alcorn says:

    I re-read your post and others and also did some experimenting and now I better understand your thoughts on avoiding folder nesting and the other options that are possible. My originial question was invalid. Sorry for any confusion I caused.