#Office365Challenge – Term Store Management in Office 365 Part 1 Terminology. The next couple of posts will be all about the Term Store in Office 365. As it is quite a broad subject and there are many considerations, we’ll start with what it is and the basic terminology. I’m definitely no expert on this subject and will be referencing many of the great articles Microsoft has already written about it. Keep in mind that the information is relevant whether on Office 365 (SharePoint Online) or SharePoint on-premises.

Day: 96 of 365, 269 left
Tools: SharePoint
Description: Term Store Management in Office 365 Part 1 Terminology


Let’s get back to the basics first. Metadata. These are properties that can be assigned to content / information. Think of your own documents. They have authors, file sizes, modified date etc. In my blog Around the Office in 365 Days: Day 91 – Column Settings in SharePoint I explained the type of columns you can add in SharePoint, as well as the settings / validations on them.
To assign categories or classification, the one used most is most probably the choice column. Again I’ll refer to my blog Around the Office in 365 Days: Day 92 – Reusable Metadata in SharePoint – Lookups where I explained the following:

  1. Single line of text – if you want to allow them to type whatever they want.
  2. Choice column – if you’ll never use that dropdown on another application or site again.
  3. Lookup – if you want to reuse it on the same site in different applications.
  4. Site Columns – if you want to reuse it on the same site and sub sites in different applications.
  5. Term Store – if you want to use it everywhere.

I’ll be using the “Department Column” to get my point across. If you have an Intranet with 20 Sub sites on which you’ve built 20 applications each. That’s 400 applications and each of these has a choice column for Department. No problem with that, but: now the company makes changes to their departments and a couple gets added as well. You will have to go to each of those applications’ settings and modify that column to now be the same. Choice columns are not consistent as they sit on the specific app and has no relation to other columns. Get how painful that could be?

When planning for categories (metadata) that will be used in more than one application, more than one site / department it would be wise to look at the Term Store. This allows you to manage the metadata in one central location, low effort to maintain and ‘reusability’ across your sites and applications.

I always say the only difference between BIG words and small words, is the font size. For years I struggled with the methodologies and terminologies out there, as I did not consider myself part of the “educated” group, who actually knew what those things meant. Took me some time though to realise that what I do everyday, the practical side of things, aligns with the methodologies, I just didn’t call it that. So I’ll try my best to explain these to you in laymen’s terms – as I understand them.


A category or property assigned to an item to give it more meaning and assist with classification / categorisation. It also assists with navigation to and search of content. This is nothing new, if you navigate to you Documents, Pictures, Music or Videos folder on your pc, you’ll see all those properties assigned already.

“A taxonomy is a formal classification system. A taxonomy groups the words, labels, and terms that describe something, and then arranges the groups into a hierarchy.”
Think of accounting, how we group certain accounts to categories, which then forms the bigger hierarchy of your accounting system – the general ledger, this allows you to form logical outputs = balance sheets / income statements / trial balances. Your company structure – departments / processes linked to them also forms a taxonomy.

The arrangement of ‘things’ and how they are connected to each other.

“A folksonomy is an informal classification system. It is evolves gradually as web site users collaborate on words, labels, and terms on a site. Originally, folksonomies developed from popular applications such as bookmarking. If you have ever seen a tag cloud on a website, then you have seen a visualization of a folksonomy. A folksonomy-based approach to metadata can be useful. It creates a way to share the knowledge and expertise of site users. By using a folksonomy, content classification can evolve together with changing business needs and user interests.”
As stated, this is informal, so not managed at a higher level by the company. Enterprise Keywords is a great way of allowing users to add to the Folksonomy of your site. Hashtags used on social media is a great example as well, it allows for anyone to create a new keyword, which can be used by many and groups “common pockets of interests” together. #Office365 #Office365Challenge

File Plan:
A file plan is a guideline that describes and documents the file locations, retention and archiving instructions, management of records as well as classification of documents. This normally goes hand in hand with the compliance regulations you might be following. This is part of your planning when it comes to your Term Store.

Term Sets & Terms:
Term Sets are the groupings used for Terms. Document Type could be the Term Set, where Policy, procedure, template etc. are the Terms.

A great article to go read for more information is Introduction to managed metadata Thanks Microsoft!

Now that we’ve covered most of the Terminology, we’re ready to start looking at the permissions needed for setting up Term Stores, which we’ll cover in tomorrow’s post.

Overview of my challenge: As an absolute lover of all things Microsoft, I’ve decided to undertake the challenge, of writing a blog every single day, for the next 365 days. Crazy, I know. And I’ll try my best, but if I cannot find something good to say about Office 365 and the Tools it includes for 365 days, I’m changing my profession. So let’s write this epic tale of “Around the Office in 365 Days”. My ode to Microsoft Office 365.

Keep in mind that these tips and tricks do not only apply to Office 365 – but where applicable, to the overall Microsoft Office Suite and SharePoint.