Last week we distributed our first SharePoint News digest! One of our project teams wants to keep their audience informed with a Newsletter, and we decided to give the standard SharePoint News option a try.
The process of creating and publishing a News article is pretty straightforward, but my Communications colleague had a ton of questions which were not always readily documented.
So here are a few real-life things that your Communications colleague may want to know:
1. You can add max. 110 characters in the title, but will they all be shown?
A different number of characters will be displayed in any of the other places where the article is shown:
- SharePoint homepage and News overview: 48
- SharePoint site, 2 side-by-side: 43
- SharePoint app: 59
- News Digest email: 110
Please note this is based on my screen with my test text. The “i” is a very thin letter and you will get more in the same space if you only use that one (for instance 100 on the SharePoint homepage and overview) the “m” and “w” are wide letters and you will get fewer in that space (for instance 27 on the SharePoint homepage and overview.) So…it all depends…on your title!
And then I am not even talking about the body text!
These things can drive you nuts if you are trying to provide guidance! 🙂
2. When you have no background image, the title is black. With a background image, even a light one, the title goes white.
Seriously, I would never notice these things but my colleague did! It is a tad annoying as I think black would provide more contrast in many cases.
3. You can unpublish an article.
This will keep the page in the Site Pages library, but will remove the article from any views. Deleting the page has the same effect, but the article will be gone, of course.
You can unpublish as follows: Go to the Site Pages library, hover over the article and click the 3 vertical dots. Click “More” from the popup and then “Unpublish”. You can publish it again.
Please note this is not available everywhere – it may have to do with the site/web part type. I could not find it in some older posts in different site types, for instance.
4. The Version tells you whether a News article is published or unpublished.
I have been looking all over the place to find how to see the difference between a published and an unpublished News article, and guess what? It is the Version, which has a x.0 for a published article and a x.1 for an unpublished article.
Thank you, Susan Hanley!
5. You can remove the name of the author from the News Article but it will be displayed everywhere else.
Not very useful. There is already a User Voice entry out there, asking for a wider effect of removal of authors. In this case my Communication colleague helped the project team out with their first efforts, but she did not want to appear as the author.
6. News articles are sorted on First Published date and show the Created By OR the name in the header as the author.
It makes no difference for the order of appearance if you change the article after a few days. It does not suddenly show on top.
It also does not matter who modified the article as the Created By stays the same.
However, Marc Anderson comes to the rescue here. If you change the name in the header of the news article, that name will be shown.
The order of appearance/moving for the side-by-side webpart is top left > top right > bottom left > bottom right > off page.
(WordPress, I would appreciate an “insert table” option!)
7. You can change the order of appearance on the News web part manually.
This is a bit tricky as the items stick there and no new items will be shown if you pin 4 of them onto this page. But it may be useful if you want to keep one important News article visible for some time.
Edit the page and click “Edit webpart” next to the News web part. Scroll down in the menu on the right-hand side and click on “Select news to organize”.
Drag and drop the News Article(s) you want to keep in the same place, to the desired place(s) and click the x top right. Remember to remove it when needed, as it will stay there otherwise. And please note that this order goes for this web part only!
8 a. Every News article is a site page and lives in the Site Pages library.
In my organization we use SharePoint sites mainly for document management (well, until I came along 🙂 ). Every site has a homepage and that’s it. So working with the Site Pages library was a new thing for my colleagues.
Unfortunately all News article pages live in the same Site Pages library, including your site’s homepage and any other page not related to News. Make sure you do not accidentally delete those while cleaning up old News articles.
8 b. A News digest (Newsletter) is another page in that Site Pages library.
If you create a News digest, you create another page in that library. That makes it easy to make it available for everyone who is not in the distribution list for your News digest, but it can make it difficult to know what is what.
Microsoft suggests to add the date to the title, to identify it better. But…
9. There IS a way to know if a certain page is a News article or another page.
It is not very intuitive however. A big applause to Elio Struyf who figured this out first, as far as I know.
In your Site Pages library, click on “Add Column” and then “Show/hide columns” at the bottom of the popup.
Then select the “Promoted State” column to add to the view. Be aware that this column is only available on the page itself; NOT via the Library Settings. (trust me, I tried 🙂 ) And also remember to click “Apply”!
Please note that the default view (Grouped by Author) does not keep the column for one reason or another, so if you edit the view or log out it disappears. If you really want to make it “stick”, use it in a non-grouped view. Here’s an interesting thread about this topic.
10. All images that you upload will be added to the Site Assets library.
You will get a folder for Site Pages and then one folder per page.
In most cases you will end up with one folder per page with one image. What a waste of folders and clicks!
11. Images should ideally be 16:9 with a good focal point that is not too close to the edges.
Another “vague” specification that is a big change from the “images should be square, in .jpg or .gif format, max. 1600 pixels wide and max. 2 GB in size” spec that we used to work with before Modern SharePoint came along. In real life it means that you generally get a decent result without being able to predict it. Keep in mind that the header image is wide and low, but in other places the images are displayed as a “normal landscape image”‘.
A deep bow for two ladies who have figured out picture behaviour extensively, so you do not have to:
Beth Hall: How SharePoint handles images.
It is a long and thorough post, and a little bit beyond me at times, but my Communications colleague, who is an expert photographer and editor, understood it very well.
Tracy van der Schyff: Creating banners for your online SharePoint pages.
12. If you delete a News article, the associated folder and images will stay in the Site Assets library.
Not sure if this is a good or a bad thing, but just so you are aware!
13. Changing the title of the News article after publication will not change the URL, the name of the Site page or the name of the image folder.
So this means links will keep working, which is good. On the other hand, you will lose track of that new title once the item has disappeared from the overviews and from the mind.
14. The News web part is not very stable.
When I was creating screenshots for item 7, I kept getting an empty web part when returning from the web part menu. Reverting to an earlier version helped now and then, but as soon as I hit the “Edit” or “Select news to organize” buttons, an empty page glared at me. I removed the web part and added it again, which helped, but it may be wise to not touch it too often! Microsoft help for the News web part.
15. I am sure something will come up!
It is always wise to keep one option open to avoid having to change the title 🙂
I really enjoyed this project with my Communications colleague and the project manager. I appreciated their inquisitiveness and it was fun to research all their questions, find new blogs and support pages, see User Voice items, etc.
And…creating the News digest also generated some questions and insights. That will be my next blog as this one is quite long already!
Please let me know if you have found item 15!
Image by kconcha at pixabay.com