Combining SharePoint News from different sites

Sharing News posts from different sites in your site can help you create a good News experience for your audience, as you can share other people’s News without having to publish it yourself. It will also help other publishers by increasing their audience.

We used this extensively in my last role. Communications picked up interesting News posts from other parts in the organization to share that on the intranet Homepage. Reversely, local News publishers sometimes added corporate News posts to their own News.

It is easy to do but there are some things you may want to know.

1. There are three ways to add news posts from other sites to your News

a. One-time only: use the Add News Link

This way you will add one post to your News feed. The item will be displayed on the News web part as if it has been published in your site, it will have the name of your site on top of it.
This link will create a new page in your Site Pages Library, but upon clicking the title or image from the News web part, you will be taken to the original post in the original site. So, you are NOT making a copy, just a reference.

How to do this:

Go to the News web part, click New and select “News link” instead of News post

Screenshot of SharePoint site Homepage with the option to add a News Link.
How to add a link to another News post – use the highlighted option

Enter the link to the News post in the popup. The popup will automatically populate with image, title and description from the News post. You can adjust this where needed. Click “Post” at the bottom of the popup to publish.

You will see the current Page Details and can adjust them when needed.

After you click Post, the post will be added to your News web part as if it has been created by yourself.

Screenshot of SharePoint page with News web part after adding a News link to another news post.
The linked post is added like a regular News item

In the Site Pages Library, a new page will be added that contains only the Page Details, but not the complete item. That still lives in the original site.

Screenshot of page created in the Site Pages Library with just the Page Details.
In the Site Pages library you will get a new page with just the Page Details.

You can imagine that this works well for the occasional post that you want to add. Keep in mind that, when the original publisher deletes the post, your linked news item will give an error message. You may want to check out my post “SharePoint Holmes and the Missing Message” for the details.

TIP: This is a good way to republish an older post from your site. By adding the News Link it will show up as a new item, on top of the feed. This is much easier than fixing the position in the web part which is rather cumbersome.

b. Permanent: Add one or more News sources

In the News web part, by default the News from “this site” will show, but you can select other sites to show their News.

Go to the page with the News web part and click the Edit button. In the web part settings, you can choose “Select sites” and then check the sites you want to add to your News web part. Generally the sites you use frequently will be visible, but you can also search for them.

When you have selected the site you will immediately see their News mingled with your own, depending on Publish date.

Screenshot of how you select the sites that will be part of your News web part.
Upon selecting the sites you will see their News posts mixed with your own. They will have the name of their original site on top.

Unlike the “News Link” options, posts will show the name of their original site above the title, and no reference page will be created in your Site Pages Library.

Screenshot of the News of the Intranet site homepage, with News of two other sites added as other sources.
This is the News feed of the Intranet site and two others

c. Permanent: all sites in the Hub

In case you have a number of sites that belong together, e.g. together they form the Intranet or the global HR information, you can create a Hub site to bring them all together with navigation, design, search, News etc.
Gregory Zelfond has a good explanation in this post, so please give that a read if Hubs are new to you: How to create Hub sites in SharePoint online.

In this case, I have turned the Intranet site into a Hub site and associated 2 other sites with it. You see that each News post has the name of the site where it lives, on top. Again, no reference page is created.
(By the way, you also see that the post I used in my earlier blog now has lost its image, a clear sign that something is wrong!)

Screenshot of how to show the News of all sites from the Hub.
When you have created a Hub site and associated sites with the Hub, you will get the option to include all Hub sites in the News web part.

Screenshot of SharePoint news web part, with News from the 3 sites that are in the Hub.
You see the most recent News from the three sites that are part of the Hub.

2. You can add Team sites to the mix

All three options above can be done with both Team sites and Communication sites. In the screenshot below, I added a Team site to the Hub and the News post I created is incorporated.

Screenshot of SharePoint news web part, including a News post from a Team site.
Top left is the latest News post from a Team Site, that I associated with the Hub.

3. Mind permissions!

Make sure that any posts or sites that you include in your News web part or News Digest, is accessible for your audience. You may want to check with the site owners about the site’s permissions.

This is especially the case with Team sites which are likely to have more strict permissions than an organization-wide Communication site. Team sites may contain updates from important projects, that you may want to share, but make sure everyone can read them, otherwise you will have to create your own post.

4. You can create a digest from combined News

Regardless of where the News lives, you can turn all News posts that are in your web part into a News digest. In the screenshot below I left out the ERP item, where the original has been deleted, but you see that all others can be included in the News digest. But…please verify that everyone has access to all sites! (see 3.)

Screenshot of the News Digest creation page - all articles in your site can be included in your Digest.
All posts in your site can be included in your News Digest

5. You can add a News web part to more pages than one

You will most likely have the News web part on the Home page of your site, and you want that to be as interesting as possible.
But you can create as many News web parts in your site as you want or need, and configure them separately using option 1b. This allows you to keep track of other posts and pick out any interesting ones.

EXAMPLE 1: Suppose you are a multi-national organization, and each country has a News site for that country. You can create an extra (hidden) page with a Web part, select all the country sites as your Source, so you can keep track of what is going on in each country. You can then use the info from that web part to add News to your own site, or send a News Digest about what is happening in the various countries.
EXAMPLE 2: You can combine the News of different Project sites to keep track of their News (assuming you have permissions) and then make a selection as a Project Update digest.

These are just examples to give you an idea about “keeping track of News” without having to add it to your Homepage.

Below you will see a screenshot of how I added an extra page in the Intranet site, where I added News from two completely different sites than used earlier.

Screenshot of a different page in the Intranet site, with a News page that uses completely different sites than the News source.
A new page in the Intranet site with completely different News items. This can come in useful to keep track of other News.

Do you have any tips or experiences to add about Combining News? Please let me know!

SharePoint Holmes and the Missing Message

SharePoint News is easy to create and manage, but that does not mean things can not “go wrong”. This is often due to unexpected or unknown behaviour. So, you can imagine that our hero SharePoint Holmes likes the functionality! 😁

The situation

I received an issue in our support system from a News reader who saw an interesting News post on a SharePoint site. However, when he clicked on it, he got an error message. He had refreshed the page, closed SharePoint and reopened, and even logged out and back in, but he could not open it.  
(What a model employee, by the way, doing the most obvious troubleshooting actions before logging an issue. I have seen many people get into a complete panic when they get an error message, while a simple “did you turn it off and on again” could have solved the problem)

But how could that be? He saw the item, it had recently been posted in the site! 

An obvious case for SharePoint Holmes. I grabbed my problem-solving cap and set to work.

The investigation

I logged in as admin into the site and checked his permissions. This was a site accessible for all employees. Good.

Then I looked with him at the site’s homepage. The red-lined item was the problem post.

Screenshot of SharePoint site home page, with News posts. It all looks good, but there is one News post that gives an error upon clicking.
The site in question. Everything looks normal, but the red-lined post gives an error message.

When he clicked the post, this was the error message. Do you see what SharePoint Holmes sees?

Screenshot from Error message saying:
"Hmmm… can't reach this pageIt looks like the webpage at https://ellenvanaken.sharepoint.com/sites/Communicationsite/SitePages/Changes-in-the-ERP-system.aspx might be having issues or it may have moved permanently to a new web address.
ERR_INVALID_RESPONSE"
This is the error message.

Right, the site above says “Intranet” while the error message refers to a link in “Communicationsite”.

I got the same error message upon clicking the News post, (confirming once more this was NOT a permissions issue), and checked the URL of the site where the item had been posted. There was “Intranet” in the URL of the site with the issue, but the error message was for an item in a “Communicationsite”.

πŸ’‘ Aha, this looked like a News post that had been created with the “News Link” option. This is an easy way to share News from one site to another. Instead of creating your own post, you can click on Add > News Link and add the URL in a popup. SharePoint will then add thumbnail, title and description, and you can keep that as is, or edit when needed. When someone clicks on the post, they will be redirected to the post in the site where it was created, in this case the “Communicationsite”.

Screenshot from SharePoint site with News web part showing what happens when you click the Add  button under News. You will get two options: News post (to create a news item from scratch) or News Link (to link to another news post in SharePoint or internet)
An easy way to share News from other sites or even the internet

First I checked whether my hypothesis was correct. I opened the Site Pages Library in the Intranet site and looked for the post. When I opened it it looked indeed like a “News Link” page: a page with the link and the Page Details, nothing more.
πŸ’‘ Normally the image from the Source site would also be shown, but in this case it was missing, and this was a reason to suspect that the original News post had been deleted.

Screenshot of the page that you get when you add a Link to a News Post. In this case there is no image, which is a clue for SharePoint Holmes.
This is what you get when you add News as a link to another site (or the internet). Normally you would also see the image, but this time it is empty, another clue.

I then opened the “Communicationsite” and checked the Site Pages Library (just to be on the safe side) and when I could not see the post, I went to the Recycle Bin. And yes, there it was.

Screenshot of the Recycle Bin of the site where the News item was posted
The News post from the link has been deleted in the site where it has been posted. Links to this post will now be inaccessible.

I contacted the person who had deleted the News post and enquired about the deletion. It turned out that the deletion was done accidentally in haste, and only a short time ago, as the image was still visible. (After a few days, the image will disappear as it is no longer stored in a Site Assets Library)

The solution

In this case, the “deleter” restored the post in the Communication site and that action restored access to the News post in the Intranet site.

Of course, it will not always be as straightforward. Sometimes it can be necessary to delete a post because it is outdated and potentially harmful to keep.

It may make sense to agree on a form of Life Cycle Management for News posts within your organization, and only delete something when a post is older than 1 year, for instance, if it does not need to be deleted earlier. You may want to read “Writing SharePoint News posts – our way” for more agreements you can make with your fellow News publishers.

As News Publishers will not be able to see easily where their News items are being shared, you will never be able to completely prevent issues like the above. But it will help to inform your News Publishers about this potential issue when using the “News Link” option.

Tip: you can check if your News post has been used in another site as follows:

  • Copy the title of the post and enter this in the Microsoft365 homepage Search box (so you search all through Microsoft365)
  • Alternatively, use some keywords from the title that are less common
  • Click the News tab in the Search results
  • Check if there are more entries than yours
  • If you want to delete the item you may want to warn the Publishers who have added your News post to their site.

This will not really help if someone has posted it to a restricted site that you have no access to, or when they have changed the title, but it is an option to reduce any “damage”.

Screenshot of two News posts with the same name, indicating that one is a link to another. The News Search vertical will help filter out the News posts.
Another News post that has been added as News Link: two posts with the same name in Search, in different sites.

About SharePoint Holmes:
Part of my role was solving user issues. Sometimes they are so common that I had a standard response, but sometimes I needed to do some sleuthing to understand and solve it.
As many of my readers are in a similar position, I thought I’d introduce SharePoint Holmes, SharePoint investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud.

Colourful intranet videos in a grey time of year

As this time of year is grey and boring, in any case in my Northern part of the world, I thought I’d brighten things up with some extravagant intranet promotion videos, where the design appears to be more important than the content. 😁

You can find them all by searching on “z-ott” (which is my code for Over The Top) in my collection but I have made a selection in this post.

Screenshot of the tags and search part of my video collection.
You can look for the tag “z-ott” in the filter, but it is easier to search for it.

Make sure to log in to Vimeo so you can see the ones that are “not rated yet” as well! More on this phenomenon in a later post.

1. The Cube, from Singapore government

This video is 10 years old but has not aged a bit. The quest through the jungle and the old cellar is still a nice metaphor for finding information within a large organization. They need an intranet!

There is another, related, video from this organization in my collection.

2. Velux One, from a manufacturer of special windows

There were a number of similar videos around some 7 years ago, but only this one and the one from a British insurance company have survived on public media. (But please let me know if I am mistaken)

They all feature a rather hysterical voice-over, cats, a saurus of some kind, and lots of funny statistics.

3. The Loop, from a healthcare organization

The birth of a new intranet, taken literally!

4. Leroy Merlin, European DIY retailer

It is a bit long, but very interesting. It is a video game between a regular person and someone with “intranet glasses”. I have never seen this for a real intranet, it would be interesting though if you could see the serial number or available stock on screen while you walk the store. Is someone working on this?

5. Fred, from a German producer of medical products and medicines.

There is a LOT going on in this delightful teaser video. There’s Roy Liechtenstein, Andy Warhol, Superman, other references to comics, accompanied by American jazz age background music. The video is available in English, German, French and Spanish.

In my collection you will also find another one from this company, with even more arts & culture!

This is only a selection so please make sure you watch all of them!

Photo of video camera by Max Bender on Unsplash

SharePoint Holmes and the Lost Link (to the News digest)

Another occasion where SharePoint Holmes saved the day.

The situation

“I need to send out a News digest today for my colleague and she showed me how to do it, but it does not work for me” I heard on the other side of the Teams call. “It is our Christmas Newsletter and my colleague is already out for the holidays”.

Of course one calls the support desk rather than another colleague when this happens 😊. And as I was quite busy in the end-of-year period, I thought I’d call in SharePoint Holmes. Usually this was a quiet time for him and I expected that an interaction was welcome. Especially a “it does not work for me” as that can be really anything. So on went my sleuthing hat!

The investigation

We shared screens. She opened the site where the News was published, and showed me the items that needed to go into the Christmas digest.

I noticed there was a “See All” link top right, so apparently the web part was configured correctly, and more than 5 items were published. That was not the problem.

Screenshot of a SharePoint News web part, displaying news posts.
The News web part that is the source for the news digest . There is a “See All” link top right.

She clicked on “See All” and the next page opened.

Hmmm, there were no “Manage Posts” and “Email a News digest” links. A page refresh did not help. That was strange.

Screenshot of SharePoint page where you normally create a news digest from. The link to do that is missing.
The page where you normally see “Manage posts” and “Email a news digest”. But not here.

I looked at one of my own sites and compared it to hers.
I asked her to go back to the Homepage. There were no options to add News or something else. (as in the first screenshot in this post)
I asked her to click on the Gear Wheel. That showed only a very small menu.

Screenshot of the Site Settings for this person. Only two menu items, so this person has very limited permissions on this site and can therefore not create a News digest.
The site settings only has a few options. I expect this person is a Visitor and has too few permissions.

Ah, I got it. Permissions!

The solution

In my admin role, I checked permissions for the site in question. And as I expected, she was a Site Visitor, not a member.

You can only create a News digest when you have permissions to add a new Page to the Site Pages library, and add images to the Assets library. It is in the Microsoft support, by the way, but I only learned that later.

Due to the absence of any other Site Owners, I made her a Member and sent a note to the Site Owner that I had given her more permissions in order to create a News digest. I hoped the Site Owner would remember that for next time…
I stayed in the meeting and looked while she created the News Digest. After a page refresh the permissions were OK and she knew what to do.

SharePoint Holmes saved Christmas! 🌲😁

Happy holidays for all my blog readers. All the best for 2023!

About SharePoint Holmes:
Part of my role was solving user issues. Sometimes they are so common that I had a standard response, but sometimes I needed to do some sleuthing to understand and solve it.
As many of my readers are in a similar position, I thought I’d introduce SharePoint Holmes, SharePoint investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud.

Why does my SharePoint News digest not reach my colleagues?

Since a few weeks I am also on Mastodon (@ellenvanaken@mastodon.social) and there I happened upon this question from @almostwitty:

“Does anyone know how to manage the SharePoint “News you might have missed” feature? Some people aren’t getting them and I have no idea why…”

I thought that was a great question, so I started investigating, including the regular News Digest option as well, since issues can occur there too.
I focused on technical/functional reasons, reading “not getting them” as “not receiving them in their mailbox” rather than not understanding what they are about. (But there’s an explanation on how it works from Microsoft in this post as well!)

There are three levels where email newsletters can go wrong: organizational (because of settings or email issues), sender or recipient issues or actions.
In the case of organizational issues, most likely the whole organization, or a specific part of it (e.g. a specific email domain or location), will not have receive the digest.
In case of individuals who have not received it, the issue is harder to identify and solve.

A. Regular News Digest

This is a newsletter with a hand-picked selection of news, sent by a site owner (sender) to an email list or group of colleagues (recipients). You may want to check my earlier post “10 things to know about the SharePoint News digest”
Always think carefully before you decide to send a News digest – not everyone likes to receive “even more stuff to read” from their organization!

In the following cases someone or more people may not receive it:

1. Organization: There has been an email glitch in your organizations Outlook/Exchange

Check with your Microsoft365 admins if this is the case. The glitch can affect all your organization, or parts of it, e.g. with a different email address.

2. Sender: You have exceeded the Outlook sending limitations

Check the sending limitations here. E.g. you have sent your newsletter to more than 500 people, of you have sent too many emails in one day. The limits appear to be lower for people who have been in the organization shortly and have no reliable reputation yet.
Solutions may be to send the newsletter in smaller batches, to use organization-wide groups instead of individuals (any group that is in your Company Directory), or to send the newsletter from a different email address. (e.g. a department mailbox rather than your personal email)

3. Sender: you have more than 256 characters in your subject line

See all Exchange Online limitations (link below) under “Messaging limitations”.
A more complete, but more complicated overview of all Exchange Online limits here.

Please create a shorter subject line.

4. Sender: your digest mail is seen as Junk Mail

This has happened to me when I first sent some digests, because I sent it to a lot of people who had never had any interaction with me.

Please inform colleagues that you are starting an email newsletter, monitor delivery of your first digest, train your colleagues how to add senders of in-company newsletters to their safe senders and ask them to check their Junk Email folder on a regular basis.
It can also help to send the digest not from your personal email, but from an organizational account, e.g. Communications, or Department XYZ.

5. Recipient: Has deliberately blocked your email address, reported earlier newsletters as Junk and/or has set a Rule to send your mails to the Deleted Items

While option 4 is more or less an accident, this one is a deliberate action. There is no “Unsubscribe” option for SharePoint News digests, so every employee who is not happy to receive and read your mail will find ways to avoid it. Your digest will probably be in their Junk Email or Deleted Items.

It may be good to inform colleagues about the benefits of the News digests. Additionally you could train them how to add senders of in-company newsletters to their safe senders and to to check their Junk Email folder on a regular basis.

6. Recipient has accidentally deleted or archived the mail

Sometimes I do that too – I delete something by simply pressing the wrong button, swiping the wrong way, etc. Sometimes it is because I am interrupted while reading email, sometimes I decide too fast that this is not interesting, it can be anything really, and nothing personal! 😊

The email may be in the Deleted Items or in the Archive.

7. Recipient’s mailbox is full

Especially when your organization has many F3-licenses, it may happen that their mailbox (only 2 GB) is full and can no longer receive emails, even though the News digest is a small email in size. Check out the Quirks of the F3 license.

There’s not much you can do there. The recipient will have received one or more warnings to clean up their mailbox.

B. News you might have missed:

This is an automated digest of items that you have access to, may be relevant for you (according to the Microsoft Graph) but have not read yet. More info from Microsoft.

In this case, there are only organizational or recipient issues. People may not receive this for the following reasons:

8. Organization: it has been disabled on organizational level

Microsoft provides information on how to do that. You may want to discuss with the Microsoft365 admins (and others involved) to turn it on again, because there may have been a good reason to disable the functionality.

9. Organization: There has been an email glitch in your organizations Outlook/Exchange

(Similar to 1.) Check with your Microsoft365 admins if this is the case. The glitch can affect all your organization, or parts of it, e.g. with a different email address.

10. Recipient: There is no news that they have missed

They may have read all there is to read. That may be because they have been a colleague for only a short time and does not have access to many sites yet.

11. Recipients have turned off their subscription in the email or on their SharePoint page

This is ON by default. At the bottom of the email there is a link called “Notification settings” that takes you to a page in the SharePoint homepage where you can disable this digest.

Screenshot of the bottom of the "News you may have missed" email, with the link to change your notification settings.
You can disable this automated digest here.

You can also do this from the SharePoint home page by clicking the gear wheel > Email notification settings.

Screenshot of the SharePoint landing page and the menu under the gear wheel. With "Email notification settings" you can turn the digest off.
On the SharePoint landing page you can also turn off this digest.

In both cases, you will go to the below page where you can toggle off the button at the bottom.

Screenshot of the Notification settings page where you can determine if you want to receive "News you might have missed" or not.
If you do not want to receive “News you might have missed” you can set this button to “Off”

12. Recipient: Has deliberately blocked noreply@sharepointonline.com, reported earlier digests as Junk and/or has set a Rule to send mails from this sender to the Deleted Items

(Similar to 5.) This is a deliberate action. The digest will probably be in their Junk Email or Deleted Items.

You may want to inform users that blocking noreply@sharepointonline.com is not a good idea, as they will also not receive other mails about their SharePoint sites and documents. (e.g. auto-deletion of Teams recordings) Creating awareness about this email may be good idea, as is teaching them how to disable the “News you might have missed” email instead, as explained in 11, if they really do not want it.

13. Recipient has accidentally deleted or archived the mail

(Similar to 6.)

The email may be in the Deleted Items or in the Archive. Again, creating awareness about this email may be a good idea, and you may also want to teach them how to disable it properly if they do not want to receive it.

14. Recipient’s mailbox is full

(Similar to 7). The mailbox of F3-licensed users (only 2 GB) may be full and can no longer receive emails, even though this is a small email in size. Check out the Quirks of the F3 license.

There’s not much you can do there. The recipient will have received one or more warnings to clean up their mailbox.

Conclusion

There are many reasons why someone does not receive a SharePoint News digest or a “News you might have missed” digest. The reasons can be on organization, sender and recipient level, and may be deliberate or accidental. That makes it hard to troubleshoot, but I hope I given you a few ideas to start with. Good luck!

Please let me know if I have forgotten any!

10 more things to know about creating SharePoint News

Decorative image - a self-created concoction of the SharePoint logo, a Newspaper icon and the number 10.

Some time ago I wrote a post: 15 things to know about creating SharePoint News

By now it is 16 things, because posts with numbers are cursed, as my fellow bloggers will know 😁

In the mean time I have learned a few more things, so it is time for an update.

1. The news publishers in your organization may appreciate guidelines

With all the options SharePoint has to offer, in web parts, columns, fonts and font colours, you may want to provide your News publishers with a few writing and design guidelines. This will help create some consistency across your intranet.
I have shared my last organization’s guidelines in an earlier post: Writing SharePoint news posts (our way). This post was pretty popular so I guess it fills a need.

2. Be aware of when to use which image source

I have tried every option and made an overview in this post: Images in SharePoint news and pages.

In short:

  • Using an image from Web Search and Upload will create a new folder and file in your Site Assets library. All other options do not.
  • You have most control using Upload or Site, as you will know where the image is stored and you will be able to re-use it easily
  • Stock Images and Organizational Assets are the best options when you care about respecting intellectual property, assuming someone is in charge of maintenance of Organizational Assets

3. In some cases the header image is not visible

I have written about troubleshooting images. These are a few common causes:

  • The “Plain” page template (no image) is used
  • Readers have no permission to view the picture, for instance because it lives in someone’s OneDrive
  • The image has been moved or deleted
  • On Yammer, in some cases when the post has been promoted to Yammer – see point 4.
Screenshot of SharePoint news web parts with a post with header image that was deleted, and a post in Plain template, with no header image by default.
Example of a News web part with a news post with a deleted header image (top) and one using a Plain template (with no header image)

4. Promoting a post to Yammer may not show it as nice as you expect

How your News post looks on Yammer is depending on

5. The Description field can be used for several purposes

The Description is a field that you can find in the Page Details. It is easily overlooked, and you do not have to use it, but it can be quite powerful.

  • Create a summary of your post. This will be displayed under the title of the post and will show your readers quickly what the post is about. You will have to make an effort, as by default the first part of the body text will be displayed.
    The Description will also be shown in the Newsletter and in Search results.
  • Hide key words that will be used in Search results. It is best if you add these keywords as far to the bottom of the description as possible, to avoid it showing up in the news overviews.

Read more about it: 7 things to know about the Description field (by now it is 8…sigh 😊)

Screenshot of two examples of a SharePoint News post: one with the default Description (= the first part of the body text), one with a short summary of the post, which shows you quickly what the post is about.
Example of a summary: To the left, a custom summary of the post. To the right: The default description: the first paragraph which trails off.

6. You can add a publication date on the post or page itself

The publication date of a News article will be visible on the News web part, (if you have that enabled), but when you open a News post you do not see the publishing date. You may want to add the date from the web part settings in the header (1), then toggle on the “show published date” button (2) and then the date will be shown underneath the title and author (3). I have not found a way to enable this by default. Please let me know if there is an easy way to make this the standard.
Adding the publication date is a good practice for intranet pages with a longer lifespan.

Screenshot of SharePoint news post in the making, with the option to add the Published date to the post itself, underneath title and author.
The web part settings is where you can make the publication date visible. By default it is off, unfortunately.
Screenshot of SharePoint news page with the News web part. The publication date is shown, but this date is by default not replicated on the news article itself.
You can show the publication date in the News web part, as shown here, but this does not show on the News post by default.
Screenshot of SharePoint News article, published, with the publication date underneath title and author. This is useful for both news and intranet pages.
This is the publication date on the published post.

7. You can manage comments on your posts and pages

Your readers can respond to posts by clicking the Like button or adding a comment. Notifications will be sent via email to you. If this gets a little overwhelming or distracting, my post 4 ways to manage comments on SharePoint news or pages may help you.

8. If you are publishing “on behalf of” an Author, here’s some ways to redirect comments to them

By default, Likes and Comments are sent to the person who has published the post. There is no standard option to redirect them to the person who is the intellectual owner (as opposed to the publisher) of the post.
I have come up with a few workarounds in this post: Diverting SharePoint news comments to the Author.

9. In some cases you will NOT see “See All” on the News web part

Sometimes the “See all” link, which you will need to see more news items and in order to create a Newsletter, is not visible:

  • When you have less than 5 published News posts
  • When you use the Hub News display
  • When you have hidden the “Title and Commands” in the web part settings.

You can read more about it in my post SharePoint Holmes and the Disappearing Digest link.

Screenshot of SharePoint news web part settings, where you can toggle off the "Show title and command" bar. This will take away the word News, but also some other useful things.
If you toggle the “Show title and commands” off, the items News, See all and Add in the top bar will not be visible on the page.

10. The Carousel display still has usability limitations

Even Microsoft, who are big on inclusive design, have not managed to come up with a good Carousel. It also does not display any indication of the content of the article apart from the title. You can read my rant in this post: Can you get a text preview in a SharePoint News Carousel?

Screenshot of a SharePoint news Carousel.
An example of a Carousel.

As SharePoint is evolving, we keep finding out more and more things about it, so please stay tuned and keep asking me questions, so SharePoint Holmes and I can investigate!

Number “10” by publicdomainpictures.net

Can you get a text preview in a SharePoint News Carousel?

I recently got the following question: “Is it possible to get a text preview from News in a Carousel? This would be for those users who want to see more than just the title, but without clicking.”

I love this type of questions, so I decided to find out.

Carousels and me

I am not a big fan of Carousels. I can imagine the large images look nice, but I have read too many negatives. The quick why? This website: https://shouldiuseacarousel.com/

They do not provide good usability, for instance:

  • People tend to overlook them.
  • Most people do not spend enough time on a page to see all the items in the Carousel, so generally only 1 or 2 posts are being seen by most visitors.
  • The buttons to move them forward are too small and not easily clickable for people who have problems with their motoric skills.
  • Screenreaders cannot deal with them.

At the bottom of this post I have added a number of articles.

When Microsoft introduced a Carousel for SharePoint News, I honestly thought that they had solved the issue because why would they, who are pretty big on usability and accessibility, introduce functionality that would not have a good usability? But when I saw the product, I noticed that it just looked like all others. I could not find a usability review by anyone. (Please let me know if you know one).

BTW, I really love the below image (from Microsoft’s Inclusive Design pages) to show that inclusivity issues are more common than you might think. Not everyone has a permanent issue, but many people have temporary or situational issues. A small part of the population is blind, but many people have eyesight issues, including myself before my cataract operations – I had problems with colour contrasts and very small print, for instance.

Diagram with common situations when someone cannot touch, see, hear or speak "normally" due to permanent or temporary disability, or a specific situation, such as a bartender that cannot hear well because of a noisy environment.
The Microsoft Inclusive design Persona spectrum. I LOVE this.

But I digress! The question was: Is it possible to show a preview of the post, and not just the title, in a Carousel?

I checked a number of items:

1. News web part

I started out with changing my Intranet site’s News web part to Carousel. This is what the Carousel looks like in Edit Mode:

Screenshot of Edit Mode for a News web part in Carousel mode. It has some options to adjust how it is displayed on the page. e.g., number of items, automatic cycle and call to action.
Edit mode for the News web part, when selecting Carousel
  • You can determine the number of posts to show (recommended is max. 5, but you can go to 8)
  • You can change to the next item automatically (not recommended) and set the interval for change.
  • You can show a call to action. We will come back to that later.

So, there is no option in the Carousel itself to make extra information, such as the Description field, visible. On to the next option.

2. News post

The next step was to open one of the posts and see if there is any option for an extra text, image description or anything that could be shown in the Carousel.

In the web part menu, you can add “Text above title” where you can add 40 characters of text, so I did. It is immediately shown. I also added an Alt Text for the image.

Screenshot of news post in edit mode, showing some options for the image and for the display of the post.
Edit mode for the news post, with options

3. Page Details

Then I looked at the Page Details, changed the Description into a snappy summary and added a Call to Action with a link to a Form.
More on the Description field in this post.

Publishing the end result

So, I have 4 possible options to display:

  • Description
  • Text above title
  • Alt text for the image
  • Call to Action

I republished the page and looked eagerly which of the items would manifest itself on the News page.

Nothing. Zero. Zilch. It still just showed the title. Hovering over any element (image, title) did not show anything. πŸ˜₯

Screenshot of the News post after adding the extra options, such as "Text over Title", Description, Alt Text for the image, and Call-to-Action. Sadly, nothing is visible, not even when hovering over image or title.
The Carousel after adding all the extra’s and republishing. Sadly, none of the additional items are visible.
  • The Description is only visible in the web part layouts Top Story, List and Side-by-Side.
  • “Text above title” is only visible on the news post itself.
  • Alt text for the image is only available on the news post itself, in the Immersive Reader
  • The Call-to-Action does not show up, and the text and link in the Page Details are deleted after publication, so I guess this does not work. I added a Call-to-Action web part, hoping that it perhaps needed this nearby, but nothing. I will look into that; I remember a discussion on Twitter but forgot between whom.

Conclusion

I think it is currently NOT possible to show a preview, neither by default, nor by hovering over an element. If any of my readers have found a way to do it, please let me know!

Suggestions

At this moment I can only suggest using another web part layout, such as Top Story, List or Side-by-Side. Use the Description text to provide a good summary of the article. This is better for usability and accessibility and would allow users to see what the story is about, so they know whether it is worth their while to click.

Top Story layout. This shows the post’s Title and Description.

Additionally, you can use the Microsoft feedback portal to make a suggestion to allow a preview.

Articles on Carousels:

Carousel Photo by Mihai Vlasceanu: https://www.pexels.com/photo/carousel-with-lights-1403653/

Conferences and OneNote – updated

In-person conferences are back! And while we all managed to attend a lot of conferences online with very few issues, it is great to be able to meet face-to-face again, get swag and rejoice or complain about the catering! 😁

A few months before the pandemic I wrote a post about using OneNote to capture screenshots of presentations. When you do not want to wait until the slides become officially available, you can quickly grab screens and add them to your notes, provided you have two devices.
You can also use this at online meetings of course – just take a picture from your computer screen.

I have updated the post, as the way to take photos with OneNote has changed somewhat. You will see the button with link below, as the “reblogging” that I did the other day (for the new Microsoft365 Homepage) does not provide a good user experience. πŸ˜’

Additionally, I am adding an excerpt that you can use during the conference. You can download it as a PDF (and print and fold it), or use the image op top of this post.

As always, feel free to share with your colleagues. I will appreciate if you mention me when sharing it on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Enjoy many in-person conferences!

SharePoint Holmes and the not-so-Dynamic Description

The case

“Can you help me? I have edited my SharePoint News post two days ago, but the old text is still visible on the News page, under the title. How can I update it?”

SharePoint Holmes had not had a request for help recently, so he was eager to jump in! 😁

The investigation

Not everyone knows that the text underneath the post title on a News web part is determined by the text in the Description field. You can find the Description field in the Page Details on the post or page in question. I recently wrote about the behaviour of this Description field.

On my site’s Homepage I changed the News web part into a List view. This shows a good portion of the Description text.

I created and published a new post.

The new post, with part of the first paragraph in the Description

I checked the Description, and it matched the text; it showed almost the entire first paragraph.

As expected, the Description matches with the body text.

I then made a change to the first part of body text, republished, and checked the Description field.

The Description field still contained the old text, and on the News page the old preview text was still visible.

New body text, but still the old Description.

I then manually changed the Description text into a short summary. I had to change it manually anyway, so I tried to improve it.

As I had to redo the Description text anyway, I thought I’d make it a one-sentence summary.
This is the new Description. I think it looks much better than a sentence that trails off halfway.

The solution

Unfortunately, the Description field does not update itself when you make a change to the introduction text of a news post or page. You will have to manually update it if you want to reflect any edits.
Of course, this behaviour does not always have to be a problem. If you only make small edits, or edits in another part of the text, you do not necessarily need to change the Description.

But even if you do not need to change the text, you may want to change the Description into a snappy one-liner that immediately informs your audience about the essence of your post.

And by the way, I have now found #7 of my post 7 things to know about the Description field in SharePoint pages and news! Told you! 😊

I accidentally I have also found #8: The Description field is shown in the Newsletter digest. Not unexpected, of course, but now it has been confirmed.

The Description is also shown in the Newsletter.

About SharePoint Holmes:
Part of my role was solving user issues. Sometimes they are so common that I had a standard response, but sometimes I need to do some sleuthing to understand and solve it.
As many of my readers are in a similar position, I thought I’d introduce SharePoint Holmes, SharePoint investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud.

Teams Housekeeping for beginners

Most organizations will have been working with Teams for about two years now. There was an explosion of usage early in the pandemic in March/April 2020. I remember getting tons of requests for new Teams, as many people thought you need a Team site for chatting and conferencing. πŸ˜’

Many of these Team sites have never been used, at least not in my organization. Of course, the Microsoft365 admin has a role in deleting obviously unused Teams, but that is not sufficient. Team Owners and users have their own responsibility in making sure they are in the right Teams, but I know very well that not everyone has, or wants to spend, the time to do a good review and cleanup. And sometimes they do not even know how to go about it! (The psychiatrists and therapists I worked with, were not all very digitally savvy)

So, in order to avoid confusion and mess in your colleagues’ Teams setup, and colleagues complaining that “their Teams is a mess and that is Microsoft’s fault”, please help them checking their Teams on a regular basis. There are many ways that you can make Teams work for you if only you spend some time on it.

I have created a simple housekeeping flowchart. I love flowcharts and it was a good way to test-drive Visio Online! The functionality is great, but I miss the “arrange nicely” option that is in the desktop version, so please forgive me if things are a bit askew. 😊

Underneath the flowchart you will find a more elaborate description with texts and screenshots.

Feel free to use this flowchart with your audience.

You will find some more detailed instructions and screenshots below.

Step 1: Review the Teams that you are a member of

You will find all your Teams in the left-hand rail of Teams. You can manage most Team-level actions by clicking the … next to the Teams name and selecting the desired action from the popup.

The 2 Teams in my tenant.
The Team actions, with highlights on the ones that are relevant for this post

Is the Team still in use?

For each Team, first check if it is still in use. If not, you can Leave the Team and it will no longer be in your list. If you are the Owner of the Team, please Delete the Team, except when the Team has Private or Shared channels. In that case, please check with the owner and users of those channels, as those are managed differently than the regular channels.

Update 16-11-2022: You can also Archive the Team and make it read-only. This can be an intermediate solution when you want to keep the info from an important project for some time, or when someone is afraid to delete the Team altogether. My personal experience is that nobody ever looks at an Archive, so you may as well just delete the Team, but not everybody knows that yet 😁.
Instructions for archiving. Thanks to Thierry Barthel for pointing this out.

Do you still need to be a member?

❌ If you have changed jobs since you were added to this Team, you may no longer need this. Or perhaps the project in this Team has been completed or stopped, or any other change may have occurred that makes this Team no longer relevant for you.
If you do not need to be in this Team anymore, Leave the Team.

❓ If you do not know, you can Hide it. The Team will then be moved to the bottom of the list of Teams, under Hidden Teams. You can occasionally check if something has happened by clicking on the Hidden Teams and checking the Team. If the Team is useful after all, you can unhide it by clicking … next to the Team’s name and selecting “Show” from the popup.

The Demo Team is hidden and no longer clutters my list of Teams, but can be made visible easily

Alternatively, you can keep it where it is and check now and then whether you still need this. It may be a good idea to collapse the channels so you only see the Team’s name. You do this by clicking the little triangle to the left of the Team’s name. To reverse this, click the triangle again.

Teams expanded, so you see the channels that are not hidden)
When you hover over the Teams names, you will see the triangle to expand or collapse the Teams.

βœ… If this Team is still relevant for you, please check the channels as in Step 2.
If you have many Teams, you can drag the most important Team(s) to the top of the list by selecting the Team name. By default, they are sorted in order of creation.

Step 2. Review the channels in the remaining Teams

If you are certain this Team is important for you, check each channel in this Team. You cannot leave a channel, but you can hide it to make it less visible (except the General channel). It is also possible to mute notifications.

You can manage most channel-related actions by clicking the … next to the channel name and selecting the desired action from the popup.

The channel actions, with highlights on the ones relevant for this post

You will have the following options:

❌The channel is not important
Please Hide it. Once there is a new message, the channel name will show in bold letters, but if you have hidden the channel, you will not see that until you click on “Hidden channels”. You can also decide to turn off notifications.

When there is a new message in a hidden channel, you only see it when you click on “x hidden channels”. 3 channel names are bold, so there are new posts.

❓You do not know yet whether this is an important channel.
Just leave it there until you know. You can also Hide it to see if you are missing something and decide to turn off notifications.

βœ…The channel is important.
Make sure you can easily find it and get notified whenever something happens in the channel.
You can Pin it to the top of your Teams list so you can quickly find it.

A Pinned channel on top of the list, so I can easily find the most important one. 😊

With the Notifications you can make sure you will quickly know when something has been added or you have been mentioned.
You will set notifications for all your Teams and channels in your Teams settings, (click the … top right of your Teams app, next to your name, and select Settings > Notifications) There are quite a lot of options so please check it out yourself.
You can deviate per channel where necessary by using the Channel notifications in the channel actions popup.

Channel notification settings. You can set these in general in your Teams settings, and individually per channel where necessary.

Hopefully this is a good first step for most colleagues! You may want to remind them once a year that they should spend some time reviewing – once Teams have been set up properly, it will most likely only need a small revision.