SharePoint has become the golden standard for business collaboration and content management. It is flexible and affordable and has outstanding document management capabilities. However, it is not just about document management. Quite often, as it is the case with Intranets, you need to share other information, in the form of text, links, images, and videos. A knowledge base or Wiki is something most organizations would love to develop and utilize internally. In this post, I would like to list the available, out of the box options for building a Wiki in SharePoint.
Update May 7, 2019: Below techniques refer to the OLD ways of creating Wiki in SharePoint. While these methods are still relevant in SharePoint on-premises, in SharePoint Online we now have new, modern ways of creating knowledge-base repositories. As such, please reference this post to learn more about the new ways of creating a Knowledge Base Wiki in SharePoint.
Option 1: Wiki Library web part
SharePoint Wiki Library is just like a document library, except, instead of documents, you store pages. To Create a new Wiki Library, click on Site Contents > Add an App > Wiki Library
When you create a Wiki Library, there are two default pages that come with it Out of the Box, but you can create new ones.
To create a new page, just click New, give it a name and type text, insert images and videos.
As you create and update pages, the Updated Pages section in the upper left-hand corner shows you the recently updated pages.
Option 2: Site Pages Document Library
This is my favorite option! With Option 1, we created a separate library for our Wiki pages. What you might not have realized is that you already have a Wiki library on your SharePoint site. If you click on Site Contents and look at Site Pages – you will notice that it is indeed a Wiki Library!
If you click on Site Pages – you will realize that it is identical to the Wiki Library from the previous option. The Home page is the Homepage of your SharePoint site. Anytime you add/create other pages on your SharePoint site – they all end up in this Site Pages Library.
So what that means is that you could just add Wiki or Knowledge Base pages/articles right inside the Site Pages Wiki Library, without creating an extra one. The only difference between Site Pages Library and Wiki Library is that you won’t get Updated Pages section with the Site Pages (it is a unique feature of Wiki Library from Option 1). I personally do not find it as a big deal.
Option 3: Enterprise Wiki
There is another option to create Wikis in SharePoint, and that is by creating an Enterprise Wiki. Enterprise Wiki is a special template that you choose when you create a new site. So in a way, you will actually be creating a separate site (subsite) specifically for your Wiki. Not only that, this site template is only available on site collections with publishing features enabled. Before you go ahead and activate publishing features, I suggest that you familiarize yourself with this option and decide whether it is worthwhile the effort and trade-offs.
Once you create an Enterprise Wiki site, you will end up on a page that looks like this below
For the most part – Enterprise Wiki has the same editing capabilities as the “regular” Wiki. However, you also get 2 “Enterprise Wiki” specific features like:
- Page Rating – the ability to rate pages
- Metadata Tagging – ability to tag pages/articles on the same screen where you are editing a page
Behind the scenes, pages for the Enterprise Wiki are stored in the Pages Library (just like Site Pages, except this library is for pages on site collection where publishing features have been enabled).
How to Edit Content on the Wiki Pages?
Working with Content is very easy, just like editing a “regular” SharePoint page. That means you get a full array of text formatting capabilities. To edit the SharePoint/Wiki page, just click on Edit Page under the gear icon.
Moreover, you are not restricted to just the text. Just like you can insert web parts on the SharePoint page, you can also insert Images, Videos, Tables to spice up your Wiki Knowledge Base.
Linking Wiki Pages
As you develop your company Knowledge Base, you most definitely will need an ability to link between different Wiki pages you create. Linking pages in SharePoint is actually pretty cool. Say, you want to link to another page in your wiki, just type in the two open square brackets *[[* on the page and you will notice a small window pop-up. It will list all of the existing pages that you can link to. Just choose one from the list and you are done!
You can also link to future pages too. Say, you are developing a Wiki and first want to create a structure (Table of Contents) in place and then let your employees update content on the pages you have created. No problem at all! Just type in the page name after the brackets in the above step, complete it with two closed square brackets *]]* and save the page.
You will notice a dotted line appear under pages that you linked to, but where the pages themselves do not exist yet. To go ahead and create a page, just click on the page name with the dotted line and hit create on the pop-up message. This will create a page for you that you or your users can then edit and save!
How to monitor page revisions
An amazing feature that exists on all SharePoint pages, but I specifically find very useful with Wikis, is Page History functionality. It allows you to track the revisions of your pages and also compare the changes! Your Wiki will (hopefully) be a live document that will constantly be updated. So it will be important to see the changes made and sometimes compare pages to previous versions. To do that, just click on Page History in the top ribbon.
You will be presented with the list of all revisions and you can click on each one to trace history. Moreover, you can compare any two versions to see the changes made!
How to Search for Content in the Wiki
Searching the Wiki is straightforward – you just need to use a search box that exists on the site. Because your Wiki site will be a dedicated site, the search box will by default pick up all the keywords from the pages you create on this site. So your search results should be pretty accurate and not mixed up with the rest of the keywords from your whole site collection.
How you might utilize SharePoint Wiki in your organization
Over the years, I have seen clients utilize Wiki for a variety of different types of pages/content. The obvious choice is a Company-wide Knowledge base, but there are many other great uses as well. Here are some ideas for you/examples of what I have seen my clients do:
- HR: Employee Onboarding – easily share information, links, and documents with new employees
- PMO: Build a Wiki/Knowledge Base to document and share Project Management Methodology
- FAQ: Create Frequently Asked Questions zone for your employees