Life Made Easier – SharePoint Property Promotion & Demotion

A well-known concept about SharePoint is property promotion & demotion. Quite simply put, property promotion refers to a document’s property being sent to the document library in which it resides and demotion is just the opposite.

While this may sound trivial, it has some deep founding implications. Say that you’re making a sales proposal. Most of us have proposal templates from which we start. Perhaps the first thing we do is search & replace the client name. Now suppose that the client name was automatically replaced for us – wouldn’t that be a treat? Let’s see what this looks like in action and where it becomes possible for this to work and where it won’t.

For the purpose of illustration, I have created a custom list in SharePoint called “Customers” – this will hold the customer details for me. A document library called “Proposals” has been created which has a custom field of the type “Lookup”; pointing to the “Customers” list.

The “Customers” list is shown in the picture below. This list has two columns – “Customer Name” refers to the parent company and “Contact Name” refers to a contact person within that company.


The settings screen for the proposed library is shown below. The proposals library has a lookup column called “Customer” which points to the “Customers” list. The contact name is also present here as an included column.


That is all there is to set up this procedure. At this point, let’s click the “New Document” link of the Proposals library – this will open a new word document.



Now we will insert a new document property (as shown in the screen below). As can be seen, the “Customer” property declared on the document library is now present as a document property.


Upon inserting this property in the document, a smart tag is inserted into the document, which is attached to the live data in the SharePoint customers list.


Select “IOTAP” from the list and save the document in the document library. The document appears in the library as shown below.


Now edit the document property via the SharePoint property editor and set the Customer property to “Al-Ansari Construction Division”. Then open the document in Microsoft Word.


As you can see, the property has now changed to what it was set on the server.

That, in a nutshell, is the concept of property promotion & demotion. While the functionality is great, it is not without caveats! For example, the contact name property defined on the document library didn’t make it through. Using document properties in itself is a great way to manage document meta-data but when these properties are bound to a SharePoint document library in a duplex mode, it takes the managed meta-data to a whole different level.