SharePoint Online list vs document library

Lists and document libraries are two key features of SharePoint Online. We can use both lists and libraries to store and manage information within an organization. Here, In this SharePoint Online tutorial, I will explain all about the SharePoint list and library. Then, I will show you the difference between the SharePoint Online list and the document library.

What is SharePoint Online List?

  • A SharePoint Online list is a collection of data displayed in rows and columns. It is very similar to a spreadsheet or a simple database. In a list, the columns are called fields, properties, or metadata, and the rows are called list items.
  • A SharePoint list is a collection of data we can share with our team members and users. Also, it is designed for tracking and managing data.
  • In the SharePoint list, we can create various views, sort, filter, or group by certain metadata fields, etc…

Here, you can see, I have a SharePoint Online list as “Customer Details,” and inside this, I have created various columns with different data types, and list items.

List and libraries in SharePoint Online

This is all about SharePoint Online List.

What is SharePoint Online Document Library?

  • A SharePoint Online document library is a secure place to store and share documents across the organization.
  • When we create a new SharePoint site, by default document library will be created else we can also create different custom libraries.
  • The SharePoint document library is an all-in-one file manager that allows us to add files, create folders, download files, move documents, delete all unwanted files, sort documents, etc…
  • We can design a document library for tracking and managing data such as when it was created, when it was modified, who created it, etc…

Here, you can see, I have created a SharePoint document library as “Polocy Documents” and inside this, I have added different folders as well.

What is the list and library in SharePoint

This is all about the SharePoint Online document library.

SharePoint Online list vs document library

Let us discuss the differences between SharePoint Online lists and document libraries. Such as:

SharePoint listSharePoint document library
SharePoint list contains items that are a collection of columns/fields/properties. And each item has one or more attachments.SharePoint library also contains items that are a collection of columns/fields/properties. But each item has only one file.
A SharePoint list is like a table in Excel or SQL database server.SharePoint libraries are special types of lists that are created to store documents.
The sharePoint list can only focus on text stored in fields. The SharePoint document library can only focus on a single document.
In SharePoint Online, the list does not support check-in and check-out features.In SharePoint Online, The document libraries support the check-in and check-out features.
Some of the common examples of lists are calendars, contact lists, task lists, announcements lists, discussion boards, etc…Some of the common examples of libraries are document libraries, picture libraries, site assets libraries, site page libraries, etc…
There is no maximum limit to adding a document as an attachment to the list item. Here, we will save the document itself as an item in the library, and without a document, we cannot create an item in a SharePoint Library.
The attachment document in a list item will not work with the eDiscovery feature.Documents in a SharePoint library will work with the eDiscovery feature.
In a SharePoint list, we can set item-level permissions.In a SharePoint document library, this item-level permissions feature is not available.
We can use only major versions.We can use both major (Published) and minor (Dreaft) versions.
In a SharePoint list, attachments are not included in the search index or result.In a SharePoint library, documents are included in the search results.
SharePoint list allows us to organize the information flexibly and dynamically.Every SharePoint document library displays a list of documents and files along with essential information.
The SharePoint list doesn’t support this feature of document management.In the SharePoint document library, we have the option to store a document as a template.
We can’t enable location-based default values in a SharePoint list.We can enable location-based default values in a document library.
We can’t add document sets in SharePoint Online lists.Document libraries have a document set to organize the data.


Microsoft provides two major components to SharePoint Online. While lists are suited for managing structured data and tracking information, document libraries are ideal for storing and managing documents and files. Here, from this tutorial, I have explained all about the SharePoint list and library. Then, we are knowing the main differences between SharePoint lists and libraries.

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