This video will walk you through the process of applying retention to records in SharePoint using Information Management Policy Settings.

It applies to SharePoint Online (2016) and is intended for individuals responsible for managing their department’s SharePoint architecture. Users should have familiarly with creation of document libraries and moving folders and files within SharePoint.

Using metadata and content types, this feature allows you to set a retention period on folders in SharePoint and automate deletion of records that have met their retention requirements.

Click here to watch!



In this video, we’ll be showing you how to manage records retention in SharePoint using the Information Management Policy Settings.

We will be creating a new folder content type, creating a new site column to track when retention begins, applying a retention period using the Information Management Policy Settings, adding the new content type to the document library, and then applying retention to documents in folders using this new folder content type.

Let’s get started. I’m going to start from the front page of this SharePoint site. The document library we are going to use is Personnel, which you can see listed on the left menu. First, let’s create our folder content type. Go to the gear and click Site Settings. Click Site content types. Click Create.

We’ll be creating a folder that can be used to manage retention for records that have a 3-year retention period. A real-life example of a 3-year record are Personnel Folders, which have a retention of 3 years after the employee separates.

You can of course make a folder content type for another type of record. You can use the UW General Records Retention Schedule to find the retention period and retention start date.

Choose Folder as the parent content types. Click OK.

Our content type has been created. Next, we need to add a site column to track when retention begins. Click Add new site column. I’m going to call this site column ‘retention trigger date’ because it’s going to track the date that will trigger the start of retention. You can give it any name that makes sense to you and your work group. I chose this name because it’s broad enough to use for any type of record. Some other good examples are ‘retention start date’, ‘cutoff date’, ‘trigger date’, or if you think you’re only going to use this for one type of record, you can choose a specific name, such as ‘end of study date’, ‘end of fiscal year’, or ‘end of quarter’. Choose Date and Time for the type of column, and then click OK.

Now that we’ve made our folder content type and have added the site column, we can add retention.

Click Information Management Policy Settings. Check Enable Retention. Click Add a retention stage.

We’re basing retention on a date property of the item, which is the retention trigger date. Our retention period is 3 years. When the folder meets that retention of 3 years after our retention trigger date, we want to move the whole folder to the recycling bin. The folder will stay in the recycling bin for 30 days, which gives you time to review before it’s permanently deleted.

Next, we’ll add the new content type to our Personnel document library. While in the document library, click the gear and choose Library Settings. Click Advanced Settings. Check Yes on Allow management of content types. Click OK. Click Add from existing site content types. Find the folder content type that we just created, click Add, and then OK.

You can see that the content type has been added to the library, and the retention trigger date column is now included.

Let’s return to the Personnel document library and add a new 3-year folder. You can see I have some personnel folders and a Separated Employees folder. We want to create new retention managed folders in the Separated Employees folder. Click New and choose 3-year folder.

Inside of this 2016 folder, which has a retention trigger date of 12/31/2016, we can move over the personnel folders of employees who separated any time during 2016. This 2016 folder uses that 3-year folder content type with our Information Management Policy. This means that the whole folder will be sent to the Recycling Bin on 12/31/2019.

Let’s go ahead and create folders for more years, and set the retention trigger date for each as the last day of the year.

And now we can start managing retention of our employee personnel folders. So let’s say that Laura Palmer and Audrey Horne have separated. Let’s move them into the folder that matches their year of separation. Because we are managing the personnel folders of all the separated employees for one year, we don’t have to apply retention to each individual personnel folder, or the documents inside.

What we have essentially created is a digital banker’s box filled with folders, filled with documents. Many folders and documents, one retention period, and one deletion date which is automated thanks to the Information Management Policy Settings.

If you have any questions about any of the steps in this video, or if you would like more information, you can email us at