Quick and Easy: Using an Announcements List for FAQs in SharePoint

I’ve probably blogged about this at one point or another somewhere, but I can’t seem to find it. A frequent requirement I get from clients is to add a set of FAQs to a SharePoint site. I always just "borrow" an Announcements list for this.

Here’s a look at what columns you might use for a standard FAQ. Of course, you might add a few or subtract a few from what I show here.

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Let me run through each column:

Question This is the "Q" of the FAQ and is the Title column from the Announcement, co-opted and renamed.
Answer This is the Body column from the Announcement, co-opted and renamed.
Expires This is the standard Expires Date/Time column from the Announcement.
Display on Home page In the particular example that I’m using here, we were adding these FAQ lists to many sites and then using a Data View Web Part (DVWP) to show whichever items were marked as ‘Yes’ in this column on the Site Collection Home Page. The Author of any FAQ could check this or not, we didn’t have any fancy governance requirements.
Category Usually FAQs fall into some sort of groupings. In this case, we used a simple Choice column, but for wider reuse, you’d probably want to use a Site Column, a Site Column which is a Lookup column into a list, or a Managed Metadata column (SharePoint 2010).
SortOrder In most cases, you’d like to control the display order of the FAQs within the Category, so this SortOrder column is useful.

You can create one of these lists ands then just save it as a List Template for reuse whenever someone wants to use it. While you could also certainly develop this as a deployable solution and activate it as a Feature, it’s probably overkill for something this simple.

For the greatest flexibility in display, including adding an FAQ index at the top of the Web Part and expand/collapse capabilities to the items, I usually use a DVWP to display the items from the list. You can store the XSL for this in one central location (I usually use a Document Library in the root of the Site Collection or the ‘/Style Library/XSL Style Sheets’ folder.

Note that while you can get a little fancier with this in SharePoint 2010, a similar approach is just as useful as it is in SharePoint 2007.