What Is a SharePoint Taxonomy?

By Janice Uwujaren

In general, SharePoint taxonomy refers to a catalog of objects in your SharePoint environment or the process of categorizing or classifying objects based on a taxonomic scheme. The ultimate goal of the taxonomy development process is to obtain a comprehensive schema that logically organizes related objects in a hierarchical structure across a SharePoint implementation. SharePoint taxonomy establishes categories and naming standards to introduce consistency across a SharePoint deployment and supports comprehensive enterprise metadata management. This provides a detailed roadmap from which enterprise content users and information workers can easily discover and locate the information they need to solve business problems.


Effective taxonomy development is the essential ingredient that promotes a scalable, flexible and consistent framework for your SharePoint implementation. A clearly defined SharePoint taxonomy is critical to the success, power and predictable growth of a deployment. Without a clear definition, poor or no taxonomy may produce unplanned and undesirable outcomes such as inconsistent naming conventions, vague field names and disorganized site structure, making enterprise search capabilities useless and your SharePoint implementation unsustainable.


Designing the SharePoint taxonomy helps to derive business rules by defining objects, their characteristics and relationships – serving as the basis for the information architecture and input to a governance plan for your implementation. That is why it is important to perform the necessary due diligence to ensure that the taxonomy is sustainable and accurate to avoid any problems or defects in the future. This involves reviewing and analyzing the taxonomy schema to resolve any gaps, duplicate elements or inconsistencies. When developing the taxonomy for your SharePoint implementation, employ a technology-neutral approach and focus primarily on the business objectives and problems of your enterprise.

SharePoint Taxonomy and Governance

SharePoint governance provides the mechanisms, processes and procedures that set exact expectations and establishes control to ensure all measures are in place to support the success, transparency and predictability of a SharePoint deployment. Evolution and management of the taxonomy in your SharePoint environment should be a vital component of a governance plan and the primary motivation for a governance team. Most importantly, solid SharePoint governance supports conformity to a standard and consistent taxonomy across the enterprise.

SharePoint Taxonomy and Information Architecture

SharePoint taxonomy lays the groundwork for the design of and extends the information architecture of your SharePoint implementation. Defining the information architecture is central to designing a solution that can scale to meet immediate and future business needs. Therefore, a comprehensive and well-planned taxonomy aids in the understanding of a site’s information capabilities as input to the definition of a compliant information architecture.