How do we make it easier for documents to be found through Microsoft 365?


Recently a client asked us the question, “How do we make it easier for documents to be found on SharePoint and Microsoft 365?”.

This post is a repost from the iThink 365 site.

The question came about as we started them on the Microsoft 365 Intranet and SharePoint Online migration journey. Of course one of the issues, when you move content to web-based tools like SharePoint, is that people worry that they cannot find their documents anymore.

Finding documents on a network drive is much harder if you do not know what you are looking for. However, with the network drive, if people cannot find the content they will either ask someone, give up and re-create it. With tools like SharePoint and its search engine the users will most likely find the content but it may take more time than it should.

So then how can we help Microsoft 365 understand what our content is and improve the experience for the people we work with to find our content?

This article explains some ways that you can make your content more discoverable, it is focused on Microsoft Word documents but some of the tips will also work with the Microsoft Office suite.

Tip one: Give your documents good file names.

The number one way that Microsoft 365 search establishes a match to a search query is through the file name. So, make sure you give your file a good name that makes it discoverable.

Think about what terms others or you would use to when searching for the document. If you name it well it might save you or your colleagues from having to write the document again!

Tip Two: Populate the Title field of the Office Document

Every document, workbook, and slide deck in the Microsoft Office suite has a Title field. This is one of the key values that Microsoft 365 search engines use to indicate relevance.

Where to find the Title field property in Microsoft Word

To populate the title field property in Microsoft Word, click File -> Info and fill out the Title field with the name of your document.

Admittedly this is not the most discoverable location for this field and will likely get forgotten about.

However, keep reading to find a way to fix that!

Tip three: Make it easy for your users to fill out that important Title field.

Help your users make their documents more discoverable by embedding the Title field in your organisation’s template.

In Microsoft Word, you can embed that Title field that we discussed in tip two into the main part of the document. Now, a user can fill out the Title field whilst they are writing their document in their flow of work.

To do this do the following, in your Microsoft Word document add the Title field into the document by choosing.

From Microsoft Word, click Insert -> Quick Parts -> Document Property -> Title

Menu options to add the Title Field

This will insert the Title field into your Word document.

The Microsoft Word document can now be turned into a Word template and formatted with your company’s branding and shared across the organisation. Now when users create a Word document with the template then they will fill in the Title field as part of the process.


We hope you found some of these ideas and approaches for improving the discoverability of your Word Documents in SharePoint Online and Microsoft 365.

How to exclude content from Microsoft 365 Search


Recently I was asked by a customer using SharePoint to host all their insurance claim content how they could exclude the content from showing up in searches from their Microsoft 365 Intranet.

Search has evolved in Microsoft 365 with two engines, Microsoft 365 Search and SharePoint Search. Had it been configuring SharePoint search I would have no problem showing them how to do it.

With Microsoft 365 Search, I was sure there was a way as I remember hearing something about search configuration in the back of my mind but was not sure.

The issue was more important because they had switched off search within the site collection. So that the content did not display but this had some unexpected consequences.

Including, they could no longer find content associated with their claims application. List searching and filtering did not work anymore. This made administering the application difficult which had millions of associated files. Finally, if they later wanted to improve performance by using search to improve the experience for their teams then this would no longer be possible.

A solution was needed!

Fortunately, Microsoft’s effort in improving the Microsoft 365 Search configuration experience has made it possible to do what we want to do.

Let’s provide a bit of background.


So how can this be achieved?

Well, firstly, let us explain what needs to be configured. When you do a search from any of the Microsoft 365 search boxes for example in SharePoint or Teams you get a set of results as shown below.

Example Microsoft 365 Search from SharePoint Online

You can see a summary of search results but if you click on “Show more results” then this expands to a dedicated search results page. This results page allows you to refine the search across different categories (called search verticals) to make it easier to find the right resource. By default, these search verticals include things like filtering to just files, people, news, and images.

Example of a search result with search verticals.

We bring up the search verticals as this is how we will config Microsoft 365 Search to exclude content. We will also need to configure each of the search verticals as well to ensure that one of them does not bring unexpected content back.

Microsoft Search uses Keyword Query Language or KQL and it is possible to configure this to restrict the search results to a particular result set. More information on KQL can be found at


Now, with Microsoft 365 Search it is possible to configure the search and these search verticals to exclude content. So, how do we do this?

Firstly, the user to do this will need to have one of the following roles:

  • Global Admin
  • Search Administrator

Firstly, let’s say that the site content that we want to exclude is found on a site with this URL,

To do this do the following:

  • Click Show All
  • Click Settings->Search and Intelligence
  • Choose Customizations and then Verticals
  • Select the All Vertical and choose Edit
  • Click on Query and then Edit
  • Keep the name of the vertical and, click Next
  • Paste the following KQL as shown below.
  • Click Next

NOT (path:

Configure the Query for the Search Vertical
  • At the Filters click Next
  • Review the vertical settings, and click “Update Vertical”
  • Wait a few seconds
  • Click Done and go back to the vertical settings screen.

With this vertical completed now repeat the process for the other search verticals.

How long does this take to apply to Microsoft 365 Search?

In my experience, it can take up to 3-4 hours for the changes to take place.


So hopefully armed with this knowledge you can now configure your Microsoft 365 Search so that it excludes content without disabling search and making life harder for you and your admin teams when they are working with sensitive local content.