Get rid of ‘View Entries’ in a SharePoint 2013 Append-Only Column in a View

It’s unlikely that the word ‘collaboration‘ would be missing from any high-level description of SharePoint. Collaboration is supposed to be one of the main benefits of SharePoint and it is; however, sometimes SharePoint makes it harder to collaborate than it really should be.

Take a ‘Multiple lines of text’ column with Append Changes enabled – this is a great feature as it allows you to have a conversation right in a list item. Who said what, when they said it and what they said is captured for all to see – just like in a forum (if you are not familiar with this feature, don’t worry – I will explain how to enable it in the steps below).

In this post I will describe how to get these comments and the associated metadata to appear in a ‘view’ – you will need SharePoint Designer 2013 for this. I will be applying the changes to our free SharePoint project management templates, but you should be able to follow the steps in your own SharePoint site or in the full BrightWork product (click the link to take a free trial).

The crux of the problem I am addressing today is that when you add an Append Only column to a view, you can’t see any of the entries, instead what you see is a “View Entries…” link that opens the item – not great if you just want to scan the list for recent comments.


Wouldn’t it be great if you could see the comment history for multiple items simultaneously – just like in the image below? You can do this with the Data View Webpart and SharePoint Designer  – read on to find out how. Hat-tip to Marc D Anderson for setting me on the way to solving this.


Add Append Only Column

Just in case you are unfamiliar with the Append Only Column, see below for how to enable it. If you already have such a column in your list, you can skip ahead to the next section.

  1. Go the the List Settings page and click Versioning settings.
  2. Select Yes to enable versioning for the list and click OK.
  3. Add a Multiple lines of text column to your list and select Yes beside Append Changes to Existing Text.

Tip: Unselect Add to default view as you will just get the not very usable View Entries bit you can see in the image above.

Enable Comments in Data View Web Part

In this section will describe how to get the comments into a view.

The Data View web part is one of those hidden SharePoint gems that not many people know about, mainly because you really need SharePoint Designer to get the most out of it. With Design View gone in SharePoint 2013, it gets a little (maybe a lot) harder to work with, but you can still do most of what you used to be able to do.

  1. Create a new page in the Site Contents library (any web part or wiki page will do).
  2. Open the page in SharePoint Designer.
  3. Click Advanced Mode to enable code editing.
  4. Click between the two Zone Template tags.
  5. Click Insert | Data View | Empty Data View.
    (Selecting a specific list inserts a List View web part, which we can’t use here)
  6. Click between the Data Sources tags.
  7. Click Insert | Data Source | Project Tasks.
  8. Select the Task Name column in the Data Source Details panel and click Multiple Items View on the Insert Selected Fields as menu.
  9. Click Add/Remove Columns.
  10. Add the columns you want to add and click OK.
  11. Click F12 on your keyboard and Yes twice to view the page in your browser – you will notice that View Entries displays!
  12. Return to SharePoint Designer and find the XSL that relates to the Comments column – it is high-lighted in yellow below. An easy way to find it is to search for “td class=”ms-vb”.
  13. Replace the XSL (the bit high-lighted in Yellow with the below code and make sure that the field name matches what was displayed after the @ sign in the XSL (‘Comment’ in this case).
    <SharePoint:AppendOnlyHistory FieldName="Comment" runat="server" ControlMode="Display" ItemId="{@ID}"/>
  14. Click Save and when you refresh the page you should see all the comments in the data view!


Update 1 – Fix AssignedTo Issue

Thanks to Jordon in the comments for setting me on the right path to this.

Essentially, you must replace the XSL for Assigned to with the below code.

<SharePoint:FieldValue FieldName=”AssignedTo” runat=”server” ControlMode=”Display” ItemId=”{@ID}” />




Unfortunately, we don’t get all the options we normally get in a standard view. Really all I was able to get was the ability to see all Comments in all items in a list. When I added the Assigned To column, I got a weird error where a lot of code was also displayed (see image below).

What I would really like to be able to do is show the comments in a standard view, with the list item menu and so on, and be able to opt to only show the last comment or the last two comments.

So if you know how to rectify these issues or anything else, please add a comment.


Homepage discussions Get rid of ‘View Entries’ in a SharePoint 2013 Append-Only Column in a View

This topic contains 26 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Michael Downing Michael Downing 3 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #22084


    nice post.



    Fix for the Assigned To column not rendering correctly:

    It’s not showing because it is a lookup field. If you look at the comments at the end of your example, you can see there is a lookup field coming through (user who made appended comment). In order to fix the Assigned To column, we just need to use the SharePoint:LookupField class and do step 12 and 13 again.

    This is the code I used to replace the existing Assigned To and it came through perfectly!



    SharePoint:LookupField FieldName=”AssignedTo” runat=”server” ControlMode=”Display” ItemId=”{@ID}”

    The code didn’t come through on OP, here it is without the opening and closing tags.

    Profile photo of Donal McCarthy
    Donal McCarthy

    Jordan – thanks for that.

    When I tried the SharePoint:LookupField the column was empty. I did a bit of Googling and came up with the idea of replacing SharePoint:LookupField with SharePoint:FieldValue and that worked!

    SharePoint:FieldValue FieldName=”AssignedTo” runat=”server” ControlMode=”Display” ItemId=”{@ID}”



    Yes! That works much better. I found out yesterday that the SharePoint:LookupField was pulling what the first value of AssignedTo was and using that for all. FieldValue worked perfectly for me.

    However, I have now come accross another issue. When using two lists with a separate DataView for each, The Comments field is only coming through in one list. The other list is populated but with the same data from the first list (ID=1 from list 1 is being shown for ID=1 list 2). Have you seen anything similar and/or know the fix? Do I need to use a column with a different name, that seems like a workaround that should work.

    Profile photo of Donal McCarthy
    Donal McCarthy

    That sounds like you’re mixing your data sources. I’d try starting again and making sure you select the correct target list as a the data source.



    That was my thought as well. I checked to make sure in each data view that they were pulling in the correct source from list ID and they seemed to be. Then I set the ListID property in the item explicitly and nothing changed. I’ve tried creating from the beginning a couple times and just cannot get them to work together.

    Have you been able to use multiple data views or multiple sources in a single data view with this?

    Profile photo of Donal McCarthy
    Donal McCarthy

    As far as I know, combining data from multiple lists is a DWP feature.

    Did you try deleting everything between the Data Source tags and using the insert Data Source button?



    Excellent post, Donal. Many thanks. Such an obvious functionality to have, and so easy to accomplish, it should be an OOB element. Like so much else in SharePoint unfortunately!

    I’m now looking at whether there’s a way to generate a dynamic HTML link to surface a single Comments field from within a list into a modal pop-up DataView…

    Profile photo of Donal McCarthy
    Donal McCarthy

    Thanks Greg.
    What you are trying to do sounds very interesting – do let us know how you get on!


    Vaishnavi K

    How can i show Id column in Version History for Sharepoint 2010 Foundation list.

    Thanks in Advance.




    I have been looking for this solution for a couple of months now. I have hit a snag…
    When going Insert | Data View… Data View button is greyed out.
    Is this a functionality issue with my corporate SharePoint? Or do I need to make another change before this functionality will work for me?
    I am in an environment that is very anti-SharePoint due to terrible implementation and complete lack of IT support.
    Anything you can do to help me show those who hate how SharePoint can easily solve many of our collaboration issues.

    Profile photo of Donal McCarthy
    Donal McCarthy

    Hi Connie,

    Not sure what could be causing that.

    Maybe take a look here and see if any of the solutions here help.

    Let me know how you get on!




    What if what I want is to get rid of the “View entries” option just for those items where no data exists?

    I’m ok with having just the entries’ link in the column (in my case, I have too many comments so the view would be very unfriendly).

    However, it annoys me to have the “View entries” link in ALL items (whether they have comments or not) because it makes not possible for me to know which items have comments.

    Any solution for that?

    Thank you!

    Profile photo of Donal McCarthy
    Donal McCarthy

    Hi Cristian,

    That sounds like a great idea but I wouldn’t have a clue how to implement!

    Please do come back and let us know if you find how to do it though.


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