Plan for Topics

You're in control of how topics are experienced in your organization. Your planning decisions for Topics ensure that high quality topics are shown to your users and they have the right permissions to consume and contribute knowledge.

In this article we'll examine these planning decisions:

  • Which SharePoint sites you want to crawl for topics
  • Which topics, if any, you want to exclude from topic experiences
  • Which users you want to make topics visible to
  • Which users you want to give permissions to manage topics in the topic center
  • Which users you want to give permissions to create or edit topics in the topic center
  • What name you want to give your topic center

Security and privacy of your data is respected, and topic experiences does not grant users additional access to files they don’t have rights to. We recommend you also read Topics security and privacy as part of your planning process.

To learn more about the AI technology behind Topics, read Alexandria in Topics: from big data to big knowledge.

Keep in mind that Topics needs access to the sites and files that your users use every day. Deploying Topics in a test or development environment may not yield useful results.


Topics doesn't support Service encryption with Customer Key.


You must be subscribed to Topics and be both SharePoint and Groups administrator to access the Microsoft 365 admin center and set up Topics.

Assigning licenses is covered in Set up Topics. If you plan to assign licenses programmatically, be sure the users already have licenses for Microsoft 365 (for example, E3 or E5).


Topics crawls content in the supported languages for processing topics.

Topic discovery

The topic discovery settings specify which SharePoint sites are used as sources for topics. This includes both classic and modern sites, as well as sites associated with Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365 Groups. OneDrive sites aren't included. Topics crawls all Office files, text files, and the SharePoint site pages themselves in the sites you specify.

You can choose to include all SharePoint sites, a specific list of sites, or no sites. We recommend that you choose all sites so that topic experiences can discover a large number of good topics for your users.

When you set up Topics, you can choose from the following options:

  • All sites: All SharePoint sites in your organization. This includes current and future sites.
  • All, except selected sites: All sites except for the ones you specify. Sites created in future will be included as sources for topic discovery.
  • Only selected sites: Only the sites that you specify. Sites created in the future won't be included as sources for topic discovery.
  • No sites: Don't include any SharePoint sites.

We recommend selecting enough sites to include at least 20,000 documents to get the best results from Topics.

If you choose either All, except selected sites or Only selected sites, you can upload a .csv file with a list of sites. These options are useful if you're doing a pilot and you want to include a limited number of sites to start.

You can copy the .csv template below:

Site name,URL

We don't recommend choosing No sites because it prevents topics from being automatically created or updated. However, you can choose this option if you want to set up Topics and then add sites later.

We recommend you create a process for users or knowledge managers to request individual sites be removed from topic discovery if needed in your organization.

Item insights

Topics benefits from the input AI collects from Microsoft Graph signals. Item insights are insights that Microsoft calculates using machine learning techniques and applies them as content recommendations for you and your colleagues in your organization. Microsoft derives insights from analyzing activities (such as modifying, commenting, or sharing) to empower user-centric experiences with recommendations for users of Microsoft 365. Enabling item insights in Microsoft 365 will help your organization have the most accurate results in Topics.


If your organization has deployed Microsoft 365 Multi-Geo, Topics respects data sovereignty by ensuring topics data is always stored in the correct geo location. The topic center is provisioned in the central location and content from all geo locations is processed there. The resulting discovered topics are stored in the same geo location as the source content. If the topic source data moves between geo locations, the corresponding topic properties, such as the description, moves as well.

User permissions

The user permissions that you specify determine which people in your organization interact with topics and what they can do.


At this time, Topics doesn't support providing licenses or user permissions for Guest (External) users.

Manage topics

Knowledge managers oversee the quality of information, how its structured, and other best practices in your organization. They can confirm and reject topics.

While you can specify individual topic managers, we recommend that you create a security group (or use an existing one) that contains the people who you want to be knowledge managers. You can specify this security group during the setup process.

Create and edit topics

Topic contributors are the champions and subject matter experts in your organization. They can create and edit topics.

We recommend that you allow everyone in your organization to create and edit topics because topic experiences work best when all users can share information.

If you want to limit creating and editing topics to specific people or groups, create a security group for them and specify it during the setup process.

You can choose to not allow anyone to contribute to topics, however this is not recommended. Knowledge managers will still be able to edit and create topics if you choose this option.

Topic viewers

Topic viewers can see information on topic pages, in search results and when topics are highlighted in the content like SharePoint pages. Users can only see discovered topics when they have access to the files and pages the topic was discovered in.

When setting up topic viewers, you can choose from:

  • Everyone in my organization
  • Only selected people or security groups
  • No one

We recommend Everyone in my organization, but if you're doing a pilot you may want to choose only selected people or security groups. You can also choose No one if you want to set up Topics, but not allow people to see topics yet. (Knowledge managers will still have access to allow them to view the topics and help with the decision to make Topics broadly available.)

Knowledge rules

As an administrator, you can exclude certain topics from topic experiences. This is useful if you want to keep sensitive data from appearing in topics. While knowledge managers can exclude topics in the topic center, topics excluded by the administrator are not even visible to knowledge managers. (Knowledge managers can also remove topics in the topic center after discovery.)

If you want to exclude topics at the administrator level, you must add them to a .csv file and upload the file. You can do this during setup or later.

The .csv file must contain the following parameters:

  • Name: Type the name of the topic you want to exclude. There are two ways to do this:

  • MatchType-Exact/Partial: Type whether the name you entered was an exact or partial match type.

    • Exact match: You can include the exact name or acronym (for example, Contoso or ATL).
    • Partial match: You can exclude all topics that have a specific word in it. For example, arc will exclude all topics with the word arc in it, such as Arc circle, Plasma arc welding, or Training arc. Note that it will not exclude topics in which the text is included as part of a word, such as Architecture.
  • Stands for (optional): (Also known as expansion) If you want to exclude an acronym, type the words the acronym stands for.

    Exclude topics in CSV template.

You can copy the csv template:

Name (required),Expansion,MatchType- Exact/Partial (required)


When you set up Topics, as part of the setup process, a topic center is automatically created. Think about what you want to name the topic center and what you want the URL to be. You can set both the name and URL as part of the setup process, and you can change the name (but not URL) later in the Microsoft 365 admin center. You can only have one topic center.

Setup checklist

When you set up topic experiences, you'll need the following items as you go through the setup wizard:

  • List of sites to include or exclude if not including all sites for topic discovery
  • Security group for topic viewers if not allowing all users to view topics
  • Security group for topic contributors if not allowing all users to create and edit topics
  • Security group for topic knowledge managers if not allowing all users to manage topics
  • List of sensitive topics to exclude from topic discovery
  • A name for your topic center site