The Ultimate Guide to Setting Up Salesforce Knowledge

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Salesforce Knowledge gives you the ability to build out a comprehensive Knowledge Base (KB) inside of Salesforce to service your internal agents, partners and customers. A Knowledge Base is simply a collection of articles with relevant information about your products and services, to encourage a self-service model for your customers to solve their own queries, which leads to case deflection (and as a result, hiring less service agents, and increasing customer satisfaction).

As you probably know, Salesforce Lightning has “struck” almost everywhere, and Salesforce Knowledge is no exception. Lightning Knowledge is a major reworking of the Classic Knowledge features and is more than just a change in UI. This blog introduces you to the basics of Lightning Knowledge so you can plan your roll-out and know somethings to expect whether you’re migrating from Classic or rolling things out for the first time!

Key Points – What you need to know

Before we dive into the fun features of Lightning Knowledge, let’s knock out a few housekeeping items first that you’ll need to know.

1.  Lightning Knowledge Migrations from Classic Knowledge

If you’re currently using Classic knowledge, this article will certainly help you plan out and organize your Lightning Knowledge setup. However, there are a few more considerations that you need to be aware of if you’re migrating to Lightning Knowledge and not just implementing it fresh. These details go beyond the scope of this post, but if you are interested in a Lightning Knowledge Migration, Internet Creations can help get you started.

2.  Licensing

The licensing requirements for Knowledge are dependent on the edition of Salesforce you’re on and which clouds you have. For Essentials and Unlimited editions, Lightning Knowledge is available as a part of Service Cloud for no additional cost. For Professional, Enterprise, Performance, and Developer editions, Lightning Knowledge does have an additional cost associated. Contact your Salesforce Account Executive for more information on pricing.

3.  Access Considerations

The Lightning Knowledge data model is very different from the Classic Knowledge data model, so the access is also fairly different. In Lightning Knowledge, all articles are on a single Salesforce object called Knowledge (Knowledge__kav) by default (you can actually rename if you want, not just relabel!)

Different article types are kept as Record Types, like any other Salesforce object. For example, you may have an FAQ record type, a Troubleshooting record type, and a News record type for the different types of content you want to organize. We’ll discuss that in more detail later.

Since everything works like a normal Salesforce object, access is given in much the same way. Users can read, create, edit, and delete articles based on their Knowledge object permissions. The main thing that gets tricky are the special Lightning Knowledge User Permissions that primarily focus on Publishing, Archiving, and Translating draft article versions. For a detailed breakdown of these permissions, Salesforce Help has a great table summarizing the permissions and their purposes.

Content Management

The Knowledge Lifecycle and Versioning

Giving your team access to provide feedback either via chatter comments, ratings, or (for super users/authors) directly editing drafts is critical to ensuring your knowledge base is polished for your customers. The Knowledge Lifecycle is cyclical and stresses continuous improvements to content.

To support the Knowledge Lifecycle, Lightning Knowledge has version control, which is a new feature from the Classic model. Now, each article will have a Version number and when you need to make changes to a published article, you edit it as a new version and then publish it fresh. This lets you work on new content without impacting the published version that users see.

Salesforce also provides a convenient way to compare article versions with the Article Version Comparison component (in Beta as of the Spring ‘20 release).


Once you have your articles published, you have several channels to share them with. These channels are like audiences for your content — Internal users, Partners, Customers, and the general Public.


The internal channel is for internal users only. This is for content that your internal user base needs access to, such as company policies, onboards, internal Salesforce process documentation, etc.


Partner shares the content with partner licensed users within a Partner Community. This is good for content you need to share with your partners such as sales process guidelines, tips and tricks for selling, or product updates.


Along with Public, the Customer channel is one of the most popular channels because it is critical for customer self-service and case deflection. The customer channel shares content with users on a customer community license within a Customer Community. It’s great for customer-facing FAQ, troubleshooting articles, and step-by-step guides.


The Public channel is how you expose and share knowledge content with public (guest) users. This content can be shared on a public community page or site and is accessible to unauthenticated users. There are also Salesforce AppExchange Apps that let you expose public knowledge articles on non-Salesforce pages. Like with the Customer Channel, it can be a great way to empower customers to self-help and can assist with case deflection. For example, Internet Creations implemented a customized public knowledge base for Solarwinds MSP (formerly LOGICnow) which resulted in over 1000 cases deflected in a single month. You can also publish product announcements and marketing content to share with readers who may not be a customer yet.

Approval Processes

As with most Salesforce objects, you can create an approval process for articles. This is invaluable for controlling what content is published, especially if you have a public knowledge base and need to screen content for customer-facing articles. The approval processes for knowledge articles work more or less like any other, but there are special approval actions that are unique to knowledge — Knowledge Actions. For example, Publish as New publishes the article as a new version.

Knowledge Features


One feature of Salesforce Knowledge is the ability to let your users rate the content. In Classic Knowledge this was always a 1-5 star rating, but in Lightning Knowledge it’s a simpler thumbs-up or thumbs down rating system. (When migrating, 3,4,5 stars are converted to thumbs-up and 1,2 stars are thumbs-down). These voting buttons can be added or removed from pages as needed so you can control who can vote on what kinds of articles. For Lightning Pages, the Article Thumb Vote component gives users the voting options.

In a Salesforce community, the Allow Ratings is a setting on the Article Content component for the Article Detail page, which respects your community theme colors.

Data Categories

One of the critical features of Salesforce Knowledge is Data Categories and Data Category Groups. These are two major functions — article organization and article access. Data Categories allow you to organize your article content in a hierarchical way. They can also be grouped into Data Category Groups.

Let’s look at an example of how this could be structured — let’s say you have article content for your product information. You have several categories and subcategories of your products. You also have a global market and need to divide content regionally. Here’s how this could look with Knowledge Data Categories and Data Category Groups:

With this model, regions and subregions are hierarchical in the Region Data Category Group and product lines and specific categories of offerings are hierarchical in a separate Products Data Category Group. These Data Categories can now be assigned to articles to organize content by product and by region.

Another key feature of Data Categories is article access. Data Category visibility can be controlled via profiles and permission sets to ensure users only see knowledge content relevant to them. For example, maybe your Customer Community users have regional profiles. You can restrict their access to article content that is tagged with their region’s data category only so they aren’t seeing irrelevant articles in the knowledge base.

TIP: Data Category access is different from the normal object and record hierarchical sharing and access we’re typically used to as Salesforce admins. When you give a user access to a data category, they get access to all data categories up and down the branch, but no access to sibling branches. Furthermore, a user has to have access to all the data categories of an article in order to view it, not just one. Make sure you read over Salesforce documentation to understand access before rolling it out to your users.


Adding topics to articles lets you easily classify them based on content and provides easier searching within your knowledge base. Think of these like keywords. A single article can have a multitude of topics assigned depending on the content. (Just don’t over-assign topics because then searches could return irrelevant results).

Topics are different from Data Categories in that they don’t drive article access in any way and they are not hierarchical. They are primarily used to organize information within a knowledge base in a community.

Topics are assigned to articles in Content Management > Topics in the Salesforce community workspaces. There is also a setting to automatically assign topics based on certain data categories, which streamlines the tropic assignment of new articles and makes manual tagging more automated.

Case Deflection

With customer support teams feeling overwhelmed, Salesforce can help manage the high support volume and Knowledge is one of the methods. Exposing knowledge articles to your external and public users is a great way to deflect support cases from your service agents. A robust knowledge base will empower your customers to self-service rather than flooding your case queue with questions. Salesforce makes this even better by providing the Case Deflection component for communities.

The Case Deflection component lets your users submit cases but a right-hand panel recommends knowledge articles based on the text being typed into the case. The component also generates deflection metrics so you can see how effectively the component is working.

Using Apex with Knowledge

One final important feature of Knowledge is that it can have Apex triggers and be accessed through Apex code. In fact, there are standard apex classes relating to knowledge management that can be called in Apex for publishing, archiving, searching, and more. In Classic Knowledge this was more restrictive, but the Lightning Knowledge data architecture change included these development improvements. If you have a use case for development and Lightning Knowledge, Salesforce has more information in their developer guide.

Keep Learning!

Lightning Knowledge is just one facet of the Lightning. To learn more about the Lightning Experience you can check out some webinars and other blogs on the topic!

Why Lightning? Why Now?

Lightning Experience is the next generation of Salesforce. Take advantage of the new features in Lightning and learn why now is the right time for Salesforce Lightning.

Become a Master Lightning App Builder

Lightning Champion Benjamin Bratcher shows you why the Lightning App Builder is one of the best Lightning features!

The 6 Best Features for Customized Productivity in Lightning Experience

One of the major benefits of moving to Salesforce Lightning is increased productivity. The true magic behind the power is the customization. Learn about some of our favorite features!

3 Tips to Maximize In-App Guidance for Salesforce Lightning

Introducing the In-App Guidance for Lightning Experience which was part of Salesforce’s Winter 20 release.

Trailhead is another great place to get more training on Salesforce features and get hands on in a Trailhead org! Here’s a great place to start.

Knowledge Basics for Lightning Experience

Lightning Knowledge Setup and Customization

Set Up Salesforce Knowledge

Lightning Knowledge Migration

24 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Setting Up Salesforce Knowledge

  1. Very interessting article, thanks !

    By any chance do you have the same for Solution :p ?
    I have now a situation with a KB/Solution requirements, and basically I’m not sure what to suggest, how should I decide which solutions to use? Basically in this project we won’t create a community, it will be internal only by using the service console.

    Thx in advance!!

    1. Eric van Horssen


      Solutions, being the predecessor of Knowledge, is no longer being developed. Choose Knowledge in stead.

  2. Eric van Horssen


    Solutions, being the predecessor of Knowledge, is no longer being developed. Choose Knowledge in stead.

  3. It’s a great feature but due to limited reporting and validation options not yet mature enough for SMB. Hope the next release (Winter ’17) improves knowledge reporting (including the ability to query) and identical customization options to all the other objects within salesforce.

  4. Greate post for Salesforce professionals. Salesforce is too broad to explain in one post but you did it really beautifully. Licencing, channels, methods and payment terms are really important to understand for being Salesforce development professional.

  5. This is a great article and provides a very nice high level overview for those that are exploring this to determine the best knowledge management options available. Thank you!

  6. Can a App Subscription user have Knowledge tab to view? I gave all general permissions required for the user but still cannot have Knowledge Tab

  7. Hi Ben,

    Could you please share with us any link or Solution to apply Salesforce Knoweldge app in Lightning.
    Moreover, if you could please let me know how to Add Video as an Article in Salesforce Lightning.

    Thanks in advance

  8. Thanks for such a wonderful article.

    Could you please share with us any link or Solution to apply Salesforce Knoweldge app in Lightning.
    Moreover, if you could please let me know how to Add Video as an Article in Salesforce Lightning.


  9. We currently use Desk, which allows you to embed Google Docs into support/knowledge article using an iframe. Essentially, the Google Doc is the support/knowledge article.

    Using a Salesforce Knowledge article, is their a way to do something similar? It seems that the “source” option in a rich-text field does not support iframes. How can I embed a Google Doc into a Salesforce Knowledge article?

  10. Hi – nice article, I see the section about “creating articles from cases” but I’m having trouble finding exactly how this is done.

    In my org, I found in the Knowledge Settings area the option to “Allow users to create an article from a Case”. I have turned this option on but I’m not seeing any place on a Case where I have an option to create a Knowledge article. Any help on how this is done would be done without code would be great

  11. I have question. When user opens an published Knowledge Article in edit mode and then clicks on cancels without making any changes, a draft version of the article is created. Why so?

  12. Thanks for sharing this Ben. Really good article.

    Question for you: Do we need Content Management license (costs USD 10K/month), or is the Lightning Knowledge + Service Cloud license sufficient for managing and publishing articles?

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