Tips, Tricks & Other Helpful Hints: Adding color to Outlook message lists, other special formats

Adding Color to Outlook message lists or other special formats can be easily done.
Adding Color to Outlook message lists or other special formats can be easily done.

It can be helpful to have messages standout in your inbox so that they are easier to locate or notice. This can be done through conditional formatting.

When you create a conditional formatting rule, you can break the process into two parts: setting fonts and colors, and then setting conditions.

Setting fonts and colors for a rule
1. Go to the ribbon and click the "View" tab, then click "View Settings." That starts the "Advanced View Settings" dialog box.

2. Click "Conditional Formatting." That starts the "Conditional Formatting" dialog box.

3. Click "Add," and in the "Name" box, enter a name for the new rule.

4. Click "Font." That starts the "Font" dialog box.

5. Use the commands in the dialog box to select a new font, an effect such as strikeout or underline, a font color, a style such as bold, and a font size. The exact combinations of fonts, styles, and so on are up to you.

6. Click "OK" when you are done.

Setting the conditions for a rule
1. In the "Conditional Formatting" dialog box, click "Condition." That starts the "Filter" dialog box.

2. (Optional) On the "Messages" tab, in the "Search for the word(s)" box, enter the text you want the rule to find. Make sure you enter terms that exist in your mail messages, calendar, or other items.

NOTE: In this example, the terms are separated by commas. The commas apply a type of search logic called OR logic, which means the rule will act on items that contain any OR all of the terms you specify. For more information about using commas, see the next section.

3. (Optional) From the "In" list, select "Subject field and message body." That way, the rule searches the entire messages for the terms you enter.

4. (Optional) In the "From" field, enter the name or names of the people who send the messages you want to track. Again, enter names that actually exist in your mailbox, calendar, or tasks. You can use first names if you wish, but you must separate them with commas. For example, if you enter "Gwyneth," "Bruce" (separated by a comma), the rule acts on messages sent by Gwyneth or Bruce. But if you enter "Gwyneth Bruce," the rule assumes that is the sender's name, and you will probably get no results. It can be helpful to enter an address directly (

5. (Optional) Enter one or more names in the "Sent To" box.

6. (Optional) Select the "Where I am" check box and select an item from the list.

7. (Optional) Select an item from the "Time" lists, and then click "OK" to close all open dialog boxes.

Your rule takes effect after you close the dialog boxes. If you do not see any results, make sure your terms are spelled correctly, and you are searching for terms that exist in your inbox, calendar or other locations in Outlook.

These instructions were originally taken from

These instructions, along with illustrations and instructions for additional features of Conditional Formatting for Message Lists, can also be found in SharePoint > Software Users Group > Shared Documents > Outlook-Office 365 > Conditional Formatting for Message Lists.