Made easy: formatting columns in SharePoint lists and libraries in design mode

As announced at Ignite 2018, Microsoft is rolling out an easier way of formatting your lists and libraries columns. Until now you had to do this in Json script, which was very hard for end users or power users to do.

Luckily, Chris Kent has a great webpart to make it easier, but that still involved copying and pasting code around. Something that scares the beyeezus out of lots of people.

Now, Microsoft is making it easier: for certain column types, you can now just click around for the behavior you want. Only a few column types are supported today, but many more will follow in 2019.

So what can you do now?

Formatting options

The only option you have right now is to give the background a specific color (option to choose between 24 options) which have a direct impact on the way your list is looking.

What you can’t do right now without code, is changing the text color, linking to a Flow or show graphs. (Use the Chris Kent webpart for this one, or ask your IT peepz to handle this for your. There are also really good examples here.

Column types

Right now following column types are supported:

Choice field: For every choice you have in the list, a different color can be chosen. This means that you could set something red if the choice is set to “secret” or “important” . Multichoice is not showing anything, you can apply the formatting but which doesn’t show anything

formatting colors

Yes/No field: Simple, show this color if the value is no, show this color if the value is yes.

bool formatting

Date field: This one I have been looking for. The formatting here has 3 different choices: if the date is before today, on today or if the date is in the future. You can apply different colors for all the choices.

date formatting

Back end

You can only apply this “click through” formatting style via clicking on the column header and selecting “format this column”. You can’t do it in the list settings or from site columns. If you open the column settings via the list settings, you will only see the Json code generated. You can always change the code there, but you don’t have the visual helper here with you.

If you want to format the column too, there is the option to do this in design mode or advanced mode.


This is another great step forward in making the data that is in our list appear in a better, more insightful way. Although it is still in a first release, more options will be made available next year. In the mean time, if you need more or advanced ways of displaying a column or a row, there are a lot of examples that can get up to speed.

About: Marijn

Marijn Somers (MVP) has over 14 years experience in the SharePoint world, starting out with SP2007. Over the years the focus has grown to Office 365, with a focus on collaboration and document management. He is a business consultant at Balestra and Principal Content Provider for "Mijn 365 Coach" that offers dutch employee video training. His main work tracks are around user adoption, training and coaching and governance. He is also not afraid to dig deeper in the technicalities with PowerShell, adaptive cards or custom formatting in lists and libraries. You can listen to him on the biweekly "Office 365 Distilled" podcast.

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