New SharePoint Feature – Easy SharePoint Column Formatting

At the beginning of 2018, Microsoft announced a column formatting feature for columns within modern SharePoint lists and libraries. You could apply SharePoint column formatting to different column types to highlight key business data within your organization’s SharePoint tenant. The SharePoint Column Formatting included icons, data bars, colours and fonts, and vector images that could be displayed based upon a condition. For example, if you have an overdue task, the task could be highlighted in Red, or have a red icon next to the date value. The downside was that this was all achieved using JSON! Writing JSON code is not part of every Site Owners skillset however, so a Microsoft MVP called Chris Kent came to the rescue with the Column Formatter. You can read more about all of that here: https://lightningtools.com/sharepoint/sharepoint-column-formatting

So, what has changed? Well, at Microsoft Ignite, Naomi Moneypenny was demonstrating some of the features that would be arriving to our SharePoint tenants. One of those feature was a user interface for column formatting within SharePoint. Now, you can easily apply conditional formatting to a column to make data stand out that matches a condition. In the below example, you’ll see a list of contacts from multiple departments. Since the department is a choice field, I can easily apply formatting to each department.

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Contacts list with multiple departments for each contact

Using conditional formatting, I’ll apply a colour to each choice field value by selecting the column header drop-down, column settings, Format this Column.

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Applying Column Formatting

This feature isn’t (at the time of writing) available on every type of field. I have found so far, that it is only available for Choice Fields and Date Fields. Any other field types can still benefit from SharePoint Column Formatting, but by using JSON.

To edit the color choices, click “Edit Template”. Using the color palette, you can select a back ground color to be applied to each choice.

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Editing the SharePoint Column Formatting Template

If you do wish to use JSON, you can get started by applying your color formatting to the column, and then clicking the Advanced Mode link. The JSON will then be displayed, and you can make your alterations.

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Using JSON to apply SharePoint Column Formatting

Notice, that the same type of SharePoint Column Formatting can be applied to Date fields, with formatting applied to “before today”, “is today”, and “after today”.

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Applying SharePoint Conditional Formatting to a Date Column.

There are some lists that are not yet available as Modern lists such as Task lists. Therefore the column formatting cannot be applied to this list type, but hopefully that is a feature that will arrive soon.

Using the Lightning Conductor from Lightning Tools, you can also apply column formatting and view formatting to content that is aggregated across multiple lists.

Applying SharePoint Column Formatting to aggregated content including conditional icons, data bars, color formatting and more.

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