Conditional Formatting in Outlook 365: Organize Emails Professionally and Efficiently

Last Updated on August 28, 2023 by Amit Bansal

Email organization is vital for professionals who want to effectively manage their inboxes and streamline their workflow.

Microsoft Outlook offers a powerful feature called conditional formatting, which allows users to customize the appearance of incoming emails based on specific criteria.

By using conditional formatting, Outlook users can prioritize important emails, quickly identify specific senders and subjects, and reduce the time spent sifting through cluttered inboxes.

Conditional formatting in Outlook is highly customizable, enabling users to create rules that determine the appearance of emails based on sender, subject, and recipient information.

By modifying the colors, fonts, and other aspects of email appearance, users can maintain a well-organized inbox and enhance their overall productivity.

With a bit of practice and familiarity with the various settings, conditional formatting can become an invaluable tool for managing emails professionally.

Understanding Conditional Formatting in Outlook

In Outlook, conditional formatting is a useful feature that allows us to customize the appearance of our messages based on specific conditions.

By using color, fonts, and styles, we can make important messages stand out, ensuring that we can easily distinguish them in our inbox.

The first step in using conditional formatting in Outlook is to access it through View Settings.

Within the View tab, we can click on View Settings and then select Conditional Formatting.

This will open up a dialogue box with a set of default rules, as well as any rules we’ve previously created.

To create a new rule, we can simply click Add and give our rule a descriptive name.

After naming our rule, we need to define the conditions for which it will apply.

This can include criteria such as a sender’s name or email address, the subject of the email, or even the recipients of the message.

Once our conditions are set, we can customize the appearance by selecting the font, color, and size we wish to apply to messages that meet those conditions.

This way, we can easily identify important emails, those marked as unread, or messages from specific colleagues.

Conditional formatting in Outlook is not limited to just our inbox; it can be applied to any email folder, enabling us to stay organized and manage our messages more efficiently across the entire Microsoft 365 platform.

By utilizing conditional formatting in Outlook, we can save time and maintain a well-organized inbox, making it simpler to navigate and find important messages amidst the daily flood of incoming emails.

How to Access Conditional Formatting Settings

In order to access the conditional formatting settings in Outlook, we first need to navigate to the View tab.

This tab will allow us to modify the settings and customize the appearance of our emails.

Once we are on the View tab, we can find the View Settings option. This will open a new window called the Advanced View Settings Dialog Box.

This is where we will be able to modify the conditional formatting rules that will help us organize our emails more professionally.

In the Advanced View Settings Dialog Box, we will find the Conditional Formatting button.

By clicking on this button, we will open a window where we can view the existing rules, as well as create new ones, helping us categorize and prioritize our emails according to our specific requirements.

To create a new rule, click on the Add button, enter a name for the rule, and then proceed to set the desired conditions.

For example, we can change the font color for an email, based on its sender, subject, or recipients.

Remember to always save any changes made by clicking the OK button in each respective window.

By carefully setting up and fine-tuning your conditional formatting rules, we can turn our Outlook inbox into a well-organized and visually appealing tool that will help streamline our professional communication.

Creating Custom View Settings for Organizing Emails

We can use Outlook’s custom view settings to effectively organize emails, making it easier to identify important messages, and enable a more productive workflow.

One powerful feature in Outlook for accomplishing this is Conditional Formatting.

By applying colors, fonts, and other formatting based on specific email criteria, we can quickly distinguish high-priority messages from less important ones.

First, let’s navigate to the View settings. In Outlook, select the folder where you would like to apply the custom view settings, such as your Inbox.

From the View tab, click on View Settings in the Current View group.

This will open the Advanced View Settings window, which allows us to customize the folder view.

Now, within the Advanced View Settings window, let’s click on the “Conditional Formatting” button.

Here, we can create rules to change the appearance of incoming messages based on factors like sender, subject, or recipients.

To start, click on the “Add” button and enter a name for your new rule.

Next, select “Font” to choose the desired style, color, and font size for the messages meeting your rule’s criteria.

For example, let’s apply a red color and bold font to messages from a specific sender. Under “Color,” select “Red”, and check the “Bold” option.

Once the font has been configured, click on the “Condition” button to define the criteria for your rule.

In the From box, enter the email address or name of the sender whose messages you want to highlight.

It’s important to note that names should exactly match the full name that appears on messages you receive.

After specifying the condition, click “OK” in the Filter, Conditional Formatting, and Advanced View Settings dialog boxes.

This will apply the rule, automatically formatting the messages from the specified sender in red and bold.

Using Conditional Formatting, we can create multiple rules to organize emails based on various criteria such as keywords in the subject line or specific email recipients.

By doing so, our emails are much easier to navigate, allowing us to focus on what truly matters and ensuring a more efficient email management experience.

Criteria for Creating Rules

When it comes to organizing emails professionally in Outlook, we can leverage the power of conditional formatting and rules.

In this section, we will discuss various criteria for creating rules that can help us manage our inbox more efficiently.

First, let’s start by understanding the concept of rules. Rules are automated actions that are performed on incoming or existing emails based on specific conditions.

For example, a rule can move all emails containing specific words in the subject line to a designated folder.

Outlook allows us to set up various criteria for creating rules, making it easier to tailor our inbox organization to our specific needs.

One of the primary criteria we can use is the condition. A condition is a set of parameters that must be met for the rule to execute.

Outlook offers a wide array of conditions to choose from, such as checking who the email is from, whether it contains specific words in the subject or body, or if it was sent only to you.

When setting up a rule, we first need to select the desired condition(s).

Another essential element in creating rules is the name box. This refers to the sender’s name in the email.

It’s critical to ensure that the name entered in the name box matches the full name found on messages we receive.

Entering the correct name helps Outlook apply the rule to the right set of emails, avoiding any misplacements or errors in sorting.

In some cases, we might want to create rules based on the presence of specific words. Be it in the subject line or the email body, rules can search for particular words and execute actions accordingly.

It’s important to be precise with the chosen words, as this helps ensure that the rule applies only to relevant emails.

Another useful criteria is checking for attachments. We can create a rule that applies to emails containing attachments, which can help us separate important documents from regular messages.

It’s particularly helpful for professionals handling a large volume of file transfers through email.

Lastly, we can use the particular person’s criteria to sort emails based on the sender or recipient.

This can be helpful in managing emails from our boss, team members, or clients.

Rules based on the people involved in the email can assist us in organizing our inbox and prioritizing our response time based on the importance of the sender or recipient.

By understanding and utilizing these various criteria, we can create rules that effectively organize our emails in Outlook, making our inbox management a more professional and efficient experience.

Modifying Appearance of Emails

We understand the importance of organizing emails professionally to keep our inbox clean and visually appealing.

One great way to achieve this is by using conditional formatting in Outlook.

Through conditional formatting, we can automatically modify the appearance of emails based on specific criteria such as the sender, subject, or recipients.

Firstly, let’s discuss how to change the font color of incoming messages. Outlook allows you to automatically change the font color of incoming emails based on the sender.

For example, if you’d like to make emails from your manager stand out, you can set the font color to bold red.

To do this, simply click on “Conditional Formatting” and select the desired color like red, blue, or purple.

Moving on to fonts and styles, we can easily modify the appearance of emails by selecting different fonts and styles from the “Font” dropdown menu.

We can choose from various fonts and styles, such as bold or italic, to customize the appearance of incoming emails.

Outlook also enables us to create custom rules for specific senders, subjects, or recipients using conditional formatting.

Moreover, we can even color-code our emails, calendar items, and tasks automatically without manually assigning them a color category.

This gives us a clear and organized overview of our inbox, ensuring that important emails, events, or tasks are easily recognizable and are not lost among cluttered messages.

As a result, using the conditional formatting features in Outlook, we enhance the organization and visual appeal of our inbox.

By applying these custom font colors, styles, and color-coding, we can easily distinguish between various types of emails and efficiently manage our daily tasks.

Managing Received Emails with Conditional Formatting

In Outlook, managing received emails can be made more efficient with the use of conditional formatting.

This feature allows us to customize the appearance of incoming messages, making it easier to identify and categorize them.

We can apply different font styles, sizes, and colors to emails based on various conditions, such as sender, subject, or whether the message is sent directly to your email address.

One common use case for conditional formatting is to highlight unread emails in our inbox. By default, Outlook displays unread messages in a bold, blue font.

However, we can also adjust this format to our preference by going to any email folder, selecting View >> View Settings >> Conditional Formatting, and thereby modifying the “Unread Messages” rule as desired.

This way, we can quickly identify important emails that still need our attention.

Another useful application of conditional formatting is to color-code messages sent directly to our email address.

This can help us filter out emails that are part of a group conversation or where we are CC’d.

To create a new rule for highlighting messages sent only to you, follow the same steps to access the Conditional Formatting settings, click “Add,” and then provide a name for the new rule.

Under “Condition,” we can select “Sent To” and then choose “Only to Me.” Adjust the font color and style as needed, and then press “OK” to apply the rule and make these messages stand out in our inbox.

Conditional formatting can also be utilized to focus on messages coming from specific senders.

For instance, if we frequently receive important emails from a particular email address, we can create a rule to change the font color or style of those incoming messages.

This will enable us to quickly locate and prioritize these emails in our inbox. To implement this, we simply need to provide the sender’s email address while creating the new rule, and then adjust the formatting to our liking.

In conclusion, Outlook’s conditional formatting feature is an efficient tool for organizing and managing received emails.

By customizing the appearance of our inbox based on specific conditions, we can streamline our workflow and focus on the messages that truly matter.

Advanced Conditional Formatting with Folders and Categories

We understand the importance of keeping our Outlook inbox organized and efficient.

That’s why using advanced conditional formatting with folders and categories can greatly enhance our email management.

To begin with, let’s talk about how we can apply conditional formatting to our mail folders in Outlook.

This feature allows us to automatically color-code emails based on specific criteria, such as sender, subject, or recipient. Using these rules, we can quickly identify high-priority messages or group related emails together.

To set it up, click on the View tab, and then click on View Settings. From there, select “Conditional Formatting” and start creating custom rules based on our needs Automatically change incoming message colors and fonts based on sender ….

Categories, on the other hand, are a powerful Outlook feature that allows us to easily assign and organize emails, calendar items, contacts, and tasks using color-coding and custom labels.

By categorizing items, we can easily locate related content and keep our inbox orderly. Moreover, assigning categories is simple: just right-click on an email or other Outlook item, and choose “Categorize” from the context menu to apply the desired category.

Of course, Outlook also provides default folders for our emails, such as Inbox, Sent Items, and Deleted Items.

However, we can create custom folders tailored to our specific needs.

The same principle can be applied to the Contacts folder, where we can assign categories or directly apply conditional formatting to our contact list, making it easy to find contacts quickly based on certain conditions, like job title, or color code them for easy identification.

In conclusion, using advanced conditional formatting with folders and categories in Outlook will help us maintain a well-organized and efficient communication system.

So let’s make the most out of these powerful features and optimize our inbox for maximum productivity.

Refining Conditional Formatting with Color Codes

One of the most effective ways to organize emails professionally in Outlook is by refining conditional formatting with color codes.

This enables us to easily differentiate between various types of emails and prioritize our response accordingly.

Let’s walk through the process of applying specific color coding to our Outlook inbox.

First, we need to access the Conditional Formatting settings.

In Outlook, navigate to the View tab, and then click on “View Settings”. In the View Settings dialog box, click on “Conditional Formatting”.

Here, we can create rules that apply specific formatting to emails based on certain conditions.

To create a new rule, click on “Add”. Give our rule a name that represents the purpose of the formatting.

For example, if we want to highlight emails that require urgent attention, we could name the rule “Urgent Messages”.

Now, let’s decide on the formatting we want to apply. Click on “Font”, and a new dialog box opens where we can choose various font styles, sizes, and colors.

Here are some examples of color coding and formatting we can apply:

  • Red font: We can use red font to highlight urgent emails. To do this, simply choose “Red” under the Color option. This will apply the red font color to any email that meets the conditions of our rule.
  • Bold font: To emphasize certain emails, we can use bold font. Select “Bold” under the Style options. This will make the subject of the email stand out in bold text.
  • Blue and bold font: Combining two formatting styles, such as blue color and bold text, can help to differentiate emails with specific importance. For instance, we might use the blue and bold font for emails coming from our manager. Click on “Blue” under the Color section and “Bold” under the Style section to apply both formatting types.

Once we’ve set the desired formatting, click on “Condition” to define the criteria for applying our formatting rule.

Depending on the rule, we can set conditions based on the sender, subject, or recipients of the email.

Remember to click on “OK” in each dialog box to save our changes.

By refining the conditional formatting with color codes in Outlook, we can organize our emails professionally and make our inbox more efficient and easy to navigate.

Automatic Formatting Based on Email Type

In Outlook, we can organize our emails professionally by utilizing conditional formatting.

This feature allows us to make important messages stand out by changing their appearance based on specific conditions.

One useful way to apply automatic formatting is based on email type. For instance, we can easily differentiate between unread messages, expired emails, and overdue emails by applying different formatting styles.

Additionally, we can highlight subscription benefits, training courses, or meeting requests with distinct formatting to ensure they don’t get lost among other emails.

To set up automatic formatting for messages in Outlook, we go to any email folder, select View, then View Settings, and finally Conditional Formatting.

In the dialog box, we can add a new rule by clicking on Add, then provide a name for the rule and set the desired conditions.

For example, we may want to format unread messages in a bold, blue font to make it easier for us to identify new emails.

Likewise, we could establish a rule for expired emails that appear in strikethrough font, indicating that these messages are no longer relevant.

Overdue emails, such as those related to training courses or calendar events, can be color-coded or highlighted to grab our attention.

Utilizing conditional formatting also enhances the organization of our calendar and meetings.

For example, we might format our meeting requests with a different color or font, making it simpler to locate and prioritize them among other events.

Also, by applying various formatting rules to calendar items, we can easily distinguish between personal and professional appointments or identify which events are most significant.

In conclusion, automatic formatting based on email type offers a practical and efficient way for us to manage our inbox and calendar in Outlook.

By applying different formatting styles to messages and events based on specific conditions, we can achieve a more organized and professional email experience.

Conditional Formatting on Different Platforms

When it comes to organizing emails professionally, conditional formatting plays a vital role in many email clients, particularly in various versions of Microsoft Outlook.

We will cover some of the most common platforms where conditional formatting is applicable, such as Outlook 2010, Outlook for Microsoft 365, Outlook 2021, Outlook 2019, and Outlook 2016.

In Outlook 2010, using conditional formatting is fairly straightforward. To apply it, go to the “View” tab, click on “View Settings,” and then select “Conditional Formatting.”

Here, you can create rules with specific conditions, such as highlighting unread messages or emails from a particular sender.

You can find a similar process for setting up conditional formatting in Outlook for Microsoft 365Outlook 2021Outlook 2019, and Outlook 2016.

The user interface might have slight variations, but the overall process remains the same.

Microsoft Outlook offers great flexibility when it comes to customizing the appearance of emails based on specific conditions.

Not only can you change the font, color, and size of the emails, but you can also create multiple rules to apply different formatting styles simultaneously.

Additionally, conditional formatting can be applied to other items within Outlook, such as calendar events, tasks, and contacts.

As for Gmail, while it doesn’t have a built-in feature specifically for conditional formatting, it does offer multiple customization options for organizing emails.

You can use labels, filters, and stars to categorize and highlight important messages.

Although this isn’t as robust as Microsoft Outlook’s conditional formatting, it still provides users with a relatively effective way to organize their inbox.

In conclusion, conditional formatting is a helpful tool to have at your disposal for organizing emails professionally.

Whether you are using Microsoft Outlook or Gmail, understanding how to effectively utilize these features will improve your email management skills, ultimately leading to a more efficient and clutter-free inbox.

Final Tips and Tricks

When working in Outlook, it’s crucial to have an organized workspace to ensure efficient handling of emails and tasks. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is through conditional formatting.

By taking advantage of this feature, we can create a visually appealing inbox that allows us to identify essential messages more quickly.

We can apply conditional formatting to tasks, emails, and contacts to highlight important items and make it easier to locate specific information.

To customize the appearance of tasks, we can add color codes based on priority or due date. This customization can be incredibly helpful when planning holidays or managing a busy schedule.

Another useful Outlook feature is the search folder, which helps us quickly locate relevant emails based on specific criteria.

To make our search folders even more efficient, we can apply formatting rules, allowing us to color-code messages and make them more prominent in the list.

Sometimes, it may be necessary to convey feedback or specific information to our contacts in a well-structured email.

For this, we can format the message body with style elements like tables, bullet points, bold text, and more.

These formatting techniques can significantly improve the clarity of our messages, making them easier to read and understand.

The Organize pane in Outlook assists us in customizing our views based on preferences.

For example, we can access the dropdown list in the Organize pane to sort our messages, tasks, or contacts according to specific criteria.

Additionally, we can set conditional formatting rules directly from this pane.

Remember to always keep your sentences and paragraphs concise and well-structured for optimal readability.

A clear and organized message list will not only enhance our workflow but also help us stay on top of our daily tasks and communications.

By following these tips and tricks, we can take our Outlook experience to the next level and manage our work more professionally.


While it might seem daunting at first, with a bit of practice, you’ll find that conditional formatting not only simplifies your email management but also reduces the mental fatigue that often comes from sorting through an unorganized inbox.

Embracing these capabilities, you’ll elevate your email productivity and stay ahead in the game, ensuring you never miss an important message or deadline. Dive in, experiment with the settings, and soon enough, you’ll wonder how you ever managed your inbox without it.

Remember, in an age where time is often the most precious commodity, tools that save even a few minutes can be priceless. So, give conditional formatting in Outlook 365 a try, and let your inbox be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Safe emailing!

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Amit Bansal

Hello, my name is Amit Kumar Bansal, and I am the founder of Through this blog, I focus on Microsoft Outlook, offering insightful and informative content. Additionally, I produce educational videos on YouTube to further enhance the understanding of my audience. visit my YouTube Channel

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