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Microsoft Outlook Conditional Email Formatting

Regardless of the line of business you’re in, email has got you covered. This amazing technology, now decades old, enables you to send messages around the world within seconds. Whether from a smartphone or a laptop, you can use email to conduct business from your living room or office and literally anywhere in between. Emails can handle different business communication, including announcements, contracts, billing, ordering, and more.

According to Statista, 319.6 billion emails were sent and received in 2021. This goes to show just how popular email communication is. That said, given the large volumes of emails sent and received daily, it can be challenging to identify emails from important contacts. And that’s where conditional email formatting comes in. In this post, we’ll guide you on how to conditionally format emails with Microsoft Outlook.

What Is Conditional Email Formatting?

Conditional email formatting is a technique used to make emails meet defined conditions to make them stand out in terms of color, font, or style in the email list. You will basically define the conditions that incoming emails must meet. In other words, conditional formatting enables you to customize how emails will appear in your inbox message list based on the criteria you set.

For instance, a conditional formatting rule may mandate that messages sent from your supervisor appear in green text. This way, you can easily identify emails sent to you by your supervisor.

Conditional Formatting Basics

After opening Microsoft Outlook,

  1. You should first press the View tab on the Ribbon
  2. Select Current View
  3. The View Settings dialogue will pop up
  4. Choose the Conditional Formatting that you desire to use
  5. Click Add (since we are creating a brand new format)
  6. Name your formatting rule
  7. Click on Font (to specify your preferred font style)
  8. Select the style, size, or color options that you prefer
  9. Click OK
  10. Click Condition
  11. Type in the email address of the sender(s) you wish to highlight. In the case of multiple senders, you should separate the email addresses of the senders using a semicolon. And suppose all the emails are from a particular company with a unique domain name; you should use @domainname.com. For instance, Palindrome Consulting would be @palindromeconsulting.com.
  12. Then select OK.

Conditional Formatting Tips and Tricks

Just like with any other “more complex” Microsoft Outlook attributes, the conditional formatting feature may at times fail to produce the expected results.

Here are some tips and tricks that can help you have a better grasp of how the Conditional Formatting feature functions:

  • The conditional formatting rules can be sorted out using the “Move Down” and “Move Up” buttons. Rules that are higher on the list are superior to those located lower on the list. The formatting of a higher listed rule can be appended by a lower listed rule if the formatting isn’t defined. For example, suppose the font color is set to “Auto” in a higher listed rule; the color of the lower listed rule will apply. Nonetheless, if the color of the higher listed rule is defined, the color of the lower listed rule won’t override it.
  • Specifying the names of recipients and senders in a Conditional Formatting rule can be challenging. You should keep in mind that the name should exactly match the one displayed in the “From” field of the message. Ideally, you should refer to the email address when creating the rule. Suppose you’re in an exchange environment, you can basically include the names as they’ve been listed in the company’s global address book.
  • In case the rule doesn’t bring forth the results you expected it to upon creating it, you should try to isolate or even get rid of statements to determine where things went wrong.
  • Avoid adding too much color to your mailbox lest you lose the organizing effect that comes with conditional formatting.

Conditional Formatting Examples

Here is an outline of a few conditional formatting examples:

Color Coding Messages Coming From a Specific Sender

  1. After opening the Conditional Formatting dialog box, create a new rule, name the rule, specify the font and style, and then press the Condition button.
  2. In the “From” field, insert the email address of the sender.
  3. Close the Filter dialog by clicking OK.
  4. Close the Conditional Formatting dialog by clicking OK. Upon doing this, the rule you set will apply to all messages already received that correspond to it.

Color Coding Messages Sent to a Specific Email Address

  1. Upon opening the Conditional Formatting dialog, create a new rule, name the rule, specify the style and font, and then click on the Condition button.
  2. Add the recipient’s email address in the “Sent” field.
  3. Close the Filter dialog by clicking OK.
  4. Close the Conditional Formatting dialog by clicking OK. The rule you will apply immediately applies to all the messages received that correspond with it.

Color Coding Messages by Words in the Message

  1. Upon opening the Conditional Formatting Dialog, add a new rule, name the rule, specify the style and font, and then click on the Condition button.
  2. Add the phrase Conditional Formatting in the “Search for Words” field.
  3. On the “In” dropdown list, specify whether to look in the common email fields, Subject, or Subject and Body.
  4. Close the Filter dialog by clicking OK.
  5. Close the Conditional Formatting dialog by clicking OK. The rule you created will immediately apply to all received messages that correspond with it.

Color Coding Messages by Category

  1. After you’ve opened the Conditional Formatting dialog, create a new rule, name the rule, specify the style and font, and then press the Condition button.
  2. Click the More Choices tab.
  3. Click the Categories button.
  4. Choose the Categories you want the Conditional Formatting to apply to, and then press OK.
  5. Close the Filter dialog by clicking OK.
  6. Close the Conditional Formatting dialog by clicking OK. The rule you created will immediately apply to all messages that have already been received that correspond to it.

In Conclusion

Email is an essential business communication tool. But to fully leverage its power, it’s crucial that you know how to manipulate various features of Microsoft Outlook. Contact Palindrome Consulting to learn more about how you can use Microsoft Outlook to increase the efficiency of communication in your organization.

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