Apply formatting automatically with conditional formatting rules

Applies to

  • Pro
  • Business
  • Enterprise


Who can use this capability

To create or modify conditional formatting rules, you must be the sheet Owner or have Admin-level sharing access to the sheet. A license is required.

Use conditional formatting to change the appearance of rows or cells based on the values they contain. For example, you can set an overdue task to appear in red. 

Conditional formatting doesn’t change cell values. To change cell values based on criteria, use a formula. For more information about formulas, see Create and Edit Formulas in Smartsheet.

Conditional formatting from linked cells is not preserved in the destination sheet.

There are three steps to applying conditional formatting:

  1. Set conditions for the rule.
  2. Define the format applied when the conditions are met.
  3. Set where you want the format applied.

Set conditions for the rule

  1. On the top toolbar, select Conditional Formatting Conditional formatting icon .
  2. Select Add New Rule
  3. Select <set condition>.
    A screenshot of the Conditional Formatting dialog
    The condition determines what triggers the formatting change. For example, to apply a background color to all rows assigned to a specific person, select the column named Assigned To in the left pane and the specific person in the right pane.

Things to know about setting conditions 

  • Available criteria depend on the column type.
    • For a checkbox column: The criteria would be Checked or Unchecked.
    • For a date column: It might be in the past or in the next [x] days.
  • Smartsheet looks at the numbers in a column formatted for percentage (for example, a % Complete column) as values between 0 and 1. Use decimal values (examples: 0.25 for 25%, 0.5 for 50%) to get the correct comparison.  
  • To further customize your rule, select define custom criteria at the top of the criteria box. 
  • To format rows that do not meet your criteria, select Apply format when condition is NOT met.

Define the format

Set up the text format you want to appear when the row meets the conditions you identified. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. In the Conditional Formatting dialog, select this format
  2. Use the pop-up box to style your formatting:
    • Font: Choose a font style.
    • Font Size: Set up the text size. 
    • Task Bar: If you have a Gantt chart, use this to automatically change the task bar color when the row meets the conditions you identified.
      The color(s) you choose here will be applied to the Gantt and calendar bars. 
    • Other formatting buttons: Set up the text formats you want to appear. 
      formatting options

Set where you want the format applied

  1. By default, the format applies to the entire row. To change this, select entire row, and then select the column(s) where you want to apply the formula. An image of the conditional rule
    If multiple rules have the same condition and formatting, Smartsheet consolidates them into a single rule.
  2. To close the Conditional Formatting dialog, select OK.