Assign People to a Task

Applies to

  • Pro
  • Business
  • Enterprise


Who can use this capability

To add or modify a column, you must be the sheet Owner or be shared to the sheet with Admin-level sharing permissions. You must also have a Smartsheet license. For more information about sharing, see Sharing Permission Levels. Not sure whether you have a license? See Identify Your Smartsheet Plan and User Type.

In Smartsheet, you can use the Contact List column type to assign tasks to team members. You can also use this column to generate reports of tasks across multiple sheets assigned to specific team members.

Set up a contact list column for assignment

To assign people to tasks on your sheet, the sheet must contain a Contact List column. If it doesn't Contact List column, you can insert one using the following steps:

  1. Right click on any column name and select Insert Column Right or Insert Column Left.

    The New Column window appears.
  2. Type the name of the column in the Name box (for example, type "Assigned To").
  3. Select the Contact List column type.

    If you have tasks that need to be assigned to multiple people, check Allow multiple contacts per cell

    In the mobile application, you'll be able to add one or more contacts to a Contact List column depending on which option was set on the web application; however, you can't set this option from the mobile app.

    To make certain people easier to add to contact cells in the sheet, you can type a list of preferred contacts into the Add Contacts box —the people that you specify here will appear when you click the dropdown arrow in a cell. 

  4. Click OK.

That's it! The Contact List column is inserted into your sheet. Now you can assign people to tasks.


  • You can create filters or build reports to see all of the tasks assigned to specific team members. See Viewing Your Assigned Tasks to learn how to do this.
  • Insert multiple Contact List columns when people have different roles related to each task. 
  • You can build alerts to automatically send notifications and requests to people who are assigned to tasks. See Automate Your Work with Alerts and Actions for more information.
  • As long as a Contact List field isn't being used for resource management, you can build a formula which automatically assigns people to tasks based on conditions. For example, assign a department head to a task that needs their approval with an INDEX and MATCH formula. More information building formulas is available in Create and Edit Formulas in Smartsheet and Formula combinations for cross sheet references.
  • You can also use workflows to add contacts to a cell automatically. See Assign People in an Automated Workflow for more information.

Assign tasks to multiple people

If you want multiple people to work on a task, set up your Contact List column to Allow multiple contacts per cell.  

Once the column is set up, type the name of an existing contact into a cell to display a list of matching contacts then select the desired contact to add them to the list of contacts assigned to the task.

Keep the following in mind when working with multiple contacts in a cell:

  • Each contact must be associated with an email address. If you enter the name of a new contact into a cell, you’ll be prompted to enter their email address as well.
  • You can add up to 20 contacts per cell.
  • Columns with multiple contacts cannot be used for grouping in a report. See Configure grouping to organize results in report builder.

Restrict assignment to a single contact

When a task should only be assigned to one person, restrict the Contact Column to a single contact by leaving Allow multiple contacts per cell unchecked. For example, with an Approval Request, you'll want to ensure that only one person, such as the manager, approves each step in the process to ensure multiple contacts do not overwrite each other's approvals.


Manage which contacts appear when you type in a cell

When you type a name or email address in a Contact List column, the names that are displayed will include the following:

  • Any preferred contact values that you’ve set up in the Column Properties window.
  • All collaborators shared to the sheet.
  • Any other contacts or email addresses that have been assigned to other rows in the sheet.
  • People in your personal Smartsheet contacts list. (More information on this is available here.)
  • If you're a part of a Business or Enterprise account, other people that are in the account. (More information on User Management is available here.)

Add contacts to the autosuggest picker

If you start typing a name or email address and aren't seeing the contact list autosuggest, then your contact list doesn't include a contact matching what you've typed. To add them to your Contact List column, click the dropdown arrow in the cell then select Add New to add the contact name and email address to your list and assign them to the row. You can also edit the column properties to add them to the preferred contact values.

sally smart add new

Remove duplicate contacts from the contact list

You will occasionally see duplicate contacts when you type a name or email address into a cell. To remove names or email addresses from the contact list, remove them from the preferred contact values and other cells in the column. 

If you still see duplicate contact values, it’s possible the name you’ve set up for the contact in your personal Smartsheet Contacts does not match the name they’ve associated with their Personal Profile. See Manage Contacts in the My Smartsheet Contacts List and Manage Your Personal Profile to ensure the name in your contacts matches the name on their profile.

You won’t be able to remove shared collaborators from the contact list.