In our previous blog, What are Microsoft Lists and how to use them: Part 1, we covered everything there is to know about this app designed for creating simple, intelligent, and flexible app that help teams within the organization to be up to date and have all the information at hand so they can organize their work much more effectively.
But, to fully utilize the potential of Microsoft Lists, one must know how to create, manage and govern them the right way. So, if you’d like to boost your team’s efficiency, this part ot this three-part blog series will help you out with that.
How to create a list from Lists app
Start at the Microsoft 365 App Launcher and click the Lists icon.
Then click Create a new list:
You’re presented with four options to create a list:
Creating a Microsoft List, option 1: Blank list
This is the option where you’re starting from scratch.
Click and you’ll be asked to give your list a:
- Color (consider color coding based on topics or use cases)
- Save to location
To add a value under a column, or to edit the columns, click +New:
You can now add a value and include any related attachments:
You can also click the dropdown to make changes to the list. Options include editing and adding columns, configuring layout, and customizing with Power Apps.
Below shows the types of columns that can be added:
Creating a Microsoft List, option 2: From Excel
You can either choose an Excel file on your device, or from OneDrive:
Before uploading, make sure your file has tables defined. Otherwise, the import won’t work. You can do this in just a few clicks:
- Open the file in Excel
- Select the cells you want to work with
- Click Format as Table
It’s that simple. After the import, the List will display in the same format as it is displayed in Excel.
Creating a Microsoft List, option 3: From an existing list
Click this option and you’ll be prompted to find a list from Microsoft Teams or from a site:
Creating a Microsoft List, option 4: From a template
Microsoft also offers a selection of ready-made templates.
Each template has been built to suit different situations within a typical organization. Your options include:
- Issue tracker
- Employee onboarding
- Event itinerary
- Asset manager
- Recruitment tracker
- Travel requests
- Work progress tracker
- Content scheduler
Click on the one that most closely matches your use case. Microsoft Lists will show you a preview to help you decide. When you’ve made your choice, click Use template (or click cancel if the template isn’t what you want).
After you’ve made your choice, you’re now ready to start customizing your list.
How to customize Microsoft Lists
However you want to present your data, you’ll find the tools to help you get the result you need. Whether that’s sorting data a particular way, formatting layouts, or organizing by specific Microsoft 365 groups or themes. First of all, let’s look at how to customize the view.
How to change the view of a list
Open your list, and click on the dropdown of Switch view options:
This gives you the options of:
The most common option. Choose this to view your information in a standard list, with data automatically sorted into rows and columns for easy scanning.
- Compact list
This is useful for smaller screens, or where you don’t need so much white space. You can still view all the data. It’s just that everything is, well, more compact.
As you may guess by the name, gallery is your go-to option when you want to present visual content. Just bear in mind that by spacing things out, more scrolling will be needed.
Use these options as a starting point. You can then do further customizations, by clicking Format current view.
Your options will vary depending on whether you choose List or Gallery view.
List view: How to edit current view
Here’s where you can make default changes to the view.
Click Switch view options and then click Edit current view.
You’ll see list editing options including:
- View name
- Web address of the view
- Editing which columns to display, and in which order
- Sorting to determine order that items are displayed
- Filtering to choose whether to show all items or subsets, plus options to speed up filtering when working with large (5,000+) lists of items
- Enabling view for mobile access
List view: How to format current view
You can format the row styles, so that alternating rows have different colors, fonts, and borders.
- Click the Format view tab and click Edit row styles:
- Click the font icon to style the odd rows or even rows:
- This gives you options to choose fill colors.
- Click more styles for more options to style your fonts:
- Under Format view and also if you click the Format columns tab, you’ll see Conditional formatting:
- This changes the formatting based on changes made to the data. For example, imagine you’re running a project with a series of jobs. Whenever a job is marked as complete in a list, you can set a rule that turns it into a different color:
To edit and format the Gallery view, follow the same process as with Lists.
Simply click Switch view options and then choose to edit or format the view.
How to save a view in Microsoft Lists
Imagine you’ve spent a lot of time formatting a list. Maybe you’ve added some if/then rules to save time when notifying people. You’ve now got a view that’s perfectly customized to your business needs.
To make sure your work doesn’t go to waste, click Save view as:
The next time you open Switch view options, the saved view is there for you. You can also set it to public view, for others to use.
How to insert a column in Microsoft Lists
To insert a column, hover between columns until the + sign appears, or click Add column:
How to work with Microsoft Lists
The Microsoft 365 app offers different ways to work with lists. The options will vary slightly depending on which of the options above you chose. Below are some common features you’ll be using.
How to edit an item in a list
- Hover over the item’s row or column and click in the circle:
- The item will now be a darker shade, showing it’s been selected.
- Click the three dots (the Actions):
- You have two options for editing items. Click Edit and you can make changes to the cell, as well as @mention someone regarding the item:
- Alternatively, click Edit in grid view and then click an item. You can then make edits and view in real-time how this affects the list’s appearance.
- In Edit in grid view, there’s easy access to Undo/Redo:
- Grid view is also useful when you want to edit the columns. Simply click the dropdown next to the title and then you can access additional column settings:
How to sort, filter & group data in Microsoft Lists
To view options for sorting, filtering, and grouping, click the dropdown in the title cell.
For advanced filtering, click the Filter icon. This shows filtering options based on the data in your list:
How to manage access & sharing in Microsoft Lists
To view details such as access and sharing, click the info icon:
Then click Manage access to see who has access, grant access, and view any links that give access.
How to extend the capabilities of a list
Along the top of Microsoft Lists you’ll see options to:
- Edit in grid view
Make changes within cells as you type.
Choose who can access the file, with options for editing, expiry and passwords.
Options to export to Excel or to CSV
Set reminders, create rules to take actions when list data changes
Integrate the list with Power Apps, Power Automate and Power BI
Click the three dots and you can set and manage alerts
How to create & manage rules in Microsoft Lists
First of all, here are the permissions for rules in the Microsoft Lists app:
- Users with edit permissions…
…can create and manage rules
- Users with read-only permissions…
…can’t create or manage rules
How to change user permissions in Microsoft Lists
Need to change the permissions to enable someone to manage rules? The list owner can do it in a few clicks:
- Open the list
- Click Settings > List settings > Advanced settings
- Next to Item-level permissions, and Read access, click Read all items
- Also, next to Item-level permissions, and Create and Edit access, click Create and edit all items:
How to create a rule in Microsoft Lists
Ok, now you’re ready to create a rule for a list.
It’s a simple two-stage procedure. First stage, you choose the condition that will trigger the rule. Second stage, you choose what action takes place as a result.
- Open the list where you want to set a rule
- Click Automate > Create a rule:
- You can now choose the condition that will trigger the rule. You’re given four options to notify someone when: a column changes, a column value changes, a new item is created, or an item is deleted
- Depending on your choice, you’re given different options for customizing the condition. Below asks you to choose the column, and then a condition (is/is not), and then a value, and then where to send the notification
- When you’re done, click Create
- That’s it! You can now manage this rule and any others, by clicking Automate > Manage rules:
- You can view current rules, toggle rules on and off, and create new rules (up to 15)
- Here’s where you can also create reminders. Just click Set a reminder and follow the prompts. For example, getting an email reminder with regards to date in a column:
How to make/create a list in Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Lists integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Teams and its almost 250 million monthly active users. Naturally, bringing a list to your team opens plenty of collaboration possibilities – at scale. Below you can find out how.
How to add a Lists tab in Microsoft Teams
Start by clicking + to add a tab in Teams:
Now you can search and click on the Lists icon:
Click Save, and Lists now appears as a tab:
You’re then invited to either:
- Create a list for the tab
- Add an existing list
More reasons to use Microsoft Lists in Microsoft Teams
You can make a comment in a list and @mention a colleague. The colleague receives a notification in Teams. They can click and be taken straight to the list and your comment – you don’t have to spend time explaining where to look.
You can also make use of the if/then rules in MS Teams. Any time a change is made to list data, create a rule to notify users in Teams.
How to share Microsoft Lists
The list resides on a SharePoint site, so security levels are inherited from SharePoint. That’s why sharing a Microsoft List is like when you create and share a SharePoint list.
For example, you can share from your Favorites or Recent lists. Just hover over the list and click the three dots to open actions and click Share:
You can also share from within the list:
After clicking Share, you’ll see the Microsoft 365 options for:
- Choosing who the link works for (from anyone to specific people)
- Allowing editing
- Setting expiration date
- Setting password
How to find & manage lists
With so much capability in Lists, it’s important to set up some best practices to get the most out of the Microsoft Lists app. Here are some recommendations:
Finding a list in Microsoft Lists
Open up Microsoft Lists and you’ll see a search bar at the top:
By default, Microsoft Lists will show your recent lists on the home page. You can click the dropdown to adjust this:
There’s also a filter option on the Microsoft Lists home page:
Favoriting lists in Microsoft Lists
Click the star on a list to add it to your Favorites:
Enabling versioning in Microsoft Lists
New versions can be added to an item’s history after changes are made. You can then view and recover previous versions of an item’s history.
- Open the list where you want to enable versioning
- Click Settings > List Settings
- Click versioning settings
- This gives you options to require approval for submitted items, create new versions every time items are edited, how many versions and drafts, and who can read, edit, and approve:
Now that you know how to create space for organizing your data and work effectively, it’s time to go to the next level, upgrade your Microsoft Lists game and fully take advantage of it by using it with other Microsoft 365 apps.
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