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MPUG Tip – Apply Conditional Cell Background Formatting for New Tasks Added through Change Control

“People ask if there’s any kind of conditional formatting in Microsoft Project the way there is in Excel and the reason that folks ask this question is because Microsoft Project behaves in many ways like Excel and it looks like Excel, there’s gotta be conditional formatting.” Watch this video to find out what kind of conditional formatting you can do with Project!

Take a look at our other quick and easy MPUG tips from Dale. Have a suggestion for a tip or a how to? Let us know.

Written by Dale Howard

Dale Howard is the Director of Education for Sensei Project Solutions.  He is in his 15th year of serving as a Microsoft Project MVP (Most Valuable Professional) and is currently one of only 39 Microsoft Project MVPs in the entire world. Dale is the co-author of 21 books on Microsoft Project, Project Server, and Project Online. He works out of his home in Ellisville, Missouri (a west suburb of St. Louis).

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  1. Great presentation, used it right away to mark calculated Critical path tasks to a given task.

  2. Thanks Dale, I’ve found this very useful.

    Is there any way of adding multiple “marked” columns so more than two task types can be formatted?

    For example, I’d like to use light green to mark a “client contractor task”, light blue for a “sub contractor task” and no color for a “company task”. What I’ve found is inserting multiple “marked” columns auto populates the new column with the yes/no of the existing column and any changes are duplicated in both columns. The result is I’m unable to use different cell backgrounds for “client contractors” and “sub contractors”.

    Any thoughts or insight would be much appreciated.


  3. James — Good question. No, there is no way to use multiple Marked fields as you describe. The software only offers a single Marked field which you can use to format tasks. Sorry. Hope this helps.

  4. Questions for Conditional formatting. I’d like to have different background colors automatically populated for: Completed Tasks (GREEN); Late Tasks (RED); In Progress Tasks (YELLOW). How do I do these automatically?

  5. Brian —

    Short of writing a macro in VBA to do this for you, there is no built in method to force Microsoft Project to automatically display background colors for the situations you describe. As far as workarounds, you might try inserting the Status and Status Indicator columns in a task view, or try applying grouping using the Status column in a task view. Hope this helps.


  6. Dale,
    In the % Complete column, once a task is changed to 100%, is there a way for a cell background color to be added automatically? Like changing that cell background to green at 100%?

  7. Mike —

    Sorry, but no, this is not possible using the options available in the Text Styles dialog. Hope this helps.

  8. Is there a way to change the formatting of only the % complete bar within the gantt bar. I am trying to make it more visible…black

  9. Dan —

    If you want to change the % Complete bar for EVERY Gantt bar, double-click anywhere in the white part of the Gantt Chart pane. In the Bar Styles dialog, scroll down to the bottom of the dialog and select the Progress item. Change the Color of the Middle item to Black and then click OK. Hope this helps.


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