Color formatting not working for all appointments

To my Calendar, I have added some Conditional Formatting rules to more easily see if I need to travel to a meeting or not (based on the Location field).

I noticed that this Conditional Formatting does work for some of my appointments/meetings but not all.

Why is this and how can I make this work?

Conditional Formatting (which was called Automatic Formatting in previous versions of Outlook) does not work when there is a category assigned to the item.

Since Outlook 2007, Calendar items are color coded in the following way;

  1. If there is a category assigned to the calendar item, then the item will have the color of that category.
  2. If there are multiple categories assigned to the calendar item, then the color of the category that was assigned last will be used.
  3. If no category was assigned to the calendar item, then Conditional/Automatic formatting rules are used to determine the color.

Note: The Conditional Formatting/Automatic Formatting option can be found here;

  • Outlook 2007 and previous
    View-> Current View-> Customize Current View…-> button Automatic Formatting
  • Outlook 2010
    tab View-> button View Settings-> button Conditional Formatting


Sadly, this is a situation for which there is no good solution since Outlook simply does not provide an option to overrule the order of color assignment. The following workarounds could help in some cases;

  • Remove the categories from your calendar items and only rely on Conditional Formatting.
  • Solely use categories to color code you calendar items. For incoming meetings, you can automatically assign categories based on a select criteria (sadly, Location isn’t one of them). To make sure that the rule only applies to calendar items, you can use the message rule condition “which is a meeting invitation or update”.
  • Create a (filtered) list view. As the category color coding only applies to the calendar view, changing your view to a list view will make sure that the conditional formatting works properly again. You can then change your view when you need it and change it back to the Day/Week/Month view afterwards.
    You can apply a filter to the view so that it will only display items that will happen in the upcoming week; Time: Starts in the next 7 days
    To change your view to a list view use;
    • Outlook 2007 and previous
      View-> Current View-> All Appointments
    • Outlook 2010
      tab View-> Change View-> List