SharePoint Tasks Basics

Office365 / SharePoint Blog

SharePoint is very commonly used as a tool for managing tasks. Who is doing what when, and why aren’t they finished?

In my previous job I used the SharePoint task list to manage the 300+ projects our department had going on at any given time. I found it most useful when I connected it to my Outlook.

While not all the fields from SharePoint come across, and nowadays I prefer to work on tasks in SharePoint, I was able to configure my outlook to show me the task list by individual, which made it very easy to discuss projects and tasks with each person during our collective and also our one-on-one meetings. It was especially gratifying to do a walk-through one day and find that every task had an owner, the next owner had been identified and was aware, and it was just so wonderful to know that everyone was on the same page…. Aaaah the memories… But I digress.

A number of your team sites already contain a task list. If they don’t, ask your site owner to add one.

Adding tasks to a task list

Click on “New task” in the Ribbon, or use the “Edit” button to add several new tasks at once. Simply fill in the form and click save. It’s that easy.


If the task list is so enabled, you may be able to assign predecessors to a task. Predecessors are tasks that must be completed before you start another task. If your aim is to create a Gantt chart view, predecessors will be important.
To set a task as a predecessor, create the preceding task first. Then, select that preceding task while creating the next task that succeeds it.

Just a note on predecessors. They really only make sense if you create a task list for a specific project. Sometimes teams work off one task list for all their projects and tasks, and in that case, the predecessor list gets pretty long and unusable.

If you do use a single task list for your team, you use another mechanism to sort your tasks by project, such as using a lookup project list, or a column with project names. If you create a task list for a specific project, then using predecessors make sense. Else, they pretty much can be ignored.


Predecessors are different from subtasks. Subtasks are tasks that are a part of an overall task. Cracking eggs is a subtask of baking a cake. Cracking eggs might also be a predecessor to mixing the batter. It’s your choice as to how to organize these.

Ordering Tasks

To create a subtask, select the subtask by clicking the check to the left of the task, and choosing “Indent” under the task tab. Click on Move Up and Move Down to position the task beneath the main task. Click on the Stop editing this list button when you are finished.
You can then hide or display these subtasks by clicking the triangle to the left of the main task.

I’m personally not a big fan of subtasks – partially because I cannot copy a task with subtasks to another set further down the list. It doesn’t appear to correctly format. Perhaps you will have better luck though, and can teach me a thing or two about using subtasks.


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