Creating a Discussion List item using Outlook

When you connect your Outlook to a Discussion List on SharePoint, it creates a section in Outlook’s Mail tab such as the one shown below.


Unlike your email inbox, you won’t be able to delete or move any posts from the Discussion List, so for those of us who don’t like the bold numbers next to folders, you may want to right-click the Discussion List name and choose Mark All as Read so that the numbers disappear. Then, as new items come in, you will see them there.

Outlook SharePoint Lists - right-click menu: Mark all as Read

You can also send posts directly from Outlook by clicking on New Post.

Outlook SharePoint Lists - New Post

Just as an email, you can add images and attachments into your New Post.

However, if you want to make edits to your post, you won’t be able to do that in Outlook, so you can do that that by double-clicking on your post to open it, and then choosing Open in Browser.

Outlook SharePoint Lists - Open in Browser

From there, you can click on Edit Item. Make your edits to the post, and then click Save.

Outlook SharePoint Lists - Edit Item

Note – you can only edit your own posts, not other people’s.


Send calendar updates to your inbox

If you’re using a central SharePoint calendar for your business, it is often the go-to for your people. You can post meetings, leadership open office hours, events, functions, etc. You can also use them to administrative deadlines.

As with Discussions and Announcements, you can choose to receive an email when new calendar items are added.

In order to set up an alert, activate the Calendar to where you have a page that only shows the calendar. Above the site logo are several tabs.

  • Click on the CALENDAR tab
  • Choose Alert Me
  • Set an Alert on this list

From the New Alert screen, I recommend that you add the site name in front of the title so that it appears in the subject line of your email.

Change Type: If you choose immediate notifications, I recommend you choose New items are added rather than All Changes.

When to Send Alerts: Choose your preferred option. For daily or weekly notifications, I recommend you set your time and day outside of normal working hours so you get a full day or week worth of changes at once.

Stripping underscores on a page

​​When creating a new page, the title is the same as the file name.
As of this date, there currently is no way to split file name from page title.
It’s important that we do not include spaces in a file name, and that we instead use underscores.
Unfortunately, with underscores, we have a strange looking page title that includes underscores, which we can strip using a content editor web part.

This is what the title of this page would look like without the underscores stripped:

Page Head with Underscores

Check out the page, and place in EDIT mode.

In the footer of the page, or at the bottom of your site content, insert a Content Editor webpart.

You can find the Content Editor web part under the Media and Content category.

Insert Content Editor Web Part

Click on the little triangle in the top right hand corner of the web part, and choose Edit Web Part.

In the Content Link box, copy and paste the following:


Content Editor Javascript Strip Underscores

Under the Appearance drop down, choose Chrome Style of NONE.
Then click OK and SAVE the page.

Content Editor Chrome None

Create a calculated field to show due dates first

When viewing task lists ordered by due date, often the tasks with no due dates appear at the top of the list, while the items that have a due date appear at the bottom. Sorting the list in descending order doesn’t help either, because then your items that are due soon will appear in the middle of the list.

There doesn’t appear to be an out of the box setting that will display items with a due date first, followed by those without one, so we get around this by using a calculated field column within the list settings.

Click on the List tab, then on List Settings

SharePoint: List Settings

Scroll to the middle of the page and add a new column. Give that column a name, such as HasDueDate

Choose for this column to be a calculated field and use the following formula in the formula field:

=IF(ISBLANK([Due Date]),”No”,”Yes”)

Calculated field: hasduedate

Save the column.

Sorting your list to include this new HasDueDate column.

The next step is to add this field to the sorting options on your list view.

SharePoint: Modify View

Scroll to the middle of the page, where the sorting options are, and choose HasDueDate from the first column option; then set that to descending order (you want “Yes” to come before “No”).

In the second sort column, choose Due Date in ascending order.

Now your list will always sort with the due dates first, in ascending order.

Standard and friendly date views

This tip applies mostly to task lists, but also applies to document libraries.

It is standard for SharePoint Online to present dates in a friendly format, such as Sunday, or February 15, Yesterday or Tomorrow.
SharePoint: friendly dates

Some people prefer to just see the dates themselves and don’t like seeing the friendly dates.

SharePoint: standard date

Here’s how you go about changing that.

Go to click on the LIST tab and click on list settings (in a library you would go to the library tab and then library settings.)

SharePoint: List Settings

Scroll to about the middle of the page to where the list of columns are, and click on the date field you want to change.

About midway down the settings screen you will see Display Format.

SharePoint: Standard / Friendly Date option

Change this setting as you need to, to set it to Standard or Friendly format.

Then choose SAVE

Adding a new color scheme to your site

This tutorial contains the steps for adding a color scheme to your team site. Our custom color just happens to be called DSA Hokie.

Web Designer Galleries

  1. To add the DSA Hokie color scheme, first go to the gear and choose Site Settings
  2. Under Web Designer Galleries, choose Composed Looks
  3. Click on new item

Complete the information as follows:

  • Title: DSA Hokie
  • Name: DSA Hokie
  • Master Page URL: /sites/dsa/base_public/_catalogs/masterpage/seattle.master
    • replace dsa/base_public with your site’s URL
  • Theme URL: /sites/dsa/_catalogs/theme/15/DSA_Hokie.spcolor
  • Image URL:
  • Font Scheme URL:
  • Display Order: 5

Composed Looks List

Now that you have created the color palette, now add it to your site.

  1. Go to the gear, then choose Change the Look
  2. Choose DSA Hokie, then Try it out
  3. Once you see the preview, then choose Yes, keep it

Excel: Data Manipulation – Find & Replace and Text to Columns

Data manipulation seems to be an almost daily occurrence for me. Well, maybe not daily, but I do it so often that I don’t even think about it anymore.

IT is supposed to be this always-working, man-behind-the-curtain magical thing, and while it works – it’s awesome. When it doesn’t work, however, we’re stuck either working around it, or fixing it.

The other day someone sent me an email address list in the body of an email. Well, it never came across, so I had the person put it into a Word Document and send me that.

What I didn’t know, was that the Word Document now contained a table. Oh well – copy and paste that into an Excel sheet, and it did just fine.

Now, I had an email address in the left hand column, and then I had a full name surrounded by (parentheses). Why??

OK, so now I have (Mickey Mouse) in my Excel file

First I need to remove the parentheses. How would we go about doing that?

Well, I could have used Text-to-Column but in this case I just used Find and Replace. (Ctrl+H) is the keyboard shortcut for that.

Find and Replace

I had to look for the actual ribbon controls, which are under the Home tab, in the Editing section. Click Find & Select, then Replace.

Enter the ( character in the Find What, and leave Replace With blank so that it will just remove the character from your text. Click “Replace All” to remove all the parentheses. Then do Find & Select and Replace again, and enter the ) character in the Find What.

Text to Column

A lot of the time, I need to split the full name into two columns, with first and last name. One of the easiest ways I know to do that is to use the Text to Column feature, which  you find under the Data tab.

On the first Wizard screen, choose Delimited. On the second screen, add a checkbox for “Space”.
Note how the preview splits out Mickey from Mouse? That’s what you want.

Now this is not foolproof, because if there are middle names, or a surname that contains a space, you need to clean up the data. You could do that using the Filter feature if you have a large list, or you can eyeball it if the list is fairly small.

In looking up this blog, I realized I haven’t done any posts on Filters yet. Shame on me! I’ll spend some time in the next few posts on what to do with Filters. They are incredibly powerful and I use them often.