Posted on December 1, 2012|by: Ross Beurmann| 73 Comments

Applies to:  SharePoint 2010

Color Coded Calendar – How it Works

With SharePoint 2010, Microsoft has provided out of the box functionality to color code SharePoint calendars.  This is achieved using the Calendar Overlay feature which utilizes list views and calendar overlay views called New Calendars.  Prior to SharePoint 2010, if a user wanted to color code a calendar in SharePoint, a 3rd party tool would need to be purchased or code such as JQuery and/or JavaScript was required.

Limitations & Items to Note

Note the following limitations exist if using the Microsoft SharePoint out of the box color coded calendar:

  • Only ten color codes can be used (the tenth being automatically assigned by SharePoint).
  • The tenth color code must be associated with the calendarlist view where the calendar overlay views (New Calendars) are being applied. 
  • Color options are limited and cannot be changed.  Some colors look very similar.
  • Colors do not populate in Outlook if the list is connected to Outlook.

Color options:

Example Overview

Items in the calendar will be color coded based on their assigned category.  This example is using ten category choices in the Category column of a Calendar list:  category1, category2, category3, category4, category5, category6, category7, category7, category8, category9, category10.  Ten public list views will be created, with each view set to filter and display one of the ten category choices.  Finally the views will have all associating calendar overlay views (New Calendars) created to enabled color coding.

Create a Color Coded Calendar

To create a color coded calendar using the out of the box SharePoint Calendars Overlay feature, a Site Owner will need to:

     1.  Configure the default Calendar column, Category, with up to ten categories.
     2.  Create a view for each category entered (up to ten).
     3.  Create a New Calendar for each view created per category.

Step 1 – Add Category Selections

To assign color coding to calendar events by type, the default Category column requires modification.

A.  To modify the Category column, navigate to the Calendar to be modified.  Access its List Settings via the Ribbon, on the Calendar tab, select List Settings.

B.  In the Columns section, double-click the Category column to open and modify.

C.  In the Additional Column Settings section, input up to ten categories. 

Note:  More than ten categories can be entered, but only ten views can have colors assigned to them.

Step 2 – Create List Views

Create a Public view for each category type that was entered in Step 1 C.  Each view will have a filter applied to display only that specific category.

A.   Create the first new view.  Start from the existing Calendar view.

B.  Name the view for the first category type entered in Step 1 C and ensure it is a Public view.  Set the view’s filter to display only items that are assigned to the first category type, category1.  Select Ok to save and continue.

C.  Repeat Step 2 A – B as necessary for Category choices category2   category9 entered in Step 1 C.

D.  Lastly,create a view named calendaroverlay.  Set the calendaroverlay view as the list’s default view.  Set the view’s filter to display only items that are assigned to the Category type, category10.  Select Ok to save and continue.  Leave all other settings as they are.

Note:  As only nine color coding options are available using the calendar overlay views (New Calendar) feature, the tenth color code must be associated with the calendarlist view where the calendar overlay views (New Calendars) are being applied.  

Step 3 – Create the Calendars Overlay “New Calendars”

A.  Navigate back to the Calendar list.  Ensure the calendaroverlay view is displaying.  Access the Calendars Overly settings via the Ribbon, from the Calendar tab, select Calendars Overlay.

B.  In the Category Overlay settings, select New Calendar, to assign a color code to a category via the list views created in Step 2.  Note:  For each category type being assigned a color code, create a New Calendar and assign the appropriate category list view (up to nine).

C.  Name the New Calendar (In this example I am naming the Calendar Overlay New Calendars the same as their corresponding list views created in Step 2).  Next, select a color code, then input the web URL of the site the calendar is located on (i.e., or, etc.) and hit Resolve.
Note:  After hitting Resolve all Calendar lists in the site will now be available to select in the List drop down, and all list views per the selected calendarwill populate in the List View drop down. 

Finally, associate the Calendar Overlay New Calendar with its corresponding view created in Step 2.

D.  Repeat Step 3 B – C for the remaining eight calendar overlay views (New Calendar).  When complete, the list of Additional Calendars will display as below.

E.   The views being used to display the color coding are listed in the Quick Launch under Calendars in View.

Filed in: Technology, Tips & Tricks


  1. Eric Keener
    January 16, 2013 at 10:13 am

    How have you accomplished getting around the 10 color limit? Calc field and javascript? Do you know of any other ways to go it? Also, I read somewhere that if you change your site theme it can change those colors. I haven’t been able to get that to work. Have you?

    • Jennifer Hersko
      February 13, 2013 at 10:09 am

      I’ve never used JQuery (or other methods) to color code a SharePoint calendar, so I cannot speak to that. Using the 2010 out of the box calendar overlay feature, users with Full Control are limited to using 10 colors only. Changing the site theme does change the color selections available in the calendar overlary settings; as long as the site you are on is not set to inherit its site theme from its parent, when the site theme is changed, the color options in Calendar Overlay will change as well (to match the new theme).

  2. Monique
    February 8, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    I am obviously doing something wrong, because when I create an event (after following all of the above steps), it copies that event for every calendar view I have. So the same event, 9 times, one in each color. What am I doing wrong?

    • Jennifer Hersko
      February 13, 2013 at 10:29 am

      Following my example ensure you have the following:

      1) A “Category” Choice column in the Calendar List with 10 options.

      2) 10 new calendar items, each assigned a Category from your choice column.

      3) 10 Public views in your Calendar List, each filtered to display one Category option.

      *The 10th Public view should be called “Calendar Overlay” and should be set as your “default view”.

      **Create the Calendar Overlay Views from the Calendar Overlay View page.

      4) 10 “New Calendar” Overlay Calendars, each pointing to one of the 9 Public views.

      • Monique
        February 13, 2013 at 5:21 pm

        I finally got it! Thanks so much for your help. This is going to be really useful!

        • Jennifer Hersko
          February 14, 2013 at 3:49 pm

          Glad to hear you got it working!

          • Julie
            June 20, 2013 at 3:25 pm

            I only need to do this with 3 categories, and it’s creating duplicates. Does it have to be 10 categories?

          • June 21, 2013 at 1:29 pm

            If you are getting duplicate entries what is happening is your events are being logged on the host calendar and the sub calendar. You can get around this with a simple workflow that goes in and deletes the main calendar entry you will need an if statement for the sub calendars, pause until Master:Title is on the Sub Calendar then Delete the master calendar entry.

  3. Nicole
    March 8, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    I have my calendar overlay created and functioning properly….for the most part. One issue that occurs is when you select the event hyperlink to view the calendar form it opens in a new window instead of opening the typical/standard calendar form (shading out the background). Any ideas why this is happening or how to get around it?
    Thank you!

    • Herb
      August 29, 2013 at 1:50 pm

      Has anyone solve d this problem?

  4. Mike
    April 4, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks for the help, I tried this but maybe messed up something, now when I add an event to the calendar, it won’t show up at all!! However if I go to my calendar and click “current events”, I see all the test entries I did. The problem is they don’t show up on the calendar itself.

    Is there an easy way to default to start over?

  5. April 16, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    First I would check the calendar views you created. If it is not showing up in your views but is showing in current events a column you are using to filter on may not be filled out or is incorrectly filled out. To start over you would need to delete any non-default views you created as well as any calendar overlay views.

  6. May 7, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Thank you for having set this up for us. I’m now getting double entries but will re-check the steps to see where I messed up.
    Needless to say is I still feel it’s ridiculous how we need to go so far just to add some simples colours assigned to a Category…

    • May 30, 2013 at 9:20 am

      Roberto, the first time I set this up I got duplicate enteries as well, I created a “Main” calendar, and my overlays as “sub” calendars as in seperate lists, I put a drop down field in the main calendar that had the titles of the sub calendars. I created a workflow on the main calendar list that read the drop down, created an item on the sub calendar referenced in the drop down using the main calendar title, description, start and end times, then the workflow deleted the item off of the main calendar. Be sure to seperate your create and delete into seperate steps in your SPD workflow so that you can validate the item has made it onto the sub calendar properly. It took an else/if statement per calendar but once it was set-up the users found it to be easy to use. Make sure your sub calendar lists have the proper permissions for the users to view/edit items. You can use a Impersonation step for the create and delete permissions in the workflow.
      Hope this helps!

  7. Ann-Marie Doherty
    May 16, 2013 at 3:32 am

    Hi, I created a colour coded calendar on my site in 2007 sharepoint. Now we have moved to 2010, my colours are no longer available. I have searched for anyone mentioning this, but most posts relate to how to use calender overlay or start from scratch. I also have used the 2007 to 2010 online tutorials but this is not mentioned.
    Can you provide any help? I used PlanetWilson web part.

    • May 30, 2013 at 9:25 am

      Ann-Marie, it appears that your 3rd party web part did not upgrade with your SharePoint instance properly. Is the custom web part using javascript to color code based on properties in the calendar list? If this is the case, then there may be a little more work to do the 2010 overlays. Is there a property in your list that lets you know what color the events should be in? If so, I would create calendar lists per color and a workflow to place the right events into the right colored calendars. Once this is done the overlays in 2010 would need to be set-up on a host calendar. You can see my reply above to roberto for how to use one entry point to post events on the overlayed calendars and remove duplicates.
      Hope this helps!

  8. Cheryl Rohall
    June 10, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    I have my calendars set up in calendar overlay and color coded. My only problem is my font is white so the text is hard to read. Your example above has the text as grey or black. How do I get mine to change?

    • June 11, 2013 at 8:32 am

      Are you using a custom master page on the site? Have you modified the CSS at all? There are ways to change the font color but out of the box like the example Jenny posted, the font should be dark grey. If you have a custom masterpage, you can add a style to the calendar web part that will adjust the color of the font.

  9. John
    June 17, 2013 at 12:02 pm


    When I hit resolve, the list view does not display all the categories I have created, it only has ‘Calendar’ on the drop down. Please could you assist?

    Thank you,


    • June 18, 2013 at 12:27 pm

      Hey John,
      I hate to ask but did you type your URL in correctly for where the calendars were stored? Its crossed out in this post but is definitely needed for this to work. If you created the calendars on a sub site be sure to include the entire URL. If you have a few more details post here and I’ll take a look.

  10. Tom
    July 10, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Hi all,

    I could not find my “Category” column as mentioned in this tutorial anywhere. Any ideas why and how to get it. Thanks

  11. July 11, 2013 at 8:13 am

    There are two possible options on why the first is that your calendar is a custom list and not the out of the box calendar list from a Team Site Template, the second is some one deleted the category from your out of the box calendar. Try to create a new out of the box calendar list and see if the category field shows up under list settings, columns. If it doesn’t send me your SharePoint 2010 version number use SharePoint Administrators Management PowerShell Console and type Get-SPProducts and post the output here, you may need a Service Pack or hotfix.

  12. Jill Ma-Powers
    July 11, 2013 at 10:37 am

    I created the color views followed every steps. But the color does not change when selecting a category from the drop down list. The difference I see is my calendar is in a webpart on the home page. Yours is in the List. Any suggestions? Does the color change for existing meeting or it only change for a new meeting? Thanks

    • July 11, 2013 at 3:16 pm

      he instructions above show creating views per category on the calendar list, not creating seperate claendars per category. Take another look at the category view steps and see if you are still confused. This is using metadata to apply conditional formatting in the list view. Although it is possible to pull in other calendar lists to do this, it is not a requirement. To answer your second question, no since this is metadata driven it will not only affect new meeting but all meeting on the calendar with the correct metadata tags associated to the color coding.
      Hope this helps,

  13. Cristian
    August 9, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    I’m having an issue; any time I want to add/edit an event, it opens a new full window, and when I save it it’s another window with the calendar.

    It doesn’t pop up a window to edit as the other calendars; and this is very annoying. When I highlight an event, the option (in the top menu) to Edit Event is greyed out and doesn’t work and the popup says “this control is currently disabled” just on this calendar using overlays.

    For all other calendars, this function works.

    • August 12, 2013 at 8:31 am

      That sounds like a permissions issue, can you just double check permissions on the calendar that doesn’t work? Try accessing it with the farm or site collection administrator account. If this isn’t the case let me know so I can try to get a screen shot of the error.

      • Herb
        August 29, 2013 at 1:56 pm

        I have the same problem. This only happens when attempting to edit from the calendaroverlay view.

  14. Roy Meyer
    August 27, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    I have performed all of the steps and created the overlays, however in the actual overlay step where you select a color to match the filter, the color showing inthe box to the right does not change, and on the calendar view all events show the same color. Is there a configuration somewhere that has to be turned on?

    • August 28, 2013 at 7:57 am

      Double check the steps C and D. You need to make sure that your categories are selected to be seen in the view.

  15. Chelsea Fiero
    October 25, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    I’m not sure what I am doing wrong here so I need some help. I set everything up step by step and have done redone it several times now and only one color will show up for all of the events. It’s the second overlay that I choose. If you could help that would be great.

    • October 28, 2013 at 9:22 am

      Hi Chelsea,
      I would start by double checking that you have matched the overlay colors with the categories properly. If the set-up is correct this seems to be the only logical conclusion, that somehow the colors didn’t sync with the categories correctly.
      Let me know if this is the issue.

      • Chelsea Fiero
        October 28, 2013 at 12:57 pm

        It still is continuing to be all of the same color.

        • October 29, 2013 at 9:17 am

          I am reaching out via email.

  16. November 4, 2013 at 12:12 am

    I don’t have the same 10 colours you have as described. I have only greys, green and blue all look very similar. How did you get all such 10 different colours out of the box?

  17. Bruce Tait
    November 5, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Hi I have followed your instructions obviously not implicitly as I get 9 instances of an event when I enter it, I have double checked and I thought I had done every thing correctly, I am using nine staff names in the categories, and intend to use it to plan holidays. Any help would be appreciated.


    • November 6, 2013 at 8:36 am

      Hi Bruce,
      Not sure I know exactly what is going one here. I will attempt to recreate the issue and get back to you.

      • November 6, 2013 at 9:57 am

        Thanks for sending in the screen shots, it looks like you are encountering the same issue as Monique above. Jenny posted the below:
        Following my example ensure you have the following:

        1) A “Category” Choice column in the Calendar List with 10 options.

        2) 10 new calendar items, each assigned a Category from your choice column.

        3) 10 Public views in your Calendar List, each filtered to display one Category option.

        *The 10th Public view should be called “Calendar Overlay” and should be set as your “default view”.

        **Create the Calendar Overlay Views from the Calendar Overlay View page.

        4) 10 “New Calendar” Overlay Calendars, each pointing to one of the 9 Public views.

        Make sure to pay attention to the double asterick section above!
        Happy Troubleshooting!

  18. Malanbo Olembe
    November 8, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Everything has worked perfectly I have all the categories color coded. But new events appear in the original calendar as well, duplicated. Is there simpler way than workflow to stop this happening? Thanks for the great guide!

    • November 12, 2013 at 9:26 am

      You could build a quick SPD workflow to delete the extra entery on the main calendar. Use the category flag to delete the one without the category entry.

  19. Varun Verma
    January 9, 2014 at 3:05 am

    Can we increase from 10 ?

    • January 10, 2014 at 8:05 am

      Unfortunately with this method using SharePoint configuration only, you can only have ten colors. If you created a JavaScript method utilizing JQuery and formatting you could have as many colors as you wanted.

  20. KM
    March 20, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Hoping someone can help… I have 6 overlays set up, and all are working great and when I added new items for each one yesterday, all of them showed up perfectly. Today I tried to add new items/events and they do not show up on the calendar! I can’t see them in the overlay or the specific view I created for that overlay, but I can see them in the All Events view however. I can’t figure out why they won’t appear in the calendar – please help!

    • March 27, 2014 at 8:51 am

      This is an interesting presentation. Are you certain your calendar view hasn’t changed? Try to create a new calendar view without the categories as a configuration field and see if they show up there. If yes then the categories may be causing the issue in the view.

  21. Jacquie
    March 21, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Hi there – i followed the instructions to a T and i only get a scheme of gray colors to choose from and one black? any suggestions? I need to have some color

  22. Justin Carrell
    May 13, 2014 at 9:28 am

    I followed the steps and have colors. However, in the “Day Group” scope, events do not show up in resource rows. They show up correctly for people, but not resources. When I go to the original calendar view events show up on both people and resource rows, but, of course, they are all green.

    The one exception is that events that are germane to my overlay (catagory10) show up on the resource rows; 1-9 (added as additional calendars to the overlay) don’t.

    Any help would be very much appreciated.

    • June 3, 2014 at 8:46 am

      Are you still encountering this issue?

      • Justin Carrell
        October 2, 2014 at 8:23 pm

        Yes I am.

        • October 8, 2014 at 8:25 am

          if they are showing up correctly on the other calendar, check the overlay settings. Maybe even try re-creating the overlay.
          Let me know if that works.

  23. Tricia
    June 2, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    I am having trouble with the coloring showing up on the main calendar as well as the calendar doubling up on the events.

    • June 3, 2014 at 8:45 am

      The calendar doubling up on events is strange, I have gotten rid of this with a designer workflow before. You may want to run through the steps again and see if something funny is set.

      • Tricia
        June 3, 2014 at 9:01 am

        Thank you! How do I do the workflow… I am confused about that.

        • June 3, 2014 at 10:29 am

          Tricia, No worries, in SharePoint design select the workflow button on the left, up top you will see new list workflow click that select your calendar, then you will want to on edit, delete item with same title. You will do a lookup and then it will tell you its not exact science based on a text field but its ok.
          Good luck!

          • Tricia
            June 3, 2014 at 1:26 pm

            Thank you! I finally got it to work.. now on the main page of the SharePoint the colors are all green on the calendar…anyway how to fix that?

          • June 3, 2014 at 4:13 pm

            Tricia, Looks like its deleting the ones from the other categories not the new ones in the new category. Take a look at your workflow and make sure its on the right items.

  24. Michael Rambo
    June 4, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    So here’s a major flaw with this shortcoming in SP: it basically kills the interoperability with Outlook since the base calendar on which the overlays are applied can be connected to Outlook, but none of the overlays will follow. Unless, of course, you want to connect all of the little calendars and overlay them within Outlook’s calendar view… best of luck implementing such a solution in the corporate environment. Likewise, since color attributes don’t follow back and forth to Outlook from SP, there is no reasonable means of having truly synchronized color calendars between the two. Why is this so complicated and annoying, Microsoft?!?

    • June 5, 2014 at 10:31 am

      You are correct, the over lay colors will not follow to outlook, and the thought of syncing all of these calendars and viewing in overlay mode is cumbersome. This type of solution is geared towards the web calendar model of SharePoint and not the client platform like outlook. I would venture that depending on the requirements we would determine to use this style calendar for scheduling with people outside the organization, and an outlook style calendar for internal folks. The other suggestion which may help is creating a custom field that would link to a rule in outlook to assign a color when viewed in outlook.
      We are not Microsoft so I can’t answer the why question! Good luck!

  25. Alem
    June 12, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Hi all,
    I have six categories overlayed calendar with different colors and they are working very well. My problem is when I open one of the catagory calendar, the color has changed to the parent calendar(overlayed calendar). How can I solve this? Thank you

    • June 17, 2014 at 9:34 am

      You would need to configure the sub calendar to show the color, it is a totaly different calendar not just a view.

  26. Alexandra
    July 28, 2014 at 9:45 am


    I have followed all the steps and everything appears to be working, however in the actual overlay step where you select a colour for a new calendar, the colour showing in the box to the right does not change, and on the calendar view all events show as the same default colour.

    Any ideas on how to fix this?

  27. Priyanka Sarvankar
    November 28, 2014 at 3:37 am

    What if we have to give different color to tasks mentioned in same calender? What is option to color change without calender overlay?

    • November 28, 2014 at 9:29 am

      That is not possible without some custom Javascript, the built in overlay feature is specifically made to work with additional calendars.

  28. Przemek
    December 18, 2014 at 2:06 am

    Very nice tutorial. Everything works fine for me :-)

    How can I create a view on that calendar that shows me only my events (where i’m in attendees).

    Best Regards,

    • December 26, 2014 at 11:45 am

      Add a filtered view, under the filter settings use a contains [Me] filtyer.
      Good luck

  29. February 5, 2015 at 2:44 am

    I’ve already tried it in SP 2013 and it’s working

  30. STEVE
    November 19, 2015 at 10:17 am


  31. Brian
    December 8, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    Hey everyone. I followed the instructions and for the most part it works great. The only problem I’m having is with editing events. When I add an event and select the appropriate overlay for it to be on, it appears on the default in the correct color. When I click on that event from the default calendar though, it opens a new window, and in this new window it says “No item exists at https://………………”. I have to go back to the calendar overall to view the details of the event. Anyway to set it up so I can open up the details for the event by clicking on it from the default calendar?

  32. fa
    March 21, 2016 at 9:10 am

    I am adding a view where if created event equals today display happy birthday. Problem is if 3 events are created today then happy birthday is displayed 3 times. how to make it display just once

  33. Jackey Stanley
    June 17, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    I followed all the steps carefully and like a few others, the event only shows up in the All Events view. All the categories and filters were carefully copy/pasted from the list categories themselves to avoid typos. Help!

    • Stephanie Wilson
      July 13, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      Hi Jackey,
      Try and create another non-overlay view, and see if your item shows up.

      Hope this helps!

  34. Jessica
    July 18, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    I found that it wasn’t obvious that you must also filter your default view to not include the item if the Category is blank. This fixed the duplicates for me.

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