Microsoft Outlook – Creating Contacts and Categories

November 9, 2007

If you have been following this Blog you will know that I now use Mindjet’s MindManager 7.0 Pro software as a “hub” for all my interactions with Microsoft Office.  However, I still use Microsoft Office extensively and have recently been asked how to create CONTACTS in Outlook and how to use CATEGORIES effectively…

The following screenshots are for Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 but the basic principle will work for all previous versions – the key difference in 2007 is that CATEGORIES can have colours assigned to them, whereas in Outlook 2003 you had CATEGORIES and EDIT LABELS as separate entities. 

1. From CONTACTS, create a new CONTACT via File, New and complete all the relevant information


 2.  In Outlook 2007 – Choose an appropriate CATEGORY from the CATEGORIZE button.  If none of the CATEGORIES are suitable you can delete, rename and create NEW ones:-


Once you have assigned a CATEGORY (or several) by ticking them, click OK and that CONTACT will have the coloured CATEGORIES visible at the top.

In Microsoft Office Outlook 2003, as mentioned above, colours were separate from Categories (colours were called labels and are in Edit, Labels) … in the example below I have shown CATEGORIES being applied onto an APPOINTMENT (rather than a CONTACT) but the process is the same for both …


The whole point about assigning CATEGORIES to either APPOINTMENTS or CONTACTS is that you can then, in the future, extract all appointments or contacts PER CATEGORY by simply changing the VIEW.  It is an incredibly efficient way of sub-setting or analysing by CATEGORY … you just need to plan ahead and consider how you might need to view and create all the necessary Categories.

In Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007, you can VIEW by CATEGORY… this screenshot shows the Calendar by Category …


To reverse the process, choose VIEW, Current View … and the top item from the menu … which will set you back to the default screen.

Another useful aspect of CATEGORIES is that in Word, the mail-merge feature can use Outlook to merge to a particular sub-set.  Therefore, if you want to merge to a particular group of your contacts you simply need to assign a CATEGORY or CATEGORIES to those people and have them on screen, then open up Word, start the merge process and when asked what data to use … simply choose Outlook and you will be able to use the Current View which will contain the correct names and addresses.