Skip to main content
Northwestern University


If you don't already have a license that allows you to create your own SmartSheets, review Northwestern's SmartSheet Tool page for information.

SmartSheet is easy to use, versatile, and widely adopted throughout the University; it offers webformsautomated notifications and approvalscell linkingreporting, outputs of sheet data to PDF, and more. Expand the sections below to review tips, best practices, examples of applications of these features at Northwestern, and more.

Forms / Webforms

Navigate to Forms > Create Forms after logging into SmartSheet. A few notes:

  • A best practice for form creation is to create FIRST the sheet with the fields you wish to track and LATER the form.
  • If the fields/columns in your sheet exist already, creating the form is as easy as dragging and dropping the fields from a left column to the form builder. Rename fields, with the "Label" feature, so that they display to users of the form as you would. The name of the field on your tracking sheet will not change.
  • Create field types to match your needs.
    • If you wish to use automation/workflow, you must use a "Contact List" field type to collect the email address from the person submitting the form.
    • If you wish to use display logic on the form (e.g., if someone selects "Chicago" campus as an answer to a question, then field X appears on the form), be sure to use  the "Dropdown (Single Select)" field type when setting up your sheet.
  • Multiple forms can be created to populate a single SmartSheet. You can create hidden, auto-populated fields on the form to identify in your sheet from which form each row of data originated.
  • Other features to explore:
    • Set default values for a form field
    • Add help text and URLs to forms
    • Collect attachments with the "File Upload" field available for any form.
    • Share the form with a simple URL or by asking a colleague who manages your web site to paste the embed code (iframe) in their web design tool so that the form appears embedded on a page. You can access this embed code via Forms > Manage Forms.
Examples of SmartSheet Forms at Northwestern:
  • Applications to undergraduate programs
  • Requests for access to Weinberg IT systems (these forms also route to different individuals for approval, depending on the system selected in the form)
  • Research appointment requests (these forms also route to department chairs and PIs and then can be output to PDFs for submission to the Office for Research)
  • Nominations for staff award
  • Faculty submission to department for hiring requests
  • Department submissions to the Office of the Dean for short-term appointment requests

Automated Notifications and Approvals

Navigate to Automation after logging into SmartSheet. A few notes:

A Few Tips:
  • Add yourself to any automation if you wish to verify an email was properly generated by the SmartSheet workflow you set up. Unfortunately, there is no tracking mechanism currently available in the tool to track which emails were sent, opened, etc.
  • Some automated emails at Northwestern have been routed to Junk Mail. Weinberg IT is working with Northwestern IT to make sure configurations in the tool going forward prevent this problem. If you have immediate concerns, please contact
  • Track approvals via File > View Activity Log or, within a single sheet cell, by right clicking and selecting View Cell History.

Reports and Dashboards

Content to come

Conditional Formatting

Content to come

Backups of Your SmartSheet Data

Create backups of your sheet data either manually or automatically.

Manual, one-time backups:
  • Navigate to the black, vertical menu bar at the left of your SmartSheet window and select Browse (the folder icon).
  • Right-click on the name of a sheet, folder, or workspace and select Request a Backup.
Weekly automated backups:
  • First, note that you can only set a weekly automated backup for workspaces. To create a workspace, navigate to the black, vertical menu bar at the left of your SmartSheet window and select Browse (folder icon). Then select Create > Workspace from the Create menu at the top right of this Browse window.
  • Right-click on the workspace (within the Browse view), and select Schedule Recurring Backup.

Outputs of Sheet Data to PDF

Content to come

SmartSheet Templates at Northwestern

Content to come
Back to top