Board Basics

Boards, lists, cards, and a whole lot more.

The Basics

A new Trello board is like a clean slate, ready to organize any of your life’s projects: Basics of a Trello board

  1. Boards - A board represents a project or a place to keep track of information. Whether you are launching a new website, creating an employee manual, or planning a vacation, a Trello board is the place to organize your tasks as cards on lists and collaborate with your colleagues, family, or friends.
  2. Lists - Lists keep cards organized in their various stages of progress. They can be used to create a workflow where cards are moved across lists from start to finish, or simply act as a place to keep track of ideas and information. There’s no limit to the number of lists you can add to a board.
  3. Cards - The fundamental unit of a board is a card. Cards are used to represent tasks and ideas. A card can be something that needs to get done, like a blog post to be written, or something that needs to be remembered, like company vacation policies. Drag and drop cards across lists to show progress. There’s no limit to the number of cards you can add to a board.
  4. Menu - On the right side of your Trello board is the menu—the mission control center for your board. The menu is where you manage members, control settings, filter cards, and enable Power-Ups. You can also see all of the activity that has taken place on a board in the menu’s activity feed. Take some time to check out everything the menu has to offer.

For detailed step-by-step instructions on setting up and creating Trello boards, check out our Getting Started article.

Let's Look At Lists

When it comes to lists, there’s no right or wrong way to go. It’s all about creating a structure for your board that works for you, no matter how you work.

A basic (but effective) list setup for a board might be simply To Do, Doing, and Done, where cards start in the To Do list and make their way to the Done list. But don’t forget: Trello is truly customizable to the unique needs of your workflow, so you can name your lists anything you like.

For instance, a sales team might set up a board with the following lists: Incoming Leads, Contacted, Demo Scheduled, Proposal Delivered, Won, and Lost. (Let’s hope that last list remains empty!)

Or a marketing team managing a content pipeline could have a list workflow set up like this: Article Ideas, Writing, Editing, Graphics And Layout, Published.

And an engineering team might set up their development board with the lists: Backlog, In Progress, Blocked, Testing, Verified, Shipped.

The list goes on and on! (Pun totally intended.) What matters most is establishing a process by creating a workflow that works for your team. Experiment with your lists, adding or consolidating as you need to. Want to see how others set up their boards? Check out our Inspiration page.

A Close Up On Cards

A great Trello card starts with a great name. Whether your new card represents a task, an idea, or a vehicle to share information, card names should be clear, concise, and maybe even fun. Remember to think in terms of scannability, so that when a teammate opens a Trello board they can understand in a glance the status of every card on the board.

Of course, a task or an idea is not just as simple as a witty card title. That’s why cards can be customized to hold a wide variety of useful information and facilitate collaboration with anyone, anywhere. Just click on a card to view and edit the contents within:

We call this area of a card the “card back” and it has four main sections that are worth getting to know:

  1. Card Descriptions - To add details to your card click “Edit the description” at the top of the card back. This is a good place to go wild with words. In the description field you can add more specific information about your card, links to websites, or step by step directions. You can even format your text with Markdown.
  2. Comments and Activity - Comments can be added to cards when communicating and collaborating with team members, like giving feedback or updates. @ mention a member of your board or team in a comment and they will receive a notification in Trello. The activity feed shows the history of comments and actions that have taken place on a card and creates a timeline of events as progress is made, such as when a card is moved to a different list, or someone completes a checklist item.
  3. Add - The “Add” section provides you with more tools for the back of a card.
    • Add board members to cards to assign them tasks. Members added to cards will receive notifications for actions on that card.
    • Add Labels for categories and tags, which can be named and filtered.
    • Add Checklists for cards that require subtasks or have multiple steps to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. You can even copy checklists from other cards on the board.
    • Add a Due date to cards with deadlines, and card members will receive a notification 24 hours before it’s due. Once the tasks are completed, due dates can be marked as done.
    • Add Attachments from both your computer and many cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and OneDrive.
    #TrelloTips: Images that are .jpeg, .gif, or .png will become a card cover, and they will display on the front of the card as well.
  4. Actions - The “Actions” section has some handy features worth knowing:
    • Move cards to other lists and boards, like when a card from the product roadmap is added to the next development sprint.
    • Copy cards to other lists and boards with the ability to keep checklists, members, and attachments, if you like. This is great for creating a repeatable process without having to reinvent the wheel each time.
    • Subscribe to cards when you don’t need to be added to the card, but still want to stay in the loop and receive notifications for actions that occur on that card.
    • Archive cards when you’ve finished them if your board starts feeling cluttered. Don’t worry, archived cards can always be retrieved at a later date.
    #TrelloTips: Every single Trello card has a unique email address for every board member. It’s great for getting information out of email and onto actionable Trello cards. Click “Share and more” to get the unique email address associated with a card.

It’s On The Menu

On the right side of your Trello board is the menu, the mission control center for your board. The menu is where you can manage members, control settings, and enable Power-Ups. Let’s look at some of the menu’s tastiest items.

  1. Board Members - Add, remove, and manage board membership permissions.
    • Click “Add Members” to add people to a board, and invite them by their email or Trello username. Team members are automatically surfaced to save you some clicks.

      #TrelloTips: Easily invite a group of people to a board by sharing the special link at the bottom of the Add Members window. Great for sharing via email when you want to pull someone out of the dreaded email chain and onto a visual Trello board.
    • Remove members from a board by clicking their avatar in the members section and selecting “Remove from Board.” Click your own avatar to leave a board if you’ve had enough of the productivity party. By default any board member can add and remove members to make collaboration easier, but admins can change this in the board settings.
    • Manage board member permissions by clicking an avatar and selecting “Change permissions.” We recommend having more than one admin on a board in case an admin is unavailable and important admin level settings need to be changed. Only board admins can change board member permissions.
  2. Change Background - Express your inner interior designer with board backgrounds. Your Trello board comes with a default Trello blue background. If you want to express yourself a little more, just click “Change Background.” Voila! Because we don’t think you should always be “feeling blue,” there are eight additional background colors and thousands of beautiful photos from which to choose.

    Want even more? Business Class teams and Enterprise organizations can customize their boards even further with the ability to upload their own backgrounds.
  3. Filter Cards - To surface information fast, filter the cards on a board by name, label, member, and due date.
    • Looking for a specific card or set of cards? Stop the scroll and use the filter instead. Filter by card name to see all of the cards that have the term for which you filtered.
    • Put those lovely labels to use by using the filter feature to display all of the cards on a board with the selected labels applied. You can also filter cards by assigned members or due dates.
    • Get granular by applying multiple filters at once. For instance, see all of the cards assigned to you, that are due in the next week, with the “red” label applied.
    • Make sure nothing falls through the cracks by using the “No Labels,” “Unassigned,” or “Has No Due Date” options so that no important cards go unassigned or without a date.
    • To remove a filter and display the rest of the cards on the board just click the “x” in the green box to the left of the menu that says “Filter is on.”
    #TrelloTips: To quickly filter for all of your assigned cards on a board, use the “Q” keyboard shortcut.
  4. Power-Ups - Bring additional functionality and integrations with the apps you rely on to your Trello boards with Power-Ups.
    • Enable integrations with the apps you use every day like Google Drive, Slack, Salesforce, Evernote, GitHub, and more, to turn your Trello board into a centralized hub for productivity. Share and access important information to move projects forward without leaving Trello, turning boards into the ultimate apps for your unique business needs.
    • Bring a different perspective to a board with the Calendar and Card Aging Power-Ups: View cards in a calendar view and see which cards have had no activity recently, respectively. Bring additional features to cards with Custom Fields and Voting, or add a dose of automation with Card Repeater to automatically create copies of those frequent cards.
    • Every board comes with one free Power-Up. Business Class teams and Enterprise organizations get unlimited Power-Ups on their boards.
  5. Stickers - Add a little visual zest to your cards with stickers. Whether it’s to champion good work, signify a roadblock, or mark a card as completed, stickers are a fun and distinct way to add visual data to your cards.
  6. More - Head here for additional board settings and options. Here are some highlights:
    • Change board level permissions, settings, and invites.
    • Access archived cards and lists, and send them back to the board if you need to bring them back into your workflow.
    • Create copies of a board - great for setting templates for repeatable processes like retrospectives, onboarding new hires, and product launches.
    • Done with a board? Close it to remove it from your boards page, but remember that this closes the board for everyone else, too. Don’t worry, you can always open it again!
  7. Activity - Get a timeline view of everything getting done on a board in the activity feed. Always in sync, it is truly a must-read for anyone that wants to always be up-to-date on what’s going on.

Now that you know the lay of the land, it’s time to turn your collaboration skills up to 11.

Next Up: Collaborate →