What is a modifier and how does it work?

Whenever you want to change the look and design of your presentation in Grunt, you will use modifiers. Modifiers are formatting rules that can either be simple, such as changing the font color, or more advanced such as displaying icons, charts, and shapes that are data-dependent and context-aware.

Benefits of working with modifiers

There are many benefits to using modifiers over more traditional formatting. First of all, modifiers are dynamic, meaning that you can edit them, rearrange them or disable them, as your presentation evolves. Disabling all of them leaves you with your original raw data. You can also combine several modifiers, creating advanced visual presentations.

Underlying all of this is the fact that modifiers are separated from your data. While traditional formatting works in a static, destructive way, Grunt's separation of data and formatting, allows you to update your data without having to think of applying all the formatting over again. This also means that you never have to manually ensure that all of your formatting has been updated - changing the settings of a modifier ensures that the updates are propagated everywhere the modifier appears.

Using modifiers

Adding a modifier

Start by selecting the part of your Grunt you want to change. Then either right-click and choose "Add modifier" or use the shortcut key CTRL + Enter (worth memorizing as you will use it quite often).

A dialog box will then appear that contains all the modifiers available in the current context. There are lots of them, and you can scroll through the list to get a better feeling for what is there. If you know what modifier you are looking for you can also search for it. Double-click on the modifier you want to add.  

When a new modifier is added, the modifier settings dialog is automatically opened, and you can use this dialog to change the modifier settings.


If you want to read more on a specific modifier, we have separate articles describing each modifier more closely

When a new modifier is added, the modifier settings dialog is automatically opened. The settings vary from modifier to modifier, and you can use this dialog to change the modifier settings.



Your modifiers are applied to different targets. In short, targets are the things that you can change using modifiers. The simplest way to choose a target is by selecting the cells you want to apply the modifier to, then adding the modifier. 

There are also more advanced forms of targeting, where not only cells, icons or text can be targeted, but also shapes, paragraphs, icons, labels and even other modifiers can be targeted. 

 Learn more about targeting here.


img The Modifier Stack

The Modifier Stack is where your design rules will show up when you start adding them. The important thing to remember with the Modifier Stack is precisely that - a stack of modifiers. That means that when you add modifiers, you stack them on top of each other. Modifiers are applied by Grunt bottom-up so that modifiers further to the top may "overwrite" those further down.

This means that if two different modifiers affecting the same thing are applied to the same target, only the one further up in the modifier stack will be visible. You can drag and drop modifiers in the stack to move them further up or down.


Sometimes you'll be changing a modifier and nothing happens; it's like the modifier doesn't work. Often, it's because you have another modifier above it in the stack that changes the same thing. Then, because that modifier is further up, it "wins". There is no mechanism (yet) in Grunt that tells you if you have ineffectual modifiers. We may launch such a feature in future releases.

The Stack also determines the order in which graphics show up in your Grunt.

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