How to create Gantt Chart with MS Prjoject

A Gantt chart is an illustration of several project tasks, and depicts who does what and especially when it is scheduled to be done. It can also show the predecessors and successors of each task. The chart was invented by Henry Gantt and is named in his honor (Gantt isn’t an acronym).

MS Project Gantt Chart
MS Project Gantt Chart

Creating a Gantt chart in MS Project:

The conventional method to create a Gantt chart in MS Project is to fill in the task names, dates and resources in the work plan (chart) section. The Gantt chart will automatically be created accordingly, but like any Microsoft product, the chart can be customized.

The steps in creating a chart are : 

  1. Open a new MPP file
  2. Save the file as (Shortcut = F12)
  3. Insert the summary tasks, tasks and milestones of the work plan
  4. Set the predecessors and duration of each task
  5. Allocate resources for each task
  6. The basic Gantt chart will then be created on the right side of the view.


In order to add the “Project Summary Task” (row zero): Go to the “Format” ribbon, and check the “Project Summary Task” box. Unless changed, the name that will appear in the “Task Name” of row zero will be the name given to the MPP file.

In the picture above, the gray bar at the top represents the entire span of the project, the black bars are the span of the summary tasks, the blue bars are the tasks and the gray rhombuses represent the milestones.

On the right side of the blue bars are the resources allocated to the task, and on the right side of the rhombuses are end dates of the milestones. The summary tasks don’t have any information next to them.

Customizing the Gantt chart

Go to the “Format” ribbon – 

In order to see the critical tasks, check the “Critical Tasks” box. Critical task = a task that its slack is zero days, and delaying it by X days will delay the entire project by X days. The critical tasks bars will appear in red.

In order to customize the appearance of the Gantt chart: click on “Format”. You can choose between customizing the entire Gantt chart by clicking on “Bar Styles”, or just one bar by clicking on “Bar”.
Customizing the Gantt chart
Customizing the Gantt chart

  • Name”: The name given to the group of characters which appear in the chart.
  • Appearance”: How the objects (bar/milestone/etc.) will appear on the Gantt chart. The bottom half of the menu is where the user can change the appearance (in the “Bars” tab). It is possible to alter the start, finish and middle of each shape in regards to the shape itself, pattern and color.

  • Show for…Tasks”: This is the filter of the Gantt chart. Here the user can set the parameters of which objects will appear. For example if the following parameters appear in this column: “Active, Not Manually Scheduled”, then only tasks that are automatically scheduled and active will appear in the Gantt chart.
  • Row” the number of rows (basically the height) of the object in the Gantt chart. From 1 (the default) to 4.
  • From”: Where the object will start to appear on the timeline. This is a drop-down menu of all the columns that exist in the MPP file.
  • To”: Where the object will stop appearing on the timeline. This is a drop-down menu of all the columns that exist in the MPP file.

In the bottom half of the menu, in the “Text” tab the user can choose which text will appear next to the object. For example for the “Task” row it is possible to decide that the start date will appear on the left, the end date on the right and the task name on top. All of the parameters are drop-down menus.

Customizing the Layout 

If the user will click on “Layout” in the format ribbon on the top, the following menu will appear – 

Gantt Chart Layout Options
Gantt Chart Layout Options
Also if the “always roll up Gantt bars” is checked, then all the summary tasks will present the individual tasks that are under them.

There are 3 other check boxes – 
  • Round bars to whole days”: If the user checks this box, then partial days duration will be rounded in the chart.
  • Show bar splits”: If the user checks this box, then if a bar is split in 2 or more parts the split will appear in the Gantt chart.
  • Show drawings”: In the “format->Drawing” section the user can add drawings of shapes. Checking this box will allow them to appear on the Gantt chart.

Adjusting the project timescale 

There are 2 ways to change the timescale of the chart – 

Use the standard “Zoom in” “Zoom out” buttons that appear on the bottom right of the chart (like all Microsoft’s application). The more precise method is to right-click at the top of the chart (in the header of the timescale), and choose “Timescale”. 

The following menu will appear – 
MS Project Timescale
MS Project Timescale
In order to customize the timescale, the user needs to choose how many tiers are needed. This is done in the “Show” drop-down menu (one to three). The next step is deciding what the “Units” will be for each tier (from Minutes to Years), what the date format will be for each tier, the alignment and if the tick lines will appear.

In the “Count” drop-down menu the user can choose if each unit will appear, or will only every second, third, etc. For example if the user chooses “Month” as a unit and “2” as the count, then only every other Month will appear in the header (January, March, May…).

This process needs to be done for each tier individually, using the tabs at the top of the menu. Please note that the tier units must be less than the units of the tier above. For example the user can’t choose “Months” for the Middle tier, and “Quarters” for the Bottom tier.
Swapnil Wale

Written by

Swapnil Wale is an IT Professional based in Sydney, Australia with over 10 years of experience in technology and project management. He is a passionate blogger and focuses on project management and BRMS articles.

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