Formatting the Gantt Chart View

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The Gantt Chart view is one of the most important presentations in project management reporting. Therefore, many format choices are available for this presentation. You can either format this view yourself or use the Gantt Chart Wizard.

Formatting the Gantt Chart View Manually

The Format menu for Gantt Chart views includes the following options: Font, Bar, Timescale, Gridlines, Gantt Chart Wizard, Text Styles, Bar Styles, and Layout. The options Font, Timescale, Gridlines, and Text Styles are described in previous sections of this chapter. Refer to the appropriate sections for instructions on using these features. The following sections show several ways to change the look of the bar chart in the timescale section of the Gantt Chart view.

Using the Bar Styles Options

One way to change the display of the bar chart section of the Gantt Chart view is to choose Format, Bar Styles. The Bar Styles dialog box appears (see Figure 20.11).

Figure 20.11. You can use the Bar Styles dialog box to change the display of categories of taskbars in the Gantt Chart view.



You can also open the Bar Styles dialog box by right-clicking a blank spot on the timescale portion of the Gantt Chart view and choosing Bar Styles from the shortcut menu, or by double-clicking in the Gantt Chart view background.

The top half of the Bar Styles dialog box contains a definition table with rows for each of the bars and symbols that appear in the Gantt Chart view. The bottom half of the dialog box contains two tabs:

  • The Bars tab has drop-down lists for specifying the formatted look of the bars and symbols. You can specify the way a bar looks at the start, the end, and in between. The second column in the table at the top of the dialog box displays a sample of the formatted look that you composed .

  • The Text tab has options for adding text in various locations around the bars.

To insert a new bar definition within a table, select the row where you want to define the bar and then click the Insert Row button at the top of the dialog box. To delete a bar from the definition, select the row that defines the bar and then click the Cut Row button. You can paste this Cut definition into a new location by selecting the new location and clicking the Paste Row button.


There is no Copy Row button; to copy a row, you need to use cut and paste. For example, to create a bar that closely resembles a bar already defined, cut the row to be copied and immediately paste it back to the same location. Then move to the location for the copy and paste the row again. A blank row is inserted, and a copy of the row that you cut is placed in the new position.

Supplying the Bar Name

The first column of the definition table in the Bar Styles dialog box is used to enter a name for each bar type. The bar name can be anything you choose. This name is used only in the legend next to the bar symbol when the Gantt Chart view is printed. Type an asterisk ( * ) in front of the name if you don't want it to print in the legend.

Defining the Bar Appearance

The Appearance column in the Bar Styles dialog box shows what the bar or symbol looks like when the Bars palette definition is applied. You can change the look of the sample by using the Start, Middle, and End sections on the Bars tab at the bottom of the dialog box.

You can define the shape, type, and color of the start shape at the left edge of the bar, and you can define the end shape at the right edge of the bar. Use the Shape drop-down list to scroll the list for the shape you want. Choose the first option, which is blank, if you don't want a symbol to mark the start of the bar. Use the Type drop-down list to choose Dashed, Framed, or Solid. Select a color for the bar from the Color drop-down list.

In the Middle section, use the Shape drop-down list to view the options for the size and height of the bar itself. The list includes no bar at all, a full bar, the top half of a bar, a small bar in the center of the bar space, the bottom half of a bar, and heavy lines at the top, middle, and bottom of the bar space. You can apply a color and fill pattern or shading. The bar can show as an outline only, it can be solid, or it can have any one of nine fill patterns. These bar shapes can overlap. (See the section "Selecting the Row for the Bar," later in this chapter, for an explanation of how Project actually draws bars on the Gantt Chart view.)


Bar colors can get lost when you're printing in black and white or when you're faxing a color printout. You should give at least one bar a patterned appearance to help distinguish critical from noncritical tasks .

You must select all the options described here for each bar or symbol that you place on the Gantt Chart view. Before choosing any options at the bottom of the Bar Style dialog box, make sure that the intended task type is selected at the top.

Selecting the Tasks That Display the Bar

In the third column (Show For Tasks) in the definition table, define the categories of tasks for which the bar should be displayed. When you click in this column, a drop-down list appears. You can choose a bar category from the drop-down list or type the category. If you want to use two or more task categories, separate the task categories' names with commas (or the list separator character specified under Control Panel, Regional Settings).

The Show For drop-down list contains a large number of task types:

  • Normal ” Normal tasks are tasks that are neither Milestone tasks nor Summary tasks. Thus, most tasks display this style.

  • Milestone ” Milestone tasks are identified in Project by the Milestone field, which is automatically set to Yes if a task has zero duration. You can also select the Mark Task as Milestone check box on the Advanced tab of the Task Information dialog box to treat a task as a milestone, and you can clear the box if you don't want a zero-duration task to be treated as a milestone.

  • Summary ” A summary task has one or more subtasks indented under it and is identified by the Yes entry in the Summary task field.

  • Critical ” Critical tasks are tasks on the critical path . Critical tasks are identified by Yes in the Critical task field, and that entry is determined by the task's slack. Normally, if slack is zero or less, the task is marked as critical, but you can change the cutoff point on the Calculation tab of the Options dialog box.

  • Noncritical ” Noncritical tasks are tasks that are not on the critical path ”tasks with slack greater than that which defines a critical task.

  • Marked ” The Marked field lets you arbitrarily tag individual tasks for special formatting. You can add the Marked field to any task sheet and enter Yes for the tasks you want to tag.

  • Finished ” Finished tasks are tasks that have an actual finish date (that is, do not have NA in the Actual Finish field).

  • In Progress ” In Progress tasks are tasks that have an actual start date but no actual finish date.

  • Not Finished ” Not Finished tasks are tasks for which the Actual Finish date field contains NA. They include both Not Started and In Progress tasks.

  • Not Started ” Not Started tasks are tasks for which the Actual Start date field contains NA.

  • Started Late ” A Started Late task is a task whose scheduled start (they don't have to have actually started) is later than its baseline start.

  • Finished Late ” A Finished Late task is a task whose scheduled finish is later than its baseline finish.

  • Started Early ” A Started Early task is a task whose scheduled start date is earlier than its baseline start.

  • Finished Early ” A Finished Early task is a task whose scheduled finish is earlier than its baseline finish.

  • Started On Time ” A Started On Time task is a task whose scheduled start is the same as its baseline start.

  • Finished On Time ” A Finished On Time task is a task whose scheduled finish is the same as its baseline finish.

  • Rolled Up ” Rolled Up tasks are tasks that have the Rollup field set to Yes. You can set the Rollup field on the General tab of the Task Information dialog box by selecting the Roll Up Gantt Bar to Summary check box. Note that a summary task does not display rolled-up subtask dates unless the Show Rolled Up Gantt Bars check box on the Summary Task Information dialog is filled for the summary task.

  • Project Summary ” A Project Summary task has task ID number 0, which is displayed only if you select the Project Summary Task option on the View tab of the Options dialog box.

  • Group By Summary ” Group By Summary tasks are temporary tasks created by the Group By command that contain rolled-up values for a selected set of tasks.

  • Split ” Split tasks are tasks that have been split into two or more sections.

  • External Tasks ” External Tasks are "phantom" tasks that represent tasks in other projects that are linked as predecessors or successors to tasks in the current project.

  • Flag1 Flag20 ” Flag tasks are tasks that have a custom Flag field set to Yes. You can add a Flag field to any task sheet for data entry.

Every task falls into one of the first three categories: Normal, Milestone, or Summary. You could use these three kinds of tasks in combination with the other types in the list to more narrowly define specific types of tasks ”for example, you could call tasks Normal, Critical and Normal, Noncritical instead of just Normal (which includes both Critical and Noncritical tasks).

If a task falls into more than one category, it shows the formatting features of both categories (for example, Normal and Critical). If one formatting feature would overwrite another, the feature that is lowest in the definition table is applied last and remains visible in the display.

To select all tasks except the type that is named, you can place the word Not before the type name (for example, Not Summary, Not Milestone, or Not Rolled Up).

Selecting the Row for the Bar

Each task can have up to four distinct (that is, non-overlapping) bars drawn for it. Normally, you use only Row 1. That means there is only one row of bars for each task. If you define multiple bar styles that apply to a task, those styles are all drawn on that same row. The styles at the top of the table are drawn first, and any styles lower in the table that apply to the same task are drawn to overwrite them. If the overwriting bar is as large as the one it overwrites, it completely hides the overwritten bar. If it is smaller, you see them both. That's why the standard progress bar appears to be in the middle of the standard taskbar. The Progress style is on a lower row in the style table than the Task style, but two styles are both drawn to Row 1. Therefore, the progress bar appears to be on top of the taskbar.

If you want to show multiple styles for the same task side-by-side, you define them to occupy different rows. For example, if you wanted to see a bar for the task's early start and early finish dates, another bar for its late start and late finish dates, and a third bar for the scheduled dates, you could define a style for Row 1 that shows bars for the early start and finish dates, a style for Row 2 that shows bars for the late start and finish dates, and a style for Row 3 that shows the scheduled dates. You can define up to four rows for different styles for each task definition if you don't want the styles to overwrite each other.

Defining the Length of the Bar

The length and placement of every bar or symbol on the Gantt Chart are determined by entries in the From and To columns of the definition table at the top of the Bar Styles dialog box. You can use date fields or one of several measures of time (for example, Percent Complete, Total Slack, Actual Start). Choose an entry from the drop-down lists. The choices in the drop-down lists for these columns appear in the following list, with an explanation of how they are calculated:

  • Start and Finish ” The dates and times when a task is currently scheduled to start or finish.

  • Baseline Start and Baseline Finish ” The planned start and finish dates for a task that you save as part of the baseline. These fields contain NA if you have not saved the baseline (or if you have edited the field directly in a table).

  • Actual Start and Actual Finish ” The dates and times recorded for the start and finish of actual work on a task.(See more on these fields in the "Selecting a Progress Bar Style" section later in this chapter.)

  • Start1 “Start10 and Finish1 “Finish10 ” There are 10 custom start and finish date fields that you can use to store additional task date information. When you save interim schedules, Project stores them in these fields. So, a style to show Interim Plan 1 would include a bar drawn from Start1 to Finish1.

  • BaselineStart1 “10 and BaselineFinish1 “10 ” Project 2003 can store multiple baselines, which include Start, Finish, Duration, Work, and Cost fields for a task with each supplemental baseline. These date fields are similar in concept to the Start1 “Finish1 fields described previously.

  • Deadline ” The date you entered as a deadline for a task (as opposed to defining a date constraint for the task), indicating when you want the task to be completed. It uses the same field as the From and To entries since the deadline date is a single point in time.

  • Preleveled Start and Preleveled Finish ” The scheduled start and finish dates for a task, just before the last resource leveling was performed.

  • Early Start and Early Finish ” Early Start is the earliest possible start date for a task, given the start of the project, the schedule for its predecessors, the calendar, and any constraints that may be imposed on the task. Early Finish is the earliest possible finish date for the task, given the task's Early Start date, its Duration, and its linking relationships.

  • Late Start and Late Finish ” Late Start is the latest start date for the task that would not delay the finish of the project. Late Finish is the latest finish date for the task that would not delay the finish of the project. If you define a Deadline date for the task, that date becomes the Late Finish date.

  • Free Slack ” Free Slack is a duration value and is the amount of time that a task can be delayed without affecting the schedule of any other task. In the Leveling Gantt view, the Slack style is drawn from the Finish to Free Slack ”meaning that the bar starts at the task's finish date and is as long as the duration in the Free Slack field.

  • Negative Slack ” This is an amount of time that needs to be saved in order to avoid delaying any successor task. Negative Slack indicates that there is not enough time scheduled for the task. It is usually the From column value and is paired with the Start date in the To column.

  • Physical % Complete ” A field called Physical % Complete measures work progress against a stated goal, but does not affect duration or percentage-complete calculations. It is usually selected as the To value and paired with Actual Start as the From value.

  • Total Slack ” For fixed start date projects, Total Slack is the amount of time that a task's finish can be delayed (that is, scheduled for later) without delaying the finish of the project or causing a successor task's constraint to be violated. It is usually the To value and paired with the scheduled Finish date as the From value.

Selecting a Progress Bar Style

Progress bar styles are designed to show how much of a task has been completed. They should always be drawn from the Actual Start date. When a task is first created, the Actual Start and Actual Finish fields contain NA. As soon as you record that a task has started or finished, the NAs are replaced by the appropriate dates.

Many of the To field options for progress bars are the same as for other types of bars. A few fields warrant special discussion:

  • % Complete ” This field draws a progress bar whose length is proportional (as measured by % Complete) to the taskbar that is drawn from the task start to finish. In other words, if the task % Complete value is 40%, the progress bar is exactly 40% as long as the taskbar that's drawn from the task start to the task finish.

  • % Work Complete ” This field draws a progress bar whose length is proportional (as measured by % Work Complete) to the taskbar that is drawn from the task start to finish. This field is fairly straightforward. Normally, the task % Work Complete is the task actual work divided by the task total work.

  • Complete Through ” This field is the standard for normal tasks. Project adds the actual duration for the task to the actual start date to determine the end of the bar. Although Project maintains the Complete Through field internally, it is only available to you as a selection in the From and To columns of bar styles. You can't display it as text in any view.

  • Stop and Resume ” When you record actual work for a resource assignment, Project places the date and time when the actual work finished in the task Stop field and it places that same date and time in the task Resume field. You can select Resume in the To column to draw a progress bar that shows the earliest date when work needs to resume on any assignment. The Resume bar gives very little information about the overall progress of the task. You might find occasion to draw a bar from the Resume date to the scheduled finish of the task to show the span of time during which some work still needs to be done.

  • Summary Progress ” This field applies to summary tasks. Just as with normal tasks, the Complete Through progress bar adds the actual duration to the actual start date. Also like normal tasks, the % Complete bar is drawn to the exact proportion of the summary task duration that the % Complete field indicates. The % Work Complete bar compares the amount of completed and uncompleted work. The Resume bar uses the earliest Resume date of any subtask.


Choosing from the drop-down list for From and To requires a strong knowledge of what each of these dates represents. A complete description of Project database fields is available in the Reference section of online Help, under Help, Contents and Index.

Placing Text in a Bar Chart

The Text tab of the Bar Styles dialog box lets you specify field data to be displayed at the left, right, top, and bottom of the bar, as well as inside the bar. You can't type text in these areas yourself; you can only designate fields that contain text (including dates, durations, percentages, and other numeric values) to be displayed. Any custom fields you have defined and entered data into can also be displayed around the bars.

For more information on defining and using custom fields, see "Customizing Fields," p. 847 .

One common modification made to Gantt Charts is to display resource initials , rather than full resource names, next to the tasks to which they are assigned. As shown in Figure 20.12, this change can produce a less-cluttered chart in the Gantt Chart view.

Figure 20.12. You can use the Text tab of the Bar Styles dialog box to place text from fields around the bars of the Gantt Chart view.



If you want to add text to taskbars then refer to the section "Adding Text to Taskbars" in the "Troubleshooting" section at the end of this chapter.

To select a field to be displayed beside a bar, select the bar row in the top of the Bar Styles dialog box, choose the Text tab, select one of the five rows for the desired text position on the bar, and select the name from the drop-down list. Click OK to accept the changes or click Cancel to close the dialog box without implementing the changes.

Applying Manual Formatting to Selected Bars

You can choose to change the appearance of bars for only selected tasks instead of redefining a bar style. Choose Format, Bar to open the Format Bar dialog box, shown in Figure 20.13. Notice that this dialog box is essentially the same as the lower portion of the Bar Styles dialog box. The task definition portion is omitted because changes here are applied not to task types but only to tasks that you select before you open this dialog box.

Figure 20.13. You can make selected taskbars stand out with formatting of their own.



For more information on changing the appearance of a taskbar refer to the section "Formatting the Taskbarting the Taskbar" in the "Troubleshooting" section at the end of this chapter.

Changes made in the Format Bar dialog box are considered to be manual formatting. There is no Undo operation available for these changes. To return a taskbar to its original formatting, you must select the modified tasks again and return to this dialog to reapply the standard settings. Project includes a Reset button in the Format Bar dialog box to make this step easy.

Changing the Layout of the Gantt Chart View

You can change the way bars are displayed in the Gantt Chart view by selecting Format, Layout. The Layout dialog box appears (see Figure 20.14). (You can also open this dialog box by right-clicking an open area on the timescale side of the Gantt Chart ”not on a bar or timescale label ”and choosing Layout from the shortcut menu.)

Figure 20.14. You can use the Layout dialog box to further define the appearance of taskbars in the Gantt Chart view.


The task linking lines can sometimes be distracting, particularly when the task list is sorted in non-ID order (for example, by Start date). You can turn off linking lines in the Links section of the Layout dialog box. You can also choose between two styles of lines: straight (the default setting)and rectilinear.

When dates are displayed as text around the bars, the Date Format option controls how the dates are displayed. You can choose an available format from the drop-down list. This doesn't change the default format for dates displayed elsewhere in the project, such as the Start or Finish fields. The first option on this list is Default, which returns you to the same format as specified on the View tab of the Options dialog box.

Use the Bar Height drop-down list to choose a vertical size for the bars. Sizes vary from 6 to 24 points, with a default of 12.

Project provides an easy method for designating that all tasks should be rolled up and represented on summary tasks. In the Layout dialog box, the Always Roll Up Gantt Bars option forces all tasks to behave as if the Roll Up Gantt Bar to Summary option in the Task Information dialog box has been turned on. When you select this option, milestone indicators and bars connecting subtask start and finish dates are drawn on the respective summary tasks.

The option Hide Rollup Bars When Summary Expanded eliminates the display of the summary bar itself when summary tasks are collapsed . The familiar black bar with down-pointing end shapes is not displayed under the rolled-up bars and markers. In addition, when summary tasks are expanded and the subtasks are visible, there are no rollup indicators drawn on the summary taskbars.

In Figure 20.15, the Layout options have been set to Always Roll Up Gantt Bars and to Hide Rollup Bars When Summary Expanded. Note the difference in the appearances of the bars for Summary Tasks 1 and 6.

Figure 20.15. Summary tasks can show rolled-up markers for their subtasks.


The Round Bars to Whole Days option determines how tasks with a duration less than the time period in the lowest displayed timescale tier are displayed. For example, if a task with a duration of five hours is displayed in a Gantt Chart view with the bottom tier set to days and this box is not selected, then the bar displays a length of exactly five hours. If the Round Bars to Whole Days check box is selected, the bar extends to a full day. Only the display of the task is modified; the actual duration and calculated start and finish dates remain the same.

The Show Bar Splits check box instructs Project to change the display of tasks that have been split. If this box is not checked, the taskbar simply extends the duration of the task from start to finish, including the split. If this box is turned on, Project creates a gap in the bar for a split task and the split-off pieces are connected visually with a dotted line. The Show Drawings check box enables you to place graphics on the Gantt Chart.

For more information on including drawn objects on a Gantt chart, see "Adding Graphics and Text to Gantt Charts," p. 247 .

A Bar Styles Definition Example

For summary tasks, you might find it useful to define styles that give a clear indication of the overall progress for the group of summarized subtasks. This would be helpful, for example, if you hid all subtasks to look at the big picture and just focused on the major phases of the project. Because summary tasks normally all look the same, no matter how many of their subtasks are completed, this customization would provide more information than the standard display. You could see at a glance which phases are completed, which are started but not finished, and which have not started yet.

If you want different summary task styles for different conditions, you must define a different style row for each condition that might occur. If all these custom styles are to be used for a single type of task (in this example, they will be applied to all summary tasks), the conditions would have to always occur in the same order over the lifecycle of the task. This is necessary so that the final condition for a task is placed lowest in the rows of styles, and will overwrite the earlier conditions. There are three conditions in the summary task lifecycle:

  • No subtasks have started ” Neither the Actual Start nor Actual Finish fields for the summary task have dates in them.

  • At least one subtask has started (and might even be finished), but not all subtasks are finished ” There is an actual start date but no actual finish date yet for the summary task.

  • All subtasks are finished ” Both actual dates are defined for the summary task.

Table 20.1 shows the style definitions required to draw summary bars representing changing conditions. The results are shown in Figure 20.16.

Figure 20.16. You can create multiple styles for a single Gantt Chart bar to apply formatting based on changing conditions.


Table 20.1. Summary Task Progress Bar Styles

Bar Appearance


Task Name




Show For




Summary: Not Started

Framed, dark gray

Gray bar, solid

Framed, dark gray





Summary: Started

Solid, black

Gray bar, solid

Framed, dark gray



Actual Start


Summary: Finished

Solid, black

Black bar, solid

Solid, black



Actual Start

Actual Finish

Summary: Progress


Black bar, solid




Actual Start

Complete Through

Using the Gantt Chart Wizard


A wizard in Project makes formatting the bars in a Gantt chart extremely easy. The Gantt Chart Wizard walks you through the various formatting options, asking questions about how you would like to have the bars displayed. The options are basically the same as those covered in the previous section "Formatting the Gantt Chart View Manually," but the wizard takes you through the process step by step. To access the Gantt Chart Wizard, you can choose Format, Gantt Chart Wizard; use the Gantt Chart Wizard button on the Formatting toolbar; or choose Gantt Chart Wizard from the Gantt Chart shortcut menu (accessed by right-clicking any blank area of the Gantt chart).


Changes made via the Gantt Chart Wizard are applied to the Gantt Chart that is currently displayed onscreen. If you run the wizard on the supplied Gantt Chart view, the default formatting will be lost. Instead, it is recommended that you make a copy of the standard Gantt Chart and modify the copy. Choose View, More Views, Gantt Chart, and Copy. Then apply the copy and run the wizard.

When you start the wizard, you are presented with a welcome screen. Click the Next button to see the first set of choices (see Figure 20.17). As you make each choice, you are taken to the next appropriate step, depending on your choice. Simply choose the desired option, and then click the Next button to move to the next step. You can click Back, Cancel, or Finish at any time. If you are unsure as to the meaning of a particular option, click the Help button in the dialog box title bar and then click the option about which you have a question.

Figure 20.17. The Gantt Chart Wizard walks you through formatting options for the Gantt Chart view.


The first decision requires selecting the basic way that tasks are displayed. Your choice here acts as a starting point for setting up the format of the bars on the Gantt chart. The possible starting format options are as follows :

  • Standard ” This is the same as the default Gantt Chart. At any time you can run the wizard again and choose Standard to undo any changes you've made to a Gantt chart.

  • Critical Path ” When you select this option, critical tasks ”that is, tasks that must be completed on time in order to meet the project deadline ”are displayed in red. This is a helpful view to use when you're trying to reduce the total duration of a project (referred to as "crashing the schedule").

  • Baseline ” When this option is selected, two bars per task show the original and current schedules (similar to the supplied Tracking Gantt Chart view). This is an appropriate choice when you're tracking a project that is already underway.

  • Other ” This option offers a list of 13 predefined formats you can use as is or modify as desired.

  • Custom Gantt Chart ” This option offers the most extensive choices and walks through all choices for formatting, one step at a time. These options include choices for the colors, patterns, and shapes of Critical, Normal, Summary, and Milestone tasks. You also have options for adding bars for baseline information or slack and for placing text next to bars.

Regardless of your starting format, the wizard prompts you for the kind of text to display in and around the bars. Not all database fields are available via the drop-down lists in the wizard. There are custom choices that allow for distinct definitions of the text formats for Normal, Summary, and Milestone tasks.

The final wizard question asks whether the linking lines should be drawn to display dependency relationships between the taskbars. After you have made all your choices, click Finish, then Format It, and then the Exit Wizard buttons .


If you are in doubt about the formatting you want on a Gantt Chart, or if you are unfamiliar with the extensive formatting options available, use the wizard as your starting point. After you exit the wizard, you can use the Bar Styles and Text Styles dialog boxes to tweak your design.

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Special Edition Using Microsoft Office Project 2003
Special Edition Using Microsoft Office Project 2003
ISBN: 0789730723
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 283
Authors: Tim Pyron

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