Adding Graphics and Text to Gantt Charts

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Adding Graphics and Text to Gantt Charts

You can significantly enhance the Gantt Chart view by adding graphic and text objects to draw attention to or explain particular events within the project. Microsoft Project provides a set of drawing tools to help you enhance the appearance of Gantt charts. The drawing tools produce graphic objects that can be moved, resized, and placed in front of, alongside of, or behind the taskbars.


Included among the drawing tools is a Text Box tool that lets you place free text anywhere in the Gantt Chart display. This section shows you how to create and modify graphics and text in the Gantt Chart view.


Graphic objects can be placed only in the timescale side of the Gantt Chart view. Graphic objects you place on the Gantt Chart view are not displayed when the Gantt Chart view is in the bottom pane of a combination view.

Introducing the Drawing Toolbar

You create text and graphic objects on the Gantt Chart view by using buttons on the Drawing toolbar. When the toolbar is displayed, you can create objects by selecting an object button and creating an example of the object on the Gantt Chart area. After the objects are created, you can modify them to create the effect you desire . Figure 7.13 shows an example of a text message overlaid on the Gantt Chart and an arrow directing your attention to the circled tasks that the message describes.

Figure 7.13. Text and graphics elements can be used to annotate a Gantt Chart or to emphasize one of its aspects.


To display the Drawing toolbar, choose Insert, Drawing or choose View, Toolbars, Drawing. You can also display the Drawing toolbar by right-clicking any toolbar and choosing Drawing from the shortcut menu.

Descriptions of the Drawing Buttons

The first button on the Drawing toolbar is a drop-down menu that provides options for arranging and editing the objects you draw. The next seven buttons on the toolbar are used to create objects on the Gantt Chart view. These buttons create lines, arrows, rectangles, ovals, arcs, polygons, and text boxes. The remaining two buttons provide access to various editing possibilities.

The Draw Drop-Down Menu

You use the Draw button when you want to arrange and edit the objects you draw. From its drop-down menu, it includes the following options:

  • Bring to Front Bring a selected object to the forefront, placing it before all other objects that originally overlaid it.

  • Send to Back Send an object to the back, placing it behind all other objects in the same area.

  • Bring Forward Move an object in front of other objects, one at a time, toward the viewer. Objects in front hide objects that are behind them.

  • Send Backward Move an object behind other objects, one at a time, away from the viewer.

  • Edit Points Change the shape of a polygon.

The Drawing Objects Buttons

The buttons that draw objects are described in the following sections. Table 7.1 shows each of the seven drawing buttons and describes its use.


With some objects, you can use the Shift key to create a perfectly symmetrical objectfor example, a perfect square, a perfect circle, or a perfect arc. To draw a square or circle, select the appropriate drawing button and then hold down the Shift key as you begin to drag the mouse to create the object.

Table 7.1. Drawing Buttons on the Drawing Toolbar



Click and Drag to Draw

Shift+Click and Drag to Draw



A line without arrowheads




A line with arrowheads




A rectangle

A perfect square



An elliptical figure

A perfect circle



An elliptical arc

A symmetrical arc from circles



A many-sided figure of any configuration



Text Box

A rectangular box for typing text

A perfect square for typing text

To add a drawing object to the Gantt Chart view timescale, follow these steps:

  1. Display the Gantt Chart view, if it is not already displayed.

  2. Choose Insert, Drawing to display the Drawing toolbar.

  3. Click the button for the object you want to draw.

  4. Move the mouse to the place you want to draw the object; the mouse pointer should be a crosshairs.

  5. Hold the mouse button down and drag to create the object.

  6. When you release the mouse button, the object is drawn.


The last two buttons on the toolbar are the Cycle Fill Color button and the Attach to Task button. The Cycle Fill Color button allows you to change the inside color of the selected object, cycling through the palette of color choices each time you click the button. With the Attach to Task button, you open the Format Drawing dialog box to change how an object is anchored to the Gantt Chart view or to modify the attributes of the object.


You can double-click the Polygon button to have the computer draw the final line that connects the last point to the starting point, producing a closed figure.

Working with Drawing Objects in the Gantt Chart View

You can hide, move, resize, copy, or delete objects you have drawn. Objects can be attached to a specific task or date so that when you zoom out, the object stays with the task or date it is attached to. The color of the border surrounding the object and the inside of the object can be changed to enhance the object's appearance.

Before you can make any changes to an object, you must first select the object you want to modify.

Selecting Objects

You can use the mouse to select objects in the timescale. Move the tip of the mouse pointer to an object's line or border. When a small cross appears below and to the right of the pointer arrow, click to select the object. When the object is selected, small black resizing handles appear around it. Only one object can be selected at a time.


For solid figures (rectangles, ellipses, arcs, or polygons with a fill pattern), you can point to the interior of an object to select it. This is easier than pointing to the border.

You can also use the keyboard to select objects. The F6 function key toggles back and forth between selecting the task table and a graphic object in the timescale. (If a combination view is displayed, the bottom view is also selected in turn if you press the F6 key.)


If you have created multiple drawing objects, when one of them is selected, you can use the Tab key to cycle the selection to the other drawing objects, one at a time. You can press Shift+Tab to cycle backward through the drawn objects.

Attaching Objects to a Taskbar or a Date

When you create an object, it has both horizontal and vertical attachment points. Horizontally, it is automatically attached to the date on the timescale where you created it. Vertically, an offset value dictates how far down from the Timescale tiers the object should be displayed. The vertical offset is more visible when you zoom in on the timescale. A drawn object stays with the date it is associated with as you scroll or zoom the timescale.


Be aware that if you zoom out in the Gantt Chart view, your objects might be placed on top of each other because the timescale is compressed.

If an object is attached to a date in the timescale, when you move the object, it remains attached to the timescale but at the new date and vertical position where you move it. You can see the attachment by examining the Size & Position tab of the Format Drawing dialog box for the object (see Figure 7.14).

Figure 7.14. You use the Format Drawing dialog box to attach an object to a task or to the timescale.


To view the Format Drawing dialog box, you can simply double-click most objects. Text box behavior is a bit different. If a text box is already selected, double-clicking it turns on text edit mode. If the text box isn't selected, double-clicking it opens the Format Drawing dialog box just like other drawing shapes does.


There are several other ways to display the Format Drawing dialog box. You can select the object and use the Attach to Task button on the Drawing toolbar. If you prefer to use the menu bar, you can choose Format, Drawing and choose Properties from the submenu. Or, to use the shortcut menu (see Figure 7.15), position the mouse pointer over the object so that the pointer displays a small cross to its right. Right-click to see the shortcut menu, and then select Properties to open the Format Drawing dialog box shown previously in Figure 7.14.

Figure 7.15. The drawing objects shortcut menu is a quick way to work with drawn objects.


Rather than have a drawn object attached to a date, you can attach it to a task in the table portion of the Gantt Chart view. To attach an object to a task, follow these steps:

  1. Make a note of the ID number of the task to which you want to attach the object. You need to enter the ID number on the dialog box, and there is no way to browse or search for the ID number after the dialog box is active.

  2. Activate the Format Drawing dialog box and choose the Size & Position tab.

  3. Choose the Attach to Task option button.

  4. Enter the task number in the ID text box. If you do not remember the ID number, you have to close the dialog box, find the number, and then come back to the dialog box.

  5. Attach the object to the beginning or the end of the taskbar by choosing the Attachment Point on the sample taskbar.

  6. The Horizontal and Vertical fields show the offset from the attachment point where the object's top-left corner will be placed. Positive offset values are to the right horizontally and down vertically. Negative offset values are to the left horizontally and up vertically. You should enter in both these text boxes unless you are absolutely certain that you know the values that will look best. The zero values ensure that the drawing object is displayed next to the taskbar. You then can use the mouse to reposition the object as desired.

    After the object is attached to the task, you can move it with the mouse, and the horizontal and vertical offset values are recorded automatically. The object remains attached to the task as you move the task.

  7. Click OK to return to the workspace.

If you later decide to unlink the object from the task to fix it at a particular date, return to the Size & Position tab and choose the Attach to Timescale button. Then move the task with the mouse to the preferred position.

Hiding Objects on the Gantt Chart View

The drawn objects you place on the Gantt Chart view remain visible and print with the Gantt Chart view unless you elect to hide them. You can hide them for a printing, for example, and then display them again later.

To hide the drawing objects, use these steps:

  1. Choose Format, Layout. The Layout dialog box is displayed (see Figure 7.16).

    Figure 7.16. Graphic objects are hidden from view if you clear the Show Drawings check box on the Layout dialog box.


  2. Clear the Show Drawings check box at the bottom.

  3. Click OK to implement the change.

Moving Objects

You can move an object by moving the mouse pointer over the object, away from the selection handles. Watch for the small cross to appear to the right of the pointer arrow, and then click and drag the object to a new position.


It is very easy to accidentally move a taskbar or create a new taskbar when your intention is to move or resize a graphic object. If the mouse pointer does not have the cross beside it, you are not moving the object. Do not click the mouse until the cross appears.

Resizing Objects

Although you can size an object by using the Height and Width fields at the bottom of the Size & Position tab in the Format Drawing dialog box (refer to Figure 7.14), it is much easier to use the mouse to achieve the same end.

Selection handles appear at each end of line and arrow objects. When a two-dimensional object is selected, its selection handles are evident in a rectangular array around the object. You can change the size of the object by moving the mouse pointer over one of the selection handles until the pointer changes into a pair of opposing arrows. Drag the handle to the position you desire (see Figure 7.17).

Figure 7.17. You can use the selection handles to resize an object.


The corner handles resize both of the sides that meet at the corner. For instance, if you use the selection handle in the lower-right corner, you can resize the right and bottom sides of the object at the same time. The handles along the top and bottom midpoints resize vertically, and the handles along the sides resize horizontally.


Use the Shift key while dragging one of the corner handles to resize the object proportionally along both horizontal and vertical dimensions.

Polygons are a special case when it comes to reshaping. Because a polygon has multiple sides, you can reshape it by adjusting its points. The points on a polygon are the locations where the shape changes direction. Sometimes points are called nodes .


To reshape a polygon, you must first select it. Then click the Draw button on the Drawing toolbar and choose Edit Points. The selection handles of a polygon disappear when you click the Edit Points option on the Draw drop-down list on the Drawing toolbar (see Figure 7.18). Instead, you see reshaping handles at the points. Use these handles to reposition the points and thus change the shape of the drawing. To move a connecting point, position the mouse pointer directly over the handle; when it turns into a large plus sign, click and drag to the desired shape. When you are finished reshaping the figure, click the Edit Points tool again to display the selection handles again.

Figure 7.18. The Edit Points option on the Drawing toolbar allows you to edit the points on a polygon.


If you want to increase or decrease the size of a polygon without changing its shape, you can make proportional changes to its Size fields on the Format Drawing dialog box. For example, to double the size of a selected polygon, double-click the polygon and double the values in the Height and Width fields in the Format Drawing dialog box.

Copying Objects

Sometimes when you draw an object in the Gantt Chart view, you might want to copy the object to another area of the chart or to another Project document. If the place to which you want to copy the object is visible onscreen, you can easily use the mouse to drag a copy of the object to the new location. However, if the place to which you want to copy the object is not visible, or you want to copy the object to another file, you're better off using the traditional methods for copying and pasting.

Follow these steps to copy an object with the mouse:

  1. Select the original object.

  2. Hold down the Ctrl key as you drag away from the original object. You will be dragging a copy of the original.

  3. Continue dragging the copy until it is in its new position. The copy appears as an outline until you release the mouse button.

  4. Release the mouse button when the copy is in position.

The traditional copy and paste techniques use the Clipboard to copy an object. You must use copy and paste to copy the object to another file.

Changing the Line and Fill Style of an Object

To enhance the appearance of a drawn object, you can change the thickness and color of the object's lines and borders. You can also apply a background pattern or color that fills the interior of the drawn object. You select both the outline and color options from the Line & Fill tab of the Format Drawing dialog box (see Figure 7.19).

Figure 7.19. You can customize the attributes of a line and the interior fill of an object.


To change an object's line and fill attributes, use these steps:

  1. Select the object and display the Format Drawing dialog box by double-clicking the object or by choosing Format, Drawing, and selecting Properties.

  2. Select the Line & Fill tab.

  3. If you want the line or border to be invisible, choose the None button in the Line section. If you select a line color or line style, the Custom button is activated automatically.

  4. To select the color for a line, choose a sample color band from the drop-down list below the Color label.

  5. To select the thickness of a line, choose a sample line from the drop-down list below the Line label.

  6. If you want the background of the object to be transparent so that you can see taskbars or other objects behind the object, choose the None button in the Fill section. If you choose a color or a pattern, the Custom button is activated automatically.

  7. The default fill pattern is solid; the default color is white. If you want to display a different color in the interior of the object, simply select a different color from the drop-down list below the Color label. Selecting the object and using the Cycle Fill Color button on the Drawing toolbar can also change the color of an object.

  8. Whatever is black in the pattern is displayed in the color you select. Whatever is white in the pattern remains white. If you leave the default white color selected and select a pattern, you get a white pattern color on a white background. Select a color for the pattern in order to see the pattern on the object.

  9. Choose a pattern by selecting a sample from the drop-down list below the Pattern label. The first pattern in the entry list appears white. It is a clear pattern, equivalent to choosing the None button in the Fill section. The second pattern in the entry list is solid black. Choose the solid band to display a solid background in the color you selected from the Color field. The remaining patterns are displayed against a white background, with the pattern appearing in the foreground in the color you selected from the Color field.

  10. Use the Preview box at the lower-right corner of the tab to assess the choices you have made. Change the choices until the Preview box looks the way you want the object to look.

  11. Click OK to implement the changes. Choose Cancel to leave the object unchanged.

Deleting Objects

You can delete any object by simply selecting it and then pressing the Delete key.

Placing Independent Text on the Gantt Chart

You use the Text Box drawing button to place text on the Gantt Chart time line. Text added with this method is not stored in a database field associated with any particular task; it is considered to be independent . After you draw the text box on the screen, enter the text into the box. You can change the line and fill attributes, as well as the position of the text box, as described in the preceding sections. You can also edit the text and select the fonts for the text display.

Creating a Text Box

To display a text message in the Gantt Chart view, you need to bring into view the area of the time line where the message is to appear and then follow these steps:

  1. graphics/textbox_icon.gif

    Click the Text Box button on the Drawing toolbar.

  2. Drag the mouse in the Gantt Chart view to create a box at the approximate location and of the approximate dimension you need. You can later adjust the box to fit the text. An insertion point cursor then blinks in the text box.

  3. Type the text that you want to appear in the box. The text automatically word-wraps within the current size of the text box. It also word-wraps automatically when you resize the text box later. Press Enter when you want to start a paragraph on a new line in the text box.

  4. When you finish entering text, click outside the text box.

Editing the Text in a Text Box

To modify the text in a text box, click to select the text box, and then click again to activate the edit mode. Make sure you don't double-click the text box, as this displays the Format Drawing dialog box. When the edit mode is active, the mouse pointer appears as a capital I (sometimes referred to as the I-beam ) within the text box. The flashing cursor indicates the keyboard position within the text; if you begin typing, the text is entered at the point of the flashing cursor (see Figure 7.20).

Figure 7.20. You can use normal editing techniques in a text box.


To edit text inside a text box, you can use many of the text-editing techniques with which you are already familiar: For example, you can double-click a word to select it, press the Delete key to remove characters to the right of the flashing cursor, and press the Backspace key to remove characters to the left of the flashing cursor.

After you edit the text, click outside the text box.


Unlike with the other drawn objects, selecting the interior of the text box does not allow you to move it. Instead, you are allowed to select formatting options for the entire text box or edit the text.

Changing the Text Font

The only method for changing the font or font attributes of text in a text box is through the menu; the formatting options on the Formatting toolbar are deactivated when the text box is selected. You choose the font or font attributes for the text by selecting the text box and choosing Format, Font. Then you can choose the font type, color, style, or size desired.

Your selections are applied to all text within the text box. You cannot apply different fonts or font attributes to individual words or phrases within a text box. Text within a text box is left aligned, and it cannot be centered or right aligned.

Changing the Properties of a Text Box

When you create a text box, it is automatically given a lined border and white background fill. If you want the text to float freely without lines so that the Gantt chart shows through the text box, you must choose the None button in both the Line & Fill sections of the Format Drawing dialog box.

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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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