Simple Project Planning With Excel Gantt Chart

If you’re building a new city, or plotting world domination, you’ll need a powerful project management tool, such as Microsoft Project. For smaller projects, you can list your tasks in Excel, and create a Gantt chart, to show the timeline.

List the Project Tasks

In this example, we’re creating the company budget for next year. The first step is to list all the tasks on an Excel worksheet. The starting date for the first task is entered in column B, and the estimated days for each task is entered in column C.

Then, in cell B3, the WORKDAY function is used to calculate the starting date for the second task. It calculates the date based on the start date of the previous task, the number of days for the previous task, and the days in the list of holidays, on a different worksheet.

=WORKDAY(B2,C2,HolidayList)

GanttChart01

Create the Gantt Chart

To create a Gantt chart, select cells A1:C8, and insert a stacked Bar chart. Then, format the Start Date series with no fill colour, and remove the chart legend.

GanttChart02b

The list of tasks will be in reverse order in the chart, so you can format the axis, to change the order.

GanttChart02

The minimum date on the axis is automatically set, and you can adjust it, to reduce the gap between the axis and the first task.

GanttChart04

Finally, to make the bars taller, adjust the gap width, to zero or a very low percentage.

GanttChart03

The finished chart will show the timeline for the project tasks.

GanttChart05

More on Gantt Charts

For a collection of project management tools, including Gantt charts, take a look at Chandoo’s Excel Project Management Template kit. All the setup work has been done for you – you just have to fill in your project details.

To learn more about Excel Gantt charts, visit Jon Peltier’s website, and check his list of Excel Gantt Chart resources. There are links to Jon’s excellent Gantt chart articles, and many other helpful links.

Download the Sample Gantt Chart File

To see the task list and Gantt chart, and test the WORKDAY formula, you can download the sample Excel Gantt chart workbook. The file is in Excel 2007 format, and is zipped. There are no macros in the file.

Go to the Excel Sample Files page on the Contextures website. In the Charts and Graphics section, look for CH0004 – Gantt Chart.

Watch the Gantt Chart Video

To see the steps for creating the WORKDAY formula and Gantt chart, you can watch this short Excel video tutorial.

Or watch on YouTube: Project Timeline with Excel Gantt Chart
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7 Responses

  1. Jason Morin says:

    Thanks for this posting. I often get asked why anyone would build a Gantt chart in Excel when it’s so easy to do in Microsoft Project? My response is a) not everyone has Microsoft Project on their PC and b) not everyone is comfortable using Microsoft Project but are comfortable working in Excel.

  2. @Jason, you’re right! Microsoft Project is a great tool, if you need it, but I haven’t seen it installed on many desktops, at client sites.

  3. Excel Gantt Chart Trainer says:

    Great tutorial, you can also reverse the category order so that the date appears at the top of the Gantt chart.

  4. Jenny says:

    Thanks. Where is the video by the way?

  5. @Jenny, I added a new link to the video — hope you can see it now.

  6. Michael says:

    Nice tutorial… very thorough explanation. Here’s a similar article I prepared along with a free downloadable Gantt Chart Project Plan template in Excel. http://www.mlynn.org/2012/09/excel-project-planning-spreadsheet-updated-version-3/ Enjoy!

  1. June 21, 2013

    […] other project tools, you can still do some good planning with a spreadsheet system like Excel. This article shows you a nice way to do Gantt charts using only Excel. For small projects, this could be a good […]

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