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.
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.
The list of tasks will be in reverse order in the chart, so you can format the axis, to change the order.
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.
Finally, to make the bars taller, adjust the gap width, to zero or a very low percentage.
The finished chart will show the timeline for the project tasks.
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