Celebrate 'The VLOOKUP Book' birthday with us. Last day to get 50% discount on the e-book (31 October only).

Click here for details

Quick and easy Gantt chart using Excel [templates]

Posted on February 18th, 2014 in Charts and Graphs , Learn Excel - 18 comments

Gantt charts are a very popular way to visually depict project plans. Today, let us learn how to use Excel to make quick & easy Project Plan Gantt Chart.

This is what we will be creating,

Quick gantt chart using Excel - download template

Step 1: Set up project plan grid

First step is simple.

In a blank worksheet, set up an empty grid like this:

Quick gantt chart - data entry grid explained

Key things to note:

  • Project start date goes in to cell C3
  • Project dates appear from cell D5 & D6 onwards, one day per column.
  • Make the grid as big as you want. I choose 20 activities x 120 days.

Step 2: Fill up dates

Now, lets load the dates in to the plan. The first day of the project is known (it is in cell C3.)

  1. Select D5 and point it to C3 by typing =C3
  2. Set D6 to the same value as D5 by typing = D6
  3. Now, both D5 & D6 contain the same date. (Why 2 dates? You will understand in a minute!)
  4. In next column (E), we want the next working day.
  5. So in E5 type =WORKDAY(D5, 1)
  6. Now, select D5:E5, format them so only DAY portion of date is shown. To do this, press CTRL+1 after selecting them, in Number tab, select Custom and type d, click ok.
  7. Select D6, format it so only the first letter of the month is shown instead of entire date. To do this, set number format code as MMMMM.
  8. Drag E5 sideways for all the dates.
  9. Drag D6 sideways for all the dates.
  10. Our dates are ready!

Here is a demo of all the steps:

Demo of formulas for filling up dates - Quick gantt chart using Excel

Step 3: Enter project plan data

Now that our grid is ready, enter the data. This is simple. Just type 1 whenever an activity is happening on a date. For example, if Activity 1 happens on 18th & 19th of February, type 1 in both cells.

Project plan data - Quick gantt chart template

Step 4: Calculating Duration

This is really simple. In the duration column, select first cell and type =COUNT(D7:DS7)

Note: Make sure you change the cell references based on the number of columns and where your data is!

Drag down the formula to get duration for all activities.

Step 5: Apply conditional formatting

Now that all the plan data is ready, lets tell Excel to highlight all 1′s so that we get a Gantt chart. Quick & Easy!

  1. Select the entire grid (excluding activity names, durations & dates)
  2. Go to Home > Conditional formatting > New rule (Related: Introduction to conditional formatting)
  3. Specify a rule to fill color in all cells with 1.
  4. Also, set cell formatting to ;;; so that the contents (ie 1s) are not visible. (Related: Making cell contents invisible)
  5. See the conditional formatting rule I have used below:

Conditional formatting rule for quick gantt chart - explained

Bonus trick: Visually separate weeks with a border

Since our plan has many weeks, it would be cool to show a vertical line between every week. To do this:

  1. Select the grid again.
  2. Add a new conditional formatting rule
  3. Select the type of rule as “Use a formula…”
  4. Use this formula =WEEKDAY(D$5) = 6
  5. Set up formatting so that right-side vertical border is shown when the rule is met.
  6. You are done!

Conditional formatting rule for highlighting weeks - quick gantt chart in excel

That’s all, our quick Gantt chart is ready

That is all. Your quick project plan is ready. Go ahead and show it off. Use it for an upcoming project and impress your boss.

Download the quick Gantt chart template

Click here to download the template. It contains instructions on how to modify the template. Go ahead and example the formulas, conditional formatting rules to understand more.

How do you like this quick & easy template?

Although I have a lot of complex project plan templates, often I rely something quick & easy like this. It simply works and lets me focus on the project at hand.

What about you? Do you use quick templates like this? Please share your experiences and ideas using comments.

More on Project Management using Excel

Are you a project manager or analyst? Here are a few more examples, templates & resources for you.

If you are a project manager or analyst, you would be working with Gantt charts, status reports, issue trackers & project dashboards every day. If you are tired of creating these from scratch, get my Excel Project Management template pack.

It contains 25+ Excel templates for various needs of project management – right from planning to tracking to reporting. All beautifully designed and easy to customize so that you can be an awesome project manager.

Click here to know more and get your copy today.

 

Your email address is safe with us. Our policies

Written by Chandoo
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Home: Chandoo.org Main Page
? Doubt: Ask an Excel Question

18 Responses to “Quick and easy Gantt chart using Excel [templates]”

  1. “Please share your experiences and ideas using comments”

    For those willing to go VBA, XL can do far more w/Gantt Charts. Compare to PapaGantt. https://sites.google.com/site/beyondexcel/project-updates/papagantt-thebigdaddyofxlganttcharts

    While making PapaGantt was neither quick nor easy, using PapaGantt is both, not just for displaying Gantts, but for scheduling tasks as well.

  2. Stef@n says:

    is it possible to get a xls(m) file ?
    instead of a zip-file with .xml-files ?
    i cannot open it with excel :/
    Regards
    Stef@n

  3. Darren "AusSteelMan" says:

    Thanks very much for this workbook idea.

    To slightly up-scale functionality I added:
    1. conditional format for when the cell value =2 to be red which could be used for critical path or other activity highlighting needs (milestones perhaps)
    2. conditional format for when the cell value =c to be green which could be used for showing activity progress
    3. conditional format for the same range where formula =DATE(YEAR(D$5),MONTH(D$5),DAY(D$5))=TODAY() and set custom to ;;; and cell fill colour to a light blue. This will highlight today down the whole table to allow quick assessment of activity progress to plan. Anything not green upto where the date indicator is shows activity is behind the plan. Opposite for tasks ahead of the plan.
    (There is probably a better way to get the same result but this works for now. If there is please post for us to share.)

    Hope this made enough sense.

    Also, thanks Craig for the link. I’ll have a better look soon.

    Regards,
    Darren

  4. Hey Chandoo,

    I actually made one of these for a friend of mine but added an extra level of automation.

    Rather than putting in 1 on all the dates the activity occurs, I added a column for start and end date of each project. Then I used formula along the lines of :

    =IF(AND(DateAtTop >= Start Date, DateAtTop <= End Date),1,"")

    Then used the same conditional formatting where 1 was coloured.

    I thought this was a nice touch, especially if a project lasts for many days.

    Let me know what you think ;)

    Lucas

    P.S. First time I've posted here, love your work btw!

  5. […] via Quick and easy Gantt chart using Excel [templates]. […]

  6. Prahlad Gorur says:

    Excellent, thanks for this tip and expample.
    I had a monthly reporting template very similar to this, but was done in excel which needed more manual inputs.
    I used your exmaple and updated my monthly group reporting plan.
    I further devided the day into 4 quarters to make it easy for us to followup on different tasks.
    Now, I just have to update the start date, and everything gets udpated by itself in fraction of a second.
    Thanks once again. love your daily udpates.

  7. Prajay Kumar says:

    Hi Chandoo,

    Can you guide on preparing an indian version of the captioned sheet. We have saturdays working :-(, and only one day weekly off on sunday.

    Regards-Prajay

  8. Hi Chandoo,very useful post.i need gantt chart for inventory module.

  9. […] Quick and easy Gantt chart using Excel […]

  10. Maria says:

    Hi.

    Really usefull post. I would like to know if i can also include weekends.

    Thank you

  11. Shafeeq says:

    Hi Chandoo, thank you for the great job, I was wondering if you can customize this sheet for Inventory planning purposes?!

    thank you indeed

  12. Leyum says:

    This was so helpful. ive been through about 10 different tutorial type things and this has to be the best so far, helped me out a great deal. and now my boss is happy i can make gantt charts!

    thanks

Leave a Reply