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Google Sheets is a great tool for organizing information and projects in just about any organization. It’s included with a Google Workspace account, and real-time collaboration and cloud sharing help you eliminate complicated back and forth with collaborators.
However, when you are ready to handle more complex projects, you may want to switch to more sophisticated project management methods. You can do this without resorting to expensive new software. All you need to do is grab a Gantt chart template for Google Sheets.
How to use a Gantt chart
A Gantt chart is a project management tool that helps you visualize your project timelines at a glance. It includes information about the tasks you need to complete, the start dates for each task, and the time it will take to complete each task.
Designing a Gantt chart helps you set realistic start and end dates for project and individual tasks, as it helps you easily see where timelines may overlap and overwhelm team members. It also helps you organize priorities and deadlines, as you can see how contingent tasks fit into the plan.
The basic layout of a Gantt chart is similar to that of a spreadsheet, making it an easy to use tool for a tool like Sheets.
How to make a Gantt chart in Sheets
Follow these steps to create a Gantt chart in Google Sheets from scratch.
(Don’t want to start from scratch? Take our Gantt chart template for Google Sheets!)
Copy a free template
Step 1: Create a sheet for the project
Open a new sheet in the app and enter your project information into the spreadsheet, just like you would if you were creating a basic project management system as a spreadsheet.
List the tasks in the project, with one row per task, in the leftmost column. For each task, include two additional columns:
- Start date: when you will start working on the task.
- End date: when you have completed the task.
Set the date format in the cells as you want.
Step 2: Add duration data
Under the project information in the worksheet, add the duration information by creating the following columns:
- Job name: as above.
- Start day: the day, noted as a number of days from the start day of task 1, which is 0.
- Duration: the number of days to complete the task.
You can manually enter the duration or calculate with this Google Sheet formula:
- End date – Start date = Duration
For example, if your start date is in column B and the end date is in column C, use this formula:
Repeat the formula for your entire to-do list by selecting the first duration cell where you entered the formula, clicking the blue box in the corner, and dragging it to the bottom of the column.
Step 3: Create a stacked bar chart
To visualize your data, you will start by creating a bar chart. To do this:
- Highlight the cells of the second table you created.
- Select “Insert” from the menu, then “Chart”.
This creates a stacked bar chart with your start days as the X axis. You can also see your duration highlighted on the bars in red.
Step 4: Change the settings on the bar chart to achieve a Gantt chart look
The first thing you want to do is get rid of the blue bars representing your start days. To do this:
- Click on the graph, then click on any blue bar to select them all.
- The “Graphics Editor” should open on the right. On the “Customize” tab, under “Series”, set “Fill Opacity” (which is 100%) to 0%.
This will eliminate the blue lines and your chart will look more like a Gantt chart.
Step 5: Get rid of the labels
To remove the column labels at the top of your chart, click the chart, and then click the Start Day or Duration label to select both.
Then press “delete” on your keyboard or in “Graphics editor” under “Customize” → “Caption” → “Position”, select “None. “
Step 6: Adjust the titles of your Gantt chart
You can name your chart after your project by double-clicking the existing chart title to highlight it, and then typing the new chart name. Or you can update the “Title Text” in “Graphics Editor” under “Customize” → “Graphics and Axis Titles”.
In the same section, you can edit the axis titles by clicking on the drop-down menu that says “Chart Title” and selecting the titles you want to edit.
You will then have a Gantt chart! The chart is linked to your worksheet tables, so any adjustments you make in the tables will automatically update the visual chart.
Step 7: Share the Gantt Chart with Collaborators
There are a number of ways you can share a Gantt chart in Google Sheets, depending on the preferences of your colleagues.
- Share the sheet in Google Drive. Click the “Share” button at the top right of your Google Sheets screen to adjust the sheet sharing settings. You can configure it so that everyone in your organization has access, that only certain email addresses have access, or that anyone with the link has access. Also choose the access levels: Editor, Commenter or Viewer. This sharing allows your employees to always have access to the most recent version of the graph.
- Email attached. Under “File” → “Email” → “Email this file”, you can send your sheet as an attachment via email. Once the “Send this file” window appears, you can select from a drop-down list the file format options: PDF, Open Office Spreadsheet, or Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet.
- Download the charter. Under “File” → “Download” you can download a version of your spreadsheet and Gantt chart in PDF, Microsoft Excel, OpenDocument and other formats.
Gantt chart template for Google Sheets
Don’t want to start from scratch? Take our Gantt chart template for Google Sheets and just enter your project data to get started!
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Google have a Gantt chart?
You can create a more sophisticated Gantt chart using Google Charts, a tool from Google Developers. Its chart gallery includes a guide to creating a Gantt chart. If you work in Sheets, there is no native Gantt chart template available, but you can grab our template above or follow the steps above to create your own.
What are Google Sheets templates?
A template in Google Sheets (or other Workspace apps, including Docs) is a file that you can share with coworkers, your organization, or publicly. It allows them to create a new file using your existing design and formulas. You can find them in the template gallery from your Google Sheets screen (or another app).