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A spreadsheet is the simplest tool for project management and other business operations. Microsoft Excel is one of the most popular and accessible tools for creating and managing spreadsheets, so it’s naturally a go-to for project managers who don’t have access (or need to ‘a) more robust project management software.
When projects get more complex, you can always keep track of them in the humble spreadsheet. Take our Gantt chart Excel template to improve your project management game without investing in new software.
How to use a Gantt chart
A Gantt chart is a project management tool used by teams to create a visual timeline of a project. It includes a list of tasks for the project and project dates, with bars representing the duration of each task, as well as its start and end dates.
Project managers and teams use Gantt charts to visualize the timeline and workload of a project. The tool makes it easy to set achievable delivery dates, as it’s easy to see and adjust the time spent on potential tasks.
The layout of a basic Gantt chart is similar to the information you find in a spreadsheet, so it’s easy to create the visual using a tool like Excel.
Gantt chart excel template
With a few simple formulas and parameters, you can create a Gantt chart in Excel that gives you a visual view of your project at a glance.
If you want to skip a few steps, we’ve created a simple Gantt Chart Excel template that you can download here:
Download a free template
This is a basic template that you can use to set up a Gantt chart for any project. Once you’ve updated it with data from your project, you can make changes to adjust the appearance of the chart and add more complexity to your project.
How to edit a Gantt chart template in Excel
Once you’ve uploaded your basic Gantt chart to Excel, start by entering your project information into it.
Then you can make changes to make it look as you want.
Eliminate empty space
Depending on your earliest start date, your Gantt chart may have unused space along the left between your task names and your chart. To remove them and make better use of the space on your chart:
- Right click on the first start date in the worksheet and select “Format Cells.” A “Format Cells” window will open.
- Under “Number”> “General” you will see a number in a field called “Example”. This number represents the date shown in your worksheet (Excel represents numbers based on the number of days since January 1, 1900). Highlight and copy this number.
- Press “Cancel” to close the box without making any changes.
- Click on a date in your Gantt chart to select all dates. Then right-click and select “Format Axis” from the menu.
- Under “Axis Options,” change “Minimum” from “Auto” to “Fixed” and paste the number you copied in step two.
Change the number of dates displayed in the graph
The duration of your entire project will determine how many dates you want to display in the chart. For example, if it’s a 30-day project, you might want to show both dates. But if this is a six month project, you might want to only show the 1st and 15th of each month to avoid overloading your chart.
To customize the display of dates on your Excel Gantt chart:
- Click on a date in your Gantt chart to select all the dates. Then right-click and select “Format Axis” from the menu.
- Under “Axis options”, change “Main unit” and “Minor unit” from “Auto” to “Fixed”.
- Set the “Main unit” number to the interval you want to display between days. For example, if you want to display the start and middle of each month, enter 15.
- Set the number “Minor Unit” to the interval in which you want to display the check marks between the displayed dates. For example, if your “primary unit” is 15, you might want a check mark every five days for an additional guideline.
Most Gantt chart software displays wider bars and less white space than what Excel automatically generates in a bar chart. You can achieve this effect in Excel with a quick adjustment of your chart.
- Click on one of the bars in your Gantt chart to select all the bars.
- Right click and select “Format Data Series” from the menu. A “Format Data Series” window will open.
- Under “Series Options” use the slider to set “Series Overlap” to 100% (up to “Overlap”).
- In the same tab, use the second slider to set “Gap Width” to 0% (far left to “No Gap”).
Update your Gantt chart with changes made to the project
Now that you have the chart the way you want it, you can update it by editing the data in the Excel table. You can:
- Add or remove tasks by inserting a row above the bottom row of the list.
- Change the start dates and durations of the tasks by editing the corresponding cells.
- Share the spreadsheet with your colleagues for real-time collaboration through Microsoft 365.
- Save the Excel chart as an image or PDF to share a snapshot with colleagues.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a Gantt chart template in Microsoft Excel?
Excel does not include a native Gantt chart template, but you can download the above template and then download it for use in the program.
How to create a Gantt chart in Microsoft Excel?
To create a Gantt chart in Excel, you will enter project data into an Excel table and create a stacked bar chart. To get the look of a Gantt chart, you need to make a few changes to the way the data is presented.