Home > Microsoft Project, Uncategorized > Microsoft Project Tutorial – Part 6 Customize your Gantt chart in Microsoft Project

Microsoft Project Tutorial – Part 6 Customize your Gantt chart in Microsoft Project

The main reason for people starting to use Microsoft Project is probably the Gantt chart, but this is also a common source for annoyance. So, here are some tips on how to customize the chart,

First, we start by introducing the term View. When you look at Microsoft Project, you have a view activated. Which one can you see by activating the View menu. All the options under the first three parts are views. The reason for the division line is that the views are connected to a certain type of data: Task views and Resource views. We’re still working with Task views so keep to these for now. We’ll get into the other concepts later.

You can just start by flipping through the different options. As you can see, they display different information. Then, flip back to the Gantt chart.

Before you start customizing, you can create your own copy of the Gantt chart. By doing so, you can flip back later. You can also have a number of Gantt charts so you can easily flip between different settings.

To create your own copy of the Gantt chart, select View—>More views. Select Gantt Chart in the list and click Copy.


Type in a name and confirm with OK. Observe that if you unselect Show in menu, you will have to go to More views dialog box to select your view.


We’ll leave the table for now and get to the actual chart. You’ve probably noticed the butcons for zooming in and zooming out in the time scale, but if you want to change this to what you want, double click the time scale or select Format—>Time scale.


Start by selecting Timescale Options. Here you specify how many rows the time scale will have: 1-3. Then you can move on to the tabs to specify each row. You then specify unit, label, count, etc for each tab. In Sweden, we’re really into week numbers so here we often change the week labels to 1,2…52. This means week numbers.

If you want to increase the space between the different items (in this case week days), increase Size.

Confirm with OK.

You can now double click in the space of the chart (outside a bar) or select Format—>Bar Styles.

Here you can select each row in the top list and in the bottom part of the dialog box specify how the type is to be visualized. Observe that you can change in the upper part which criteria are to be met and which columns are to be used for visualizing. Here you can for example see and change Milestones, which are always displayed on Start Date, even if they have duration. Another tip is that if you add a * before the name, which you also can change to what ever term you use, Style names starting with * will not be added to the label specification on print outs.


Also, remember to activate the tab Text in the bottom part. Here you can for each row in the top part specify which text is to be displayed next to the bar type. In this example, you can see that the content of the column Resource Names is displayed on the Right side of normal tasks. Many change this to Resource Initials. Confirm with OK.


If you double click a bar in the chart you can make the changes to that specific bar:


You can also change the gridlines. Select Format—>Grid lines. Select on the left side which line type you want to change and make the changes on the right side. If you want some Excel look and feeling: change to dotted line types for Gantt Rows and Bottom Tier Column. This will create a grid. This is for example good if the bottom tier shows different weeks. Then you can see which tasks occur during the different weeks of the project.

If you add grid lines, the links between the bars can make the diagram hard to read. To hide these, select Format—>Layout. Here you can for example hide the links and change the date format in the diagram.


In my project, I often have one Gantt chart with grid lines and without Links and one Gantt chart with the links but without the gridlines.

If you think these options are too hard to grasp, select Format—>Gantt Chart Wizard instead. Here you can follow a guide which can include everything from five to 50 steps depending on how complicated you want to make it.


  1. 2012/08/28 at 8:59 am

    Hi Anna

    when I make a Printout of my running projects (A Gannt-Chart with ca 200 Tasks) I would like to see the horizontal Line separating the Tasks in the task-Column extending to the right into the Gannt Chart itself. That would make it easier to correlate a Gannt-Bar to the far right with the Taskname on the far left. Can this be done?

    • Anna Forss
      2012/09/14 at 12:37 pm

      not that I know…

  2. 2012/08/28 at 9:01 am

    I forgot: I’m using MS Project 2007 and 2010

  3. 2012/08/28 at 9:47 am

    I figured it out (I’m using a german Version of MPP and translation was the challenge) 🙂

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