Home > Microsoft Project, planning > Microsoft Project Tutorial Part 27 – WBS (Work breakdown structure)

Microsoft Project Tutorial Part 27 – WBS (Work breakdown structure)

Every time I write a new post in my tutorial, I think it will be the last. And then I realize that there is something I’ve missed. And of course, I’ve missed the grouping and filtering functionality.

The most basic grouping functionality has already been covered: the usage of heading tasks:


This is, if you’ve forgotten (or missed that class), achieved by selecting tasks A1 & A2 and clicking Indent

All tasks have an ID but they also have a WBS code. WBS stands for work breakdown structure and if you right click a column and select Insert column, you can select to insert the WBS field.


The column to the left is the ID field while the WBS field is the field to the right.

You can actually customize the WBS codes. This is very useful if you have inserted projects, when both the ID column and WBS column will have duplicates.

So, to customize the WBS code, you select Project—>WBS—>Define Code.

This dialog box is empty if you view it on a new project, which means numeric values are used and the different levels are divided by dots(.).

On the first row, you can see a preview of your defined code. On the second row, you can specify a Project Code Prefix, and this is as I mentioned; a very good thing if you have inserted project files.

In the grid, each row specifies a level in the WBS code and if a level isn’t defined, the rule with numbers and dots is used. On each level you specify what kind of symbols divides the different values and here you most commonly choose between numbers and letters. You can also see that you can choose between uppercase and lowercase. In the column length, you can specify how many signs can be used in that position, so if you select 1 there can only be 1,2,3,4,5,6.7.8 and 9 in that position. In the separator position you specify which separator is used.

As you can see in the bottom of the dialog box, you can also select to not making the WBS code automatic. The reason for this is that if you refer to this number in other documentation and the insertion of new tasks are done, the WBS codes of other tasks can be changed.


Confirm with OK and have fun with your WBS codes!

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  1. NY-LA Rising
    2009/09/24 at 6:20 pm

    Thanks for the info. I’m new to Project (first timer) and learning. How does one get the actual WBS column to display next to the task?

    • Anna Forss
      2009/09/26 at 7:38 am

      Right click the Task column header, select Insert Field. Find field name WBS Code and confirm. There is also another post in my tutorial covering the customizing of the gantt chart. here you can find additional info

  2. kike
    2010/03/12 at 1:04 am

    tks. it was helpfull, i was having problems importing to primavera from project because WBS code wasn´t defined tks from mexico

  3. 2012/05/04 at 9:53 pm

    Thanks for the info, first timer, explains the WBS very well i was starting to get a little confused.

    • Anna Forss
      2012/09/14 at 12:40 pm

      Glad to hear that I could be of help. Well Project is an annoying program before you get a hang of it

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