Microsoft Project 2013 allows for the manual and automatic entry of task data. The manual entry option simply records the name of the task you enter. It does not provide a duration or Start and Finish dates. The automatic entry provides an estimated duration of 1-day and Start and Finish dates based on today’s date. Figure 1 displays a sample manual entry task A, and a sample automatic entry task B.
Note that task B has a 1-day duration with a question mark to indicate that it is an estimate. It also has
Start and Finish dates and a Gantt chart bar of 1-day length.
This article describes setting the options for Manual entry and/or Automatic entry tasks. It also explores the task entry option’s effect on rescheduling your project.
Changing New Task Entry
There are two simple ways to change the new task entry option while working within a Microsoft Project 2013 project. The first way is to use the New Tasks drop down menu at the bottom left corner of the Screen, Figure 2.
Click on the New Tasks drop down menu and select your preferred method of task entry: Auto Scheduled or Manually Scheduled. In our example we select Auto Scheduled, Figure 3.
The second way to change the task entry option is to select the Task tab: Tasks ribbon option: and select the drop down Mode menu. Select the preferred method of data entry, Figure 4.
Changing Multiple Entries
Let’s say you want to change three of the manual entry tasks in Figure 5 to automatic entry.
Well, cutting and pasting the automatic entry in Task E will not work. Instead you will have to use your Tasks options again. Highlight the three Manual tasks that you want to become Automatic tasks, Figure 6.
Then select Task tab: Tasks ribbon option: Auto Schedule. Your B, C, and D tasks will now become Auto Scheduled, Figure 7.
Rescheduling and Manual Entry
Note that when you change a task duration, if the successor task is Manual entry it will not update or reschedule the task based on the new predecessor duration. In Figure 8, Task A is changed to a 4-day duration. Note that Task A and Task F are manual entries.
As displayed in Figure 9, all the successor tasks of Task A are automatically updated except, however, Task F does not reschedule. Instead of changing the dates for Task F, the relationship between Task E and F changes to a Finish-to-Start relationship with a negative lag, which most likely is not what you want.
It helps for task data entry to know whether the new task setting is set to Automatic data entry or Manual data entry. Microsoft Project 2013 allows for you to switch back and forth between Automatic entry and Manual entry during the task definition process.
If you use a Manual entry task embedded in Automatic tasks, note that the manual start and finish dates supersede its relationship to the predecessor task. This may result in an undesirable logic issue. Still when the duration and start and finish dates are not known but important a Manual entry mode may be suitable for that respective task.
Also, not discussed in this article is changing the entry default for all new project files. You may want to explore this feature in Files | Options: Schedule: Scheduling options for this project.