If you have had difficulty reading Microsoft Project’s Gantt chart, either because you had too little or too many gridlines, than you may want to become familiar with the numerous gridline features available to you.
Gridlines are supposed to make your Gantt chart easier to read. For instance they help you spot the day an activity commences or they help you match up a Gantt chart bar with the corresponding task in the activity table. Gridlines become particularly important when you want to inspect tasks on the Gantt chart or when you want to print the schedule so other stakeholders can examine the schedule. Further, if you ever attempted to scale down your schedule to fit it on an 11×17 sheet of paper then you may have wanted to adjust your Gantt chart gridlines.
This article examines some of the numerous gridline features in Microsoft Project 2013 that make the Gantt chart and associated task table easy to read.
We start with our demonstration schedule, which is a combination Air Cooled Chiller & Ice Storage System Installation. The schedule itself is not important, except to note that the project was updated through Thursday, March 19th, 2015, close of business. The project without gridline features is displayed in Figure 1.
As you can see, gridlines would significantly help to make the Gantt chart easier to read.
To access the gridline features right click on the Gantt chart and select Gridlines, Figure 2.
Let’s begin by displaying a black line on the Project Start date, Figure 3.
Do the same for the Project Finish. The result is displayed in Figure 4.
We now have marked the start date of the project and the current forecasted finish date.
Let’s now set a blue line for the Status Date, Figure 5.
The Gantt chart now should look similar to Figure 6.
Note that the Status Date, displayed by a blue line, is set to the close of business on Thursday. To make the individual task Gantt chart bars easier to extrapolate to the associated task table data set the set the Gantt Rows to display a dotted line on every row, Figure 7.
It would be helpful to mark each weekly time period with a red line and each day with a dotted orange line. The trick is knowing that the Middle Tier Column, Figure 8, refers to the weeks.
To verify this right click on the timescale and select Timescale, Figure 9.
In the Timescale dialog confirm that the Middle tier formatting Units is set to Weeks, Figure 10.
As you can see from Figure 10 you have many different time periods you can set the Units to. It works well for our particular schedule to set the Middle tier formatting Units to weeks. Now note that the Bottom Tier Column, Figure 11, refers to days.
We verify that the Bottom tier formatting is set to Days, Figure 12.
Our final Gantt chart, including start and finish lines, a status date line, Gantt Row lines, Weekly lines, and daily dotted lines is displayed in Figure 13.
There are numerous features in Microsoft Project’s Gridlines dialog. Knowing what each line in the Gridline dialog refers to is helpful. Using these Gridline features the Project Start and forecasted Project Finish dates can be readily identified. Note that the Status Date line will display at the close of business.
The Gantt Rows feature in Microsoft Project is nice for lining up the Gantt chart bars with the associated task name and other tabulated details.
Last, the key to marking the Gantt chart weekly and daily time periods is confirming that the Middle Tier Column Timescale Units is set to Weeks and the Bottom Tier Timescale Units is set to Days. These timescale units may be adjusted, as appropriate, for your particular schedule.