How to Create a Simple Gantt Chart in Any Version of Excel

Smartsheet Contributor Diana Ramos

March 4, 2019

In this article, you’ll find a comprehensive guide to creating the most effective Gantt chart for your projects across a variety of industries. We’ve included step-by-step instructions and videos on how to create your own customized Gantt chart in Microsoft Excel, versions 2000 and above.

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Manually create a Gantt chart in Excel

Time to complete: 30 minutes

How to Make a Gantt Chart Online in Excel 2007 and Above

Along with creating a Gantt chart using a predesigned template, you also have the ability to manually create your own Gantt chart in Excel, versions 2007 and above. To do so, follow the written steps, which works for both PCs and Macs:

1. Start by creating a data range in Excel that lists tasks, start date, and end date.


Create Task Range

2. Select the data range that you created that you want to make a Gantt chart for.

3. On the top navigation bar, select Insert on the menu ribbon.

4. In the Charts group, select the 2D Bar group, and click on the Stacked Bar option. The Stacked Bar is the closest option to a Gantt chart in Excel.


Stacked Bar Chart

5. Next, you’ll need to format the stacked bar chart to appear more like a Gantt chart. To do so, click the first data series, or the Start Date part of the bar.

6. Click on the Format tab and select Shape, then No Fill.


Format Chart Series

7. Reverse the task order so that the Gantt chart starts with the first task. Hold the Control key and select the Vertical Axis, or the Task axis.

8. Select Format Axis. Under the Axis Position part of the window, check the box for Categories in Reverse Order.


Categories in Reverse Order

9. Add a chart title by double clicking on the text box titled Chart Title at the top of the chart.

10. Format the axis title and color by double clicking on either axis. A popup window will open on the right side of the screen for you to edit the colors and lines of the axis.

11. You can further customize the chart by adding gridlines, labels, and bar colors with the formatting tools in Excel.

12. To add elements to your chart (like axis title, date labels, gridlines, and legends), click the chart area and on the Chart Design tab at the top of the navigation bar. Select Add Chart Element, located on the far left side of the page.


Add Chart Elements

13. To quickly change the layout of your Gantt chart, navigate back to the Chart Design tab and click on the Quick Layout button.


Add Quick Layouts

14. To change the colors within your chart, navigate back to the Chart Design tab, and click the Change Colors button.


Change Color Theme

At this point, you should have a Gantt chart that accurately portrays the start and end dates of your project tasks, giving you a visual representation of your project as a whole. You can use these steps to create Gantt charts for projects of all types and sizes based on your business needs.

For more information on what a Gantt chart is, who uses a Gantt chart, the features of a Gantt chart, and the benefits of leveraging a Gantt chart in your project, visit Guide to Gantt Charts. 

For detailed insight on what to look for when choosing the a Gantt chart software, visit Quick and Easy Gantt Chart Software, Tools, and Apps. And, if you’re looking for additional Gantt chart Excel templates for a variety of use cases, visit Gantt Chart Excel Templates.


How to Create a Gantt Chart Online in Excel 2000 and 2003


You can also create a Gantt chart in earlier versions of Excel (2000 and 2003). The steps to create a Gantt chart in Excel 2000 and 2003 are similar to the steps to create one in Excel 2007-current. To create a Gantt chart in Excel 2000 and 2003, follow the step-by-step instructions below:

  1. Start by creating a date range in Excel that lists tasks, start date, and end date.

  2. Select the data range that you want to make a Gantt chart for.

  3. Go to the top navigation bar and select the Chart Wizard button on the menu ribbon.

  4. Within the popup window, select Bar from the left hand column, then select Stacked Bar from the options on the right. Click Next.

  5. In the next section of the popup window, select the Series tab at the top.

  6. Add the series information for each set of data that you wish to include in your Gantt chart.

  7. Ideally, you should add a Start Date series, a Duration series, and an End Date series. Type in the appropriate name in the Name section, and select the appropriate values in the Values section of the window.

  8. Continue to add each series until all dates are plotted on your Gantt chart.

  9. Navigate to the Category (X) Axis Labels section at the bottom of the popup window.

  10. Select the range of data that represents your project tasks to add them to your Gantt chart.

  11. Click Finish at the bottom of the popup window.

  12. To clean up your Gantt chart axes, right click on the horizontal axis and select Format Axis.

  13. Click on the Font tab at the top of the popup window, and set the font size to 10.

  14. Click OK when you have finished to exit out of the popup window.

  15. Right click on the vertical axis and select Format Axis.

  16. Click on the Font tab at the top of the popup window, and set the font size to 10.

  17. Next, hide the first set of bars by changing their color.

  18. Right click on the first set of bars and click Format Data Series.

  19. In the popup window under the Patterns tab, change both the border and the area options to None to hide the first set of bars.

  20. Next, right click on the vertical axis that shows tasks and select Format Axis.

  21. In the popup window, select the Scale tab and check the box that says Categories in Reverse Order. This will reverse the order of the Gantt chart, so it shows the first tasks at the beginning and the last tasks at the end.

Now, you should have a customized Gantt chart that shows start and end dates for each project task, providing you with a visual overview of your project for improved visibility into your work.


Create Your Real-Time Gantt Chart in Smartsheet

Smartsheet offers a preformatted Gantt chart template, which makes it even easier to visualize your project and prioritize tasks. Automatically calculate duration, adjust task dates with drag-and-drop task bars, and update and share information with key stakeholders to increase visibility and improve project efficiency. Follow the steps below to create the most effective Gantt chart for your project.

1. Navigate to the Smartsheet app at

2. On the home screen, navigate to the upper left corner of the screen and click the three-lined icon to open the navigation Left Panel.

3. Click on the + icon, which will open up the Solution Center.


Smartsheet Solutions

4. On the left side panel, you can choose from a list of Solutions. Click on the Project option. This will open up all of the preformatted templates that already exist in Smartsheet, including the Project with Gantt Timeline template.


Project Template with Gantt in Smartsheet

5. Click on the Project with Gantt Timeline template and click Use. The pre-built Gantt chart will open.

6. Smartsheet will prompt you to name your sheet. Name the chart based on your project and click Save.


Save Project with Gantt Smartsheet

7. The new template will open and you can begin editing the preformatted template, based on your project needs.


Fill in Gantt Project Details Smartsheet

8. From there, you can begin to enter your tasks into the Task Name column.

9. Add start dates and end dates for each task under the Start Date and End Date columns.

10. As you enter the start and end dates, the duration of your tasks will automatically calculate in the chart.

11. As you add tasks, Smartsheet automatically creates your horizontal Gantt bars on the right side of the page. Unlike Excel, there is no need to format anything — Smartsheet will automatically reformat according to the information you input.


Automatically Formatted Task Bars

12. If you want to change the dates via the task bars, simply drag either end of the bar, and the corresponding dates and durations in the task table will automatically update.

13. From here, you can also add additional Gantt data directly in the chart, such as dependencies and tasks groups.

14. Switch between Gantt, grid, calendar, and card views by navigating to the top toolbar and clicking on Gantt View dropdown caret.


Change Views

15. A dropdown menu will appear, allowing you to change between the different views.

16. Access and manage your Gantt chart on your mobile device so you can see how your project is progressing at any time, from anywhere.

17. To customize your Gantt chart by changing the colors of your task bars, right click on a task bar and select Color Settings.


Change Color Settings

18. A color palette will appear. Select the color you want to change the bar to.

19. If you want to apply the same color to multiple task bars, hold down the Shift button on your keyboard and select all the bars. Then, release the Shift button, right click on any of the selected bars, and click Color Settings.

20. Proceed to change the color, based on your needs.

21. Continue to add dates and tasks, customize the chart, and input dependencies, milestones, and predecessors to better show your project and its corresponding tasks in a visual manner.

Improve Project Visibility with Real-Time Gantt Charts in Smartsheet

To effectively manage projects of any size and complexity, you need a Gantt chart to outline key project details, highlight critical paths, and identify which tasks affect the project's overall completion date. To handle all of these moving parts and still deliver your projects on time, you need a collaborative tool that helps you manage your projects in one cohesive, real-time place and empowers both project managers and non-project managers alike to plan, track, automate, and report their projects.

Smartsheet is an enterprise work execution platform that is fundamentally changing the way businesses and teams work. Over 78,000 brands and millions of information workers trust Smartsheet to help them accelerate business execution and address the volume and velocity of today's collaborative work.

Use Smartsheet to visualize your projects with interactive Gantt charts that allow you to customize the quantity and duration of your tasks, highlight key tasks with conditional formatting, and turn on critical path to view all tasks that impact your completion date. Share your Gantt chart with team members and stakeholders to improve project visibility and task accountability, ensuring all projects are delivered on time and that no task is missed.

Try Smartsheet to discover why professionals around the world use it to more efficiently track, manage, and report on projects.

Smartsheet Gantt Chart Project

Discover more collaborative, real-time Gantt charts in Smartsheet.

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