Create An Online Gantt Chart in Minutes

Gantt Chart Project Timeline
Example of a Gantt chart from the Smartsheet Project Management template library

Show off your project plans with Smartsheet’s interactive Gantt chart software. Smartsheet’s online project management tool takes the best power-features of project planning software like MS Project, marries it with the ease of use of an online spreadsheet, and then layers in team collaboration and time-saving automation features. It’s the easiest way to visualize your project!

What is a Gantt Chart?

A Gantt chart is a timeline view that makes it easy to see how a project is tracking. You can visualize project tasks and see how they relate to each other as projects progress over time. Use this tool to simplify your tasks and details with a visual project timeline by transforming task names, start dates, durations, and end dates into cascading horizontal bar charts.

With a Gantt you can plan out all of your tasks, so complex projects are manageable and easy to tackle. You can use a Gantt to figure out the minimum delivery time for your project and to schedule the right people when they’re available to get your project finished efficiently.

How to Make Your Own Gantt

To get started making your own Gantt:

  • list out all of the tasks in your project
  • identify the earliest start date for each task
  • determine the amount of time you need to accomplish each task

With these basics detailed, you can make a simple Gantt.

If your project is more complicated, with tasks that are dependant on others and a few key dates before your final deadline, you can make your Gantt more complex by adding these elements to your timeline:

  • Dependencies These are tasks that are dependent on each other – task A needs to happen before you can start task B.
  • Predecessor tasks These are used to create dependencies between tasks.
  • Milestones These are key dates that are important to highlight in your project plan.

Your Gantt can tell a powerful visual story. Color code the bars to highlight different people on your team or specific resources.

Traditionally made with graph paper, then spreadsheets, then MS Project, then Smartsheet.

Easy drag and drop Gantt chart

History of Gantt Charts

The first Gantt chart was created in the mid 1890s by Karol Adamiecki, a Polish engineer who was interested in management ideas and techniques. He named it a harmonogram and only published the chart in Polish, which limited widespread use. It wasn’t until 15 years later that Henry Gantt devised his own version of Adamiecki’s project schedule and published it in English, making it available to a vastly larger population.

One of the first high-profile applications was by the United States during World War I. Since then, Gantt charts have been used in many large projects such as the construction of the Hoover Dam and the US Interstate highway network.

Originally, Gantt charts required preparation by hand -- meaning that whenever there was a project change, the chart needed to be edited or redrawn completely. Since projects often see dramatic change from start to finish, the usefulness of a Gantt was limited. In the 1980s, with the invention of the personal computer, widespread creation of complex and elaborate charts was finally possible. By the end of the 1990s, the advent of the internet as well as high rates of collaboration over networks encouraged Gantt charts to become a popular feature of many web-based applications and tools.

Example of Simple Gantt Graphic

Smartsheet Gantt Features

Seamless, Easy to Use

Sign in with your Google account info and you’ll instantly be collaborating on project tasks, files and discussions. You can import/export between Google Spreadsheet and Smartsheet and turn your spreadsheet into a super-powered project.

Simple Drag and Drop Gantt View

Gantt software has never been so interactive and easy to change (even for those who’ve never created a Gantt before!). Drag and drop to adjust start or end date milestones, or to build dependencies between tasks. If you can click a mouse or tap a screen, you can adjust your Gantt. You can also use the “% Complete” bar to know where your project stands at a glance.

Schedule Projects, Get Real-Time Updates

Share the project with your team and collaborate in real-time. Because Smartsheet’s collaboration model makes it easy for others to participate, you won’t have to worry about being the bottleneck for updating the project milestones. Get your team involved in updating their tasks directly in the project management tool, and set reminders to be alerted whenever changes are made.

Let Your Gantt Do the Work

Not only are Gantt charts easy to build in Smartsheet, they look good too. Your chart will instantly tell a compelling visual story. When you assign team members to work on tasks, add a rule with Smartsheet’s conditional formatting capability to show their task bars in the same color (e.g. all of Ted’s task bars are BLUE). Or, show status levels in different colors (e.g. “All at-risk tasks are RED). No more worrying if you caught everything or if everything’s on schedule.

Schedule and Manage Projects Your Way

Smartsheet is online, 100% web-based… meaning you can use it with MacOS, Linux, Windows, on your laptop, your Android smartphone, your iPhone & iPad.

Plus you can edit projects online however you like: Adjust timelines and define milestones in the familiar spreadsheet-like grid format and switch to the Gantt view for status meetings. Draw dependencies and reschedule tasks, and view in the Calendar. Smartsheet puts you in the driver’s seat.

Share Your Gantt Projects With Others — Fast

With Smartsheet, you can set your project sheet to automatically be sent to your team on a recurring basis (say every week), or you can:

  • Embed in a PPT for your next status meeting.
  • Print in full color. The new color palette makes for great looking charts!
  • Export as a PNG or PDF and attach to an email.

It's Easy to Get Started

Whether you import an existing Microsoft Project (MPP) file, customize one of the many templates in our Template Gallery, or start from scratch, you’ll have a visual project in no time.

Gantt Instructional Videos

How To Make a Basic Gantt Chart

Watch Video

Make a Basic Gantt - Video Transcript

Gantt Charts allows us to visualize and see how project tasks relate to each other and progress over time.

There are a couple of ways to start a project with a Gantt view.

You can open a project template, import an existing MS project, Google spreadsheet or Excel file, or start a new project sheet that is preset for Gantt viewing.

We'll go ahead and open this Q4 Product Launch.

To open the Gantt, click the 'Gantt View' button on the toolbar.

We can adjust the width of the Gantt by dragging it's edge.

At the top-left side of the Gantt are buttons to zoom in or out to weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly perspectives.

The Gantt shows workdays in white, non-workdays in grey, and holidays in light pink.

The current day is marked with a black dash line along the right side of the column.

Simply enter the start date and the task will appear in the Gantt as a colored bar for 1 day.

We can change the color if we like by right-clicking on the bar and selecting a different color, or by using the Conditional Formatting tool.

Here we will enable a rule for past due items to be marked in red in the Gantt.

For the Gantt to work properly, we need 2 'Date' columns, a 'Predecessor' column and a 'Duration' column.

The 'Duration' column counts the number of workdays for the task and will account for non-working days such as weekends or holidays.

Here we can see the blue task spanning 6 days because of the weekend.

We can also create milestones by 
entering '0' into the 'Duration' column.

A diamond shape will then appear on the start date.

The Gantt is interactive.

We can move the date range by clicking in the middle and dragging horizontally, or dragging the edges to change it's duration.

If we click and drag up or down, a black arrow will appear.

Simply drag and drop it to another task and 
instantly create a 'Task dependency'.

A 'Task dependency' is a link from one task to another that will automate the dependent task's start and end date.

For example, if we need to change the duration of a task, every dependent task will adjust to create the new schedule automatically.

To break a 'Task dependency', simply move the dependent task to a new start date or delete the row number in the 'Predecessor' column of the task, and the black arrow will disappear.

The 'Predecessor' column will contain the row number of the preceding task when it becomes a 'Task dependency'.

If we click on the pencil icon, the 'Edit Predecessor' window will open allowing you to manually edit the dependencies for that task.

Notice that you can change the type of dependency, delete the dependency altogether, or enter "Lag days', which is a way to schedule the start date of the dependent task a specified number of days from the preceding task.

Let's take a look at other columns that relate information into the Gantt.

The 'Percent Complete' column allows you to display your progress.

As we enter our progress for each task, it'll reflect in the timeline and over the entire project.

We can organize tasks by creating a row hierarchy using the Indent tool.

In the Gantt, parent rows are grey and can't be moved. That's because they calculate information from their child rows and will automatically adjust, as we can see when we make changes to the purple task and the orange task.

Within the parent row, we can also see a weighted average of the 'Percent Complete' column, that will change as progress is updated, the earliest start date and the latest end date for the group of tasks rolled up into the parent row.

To change the settings of the Gantt, the button is located next to the zoom buttons.

Here, you can change the details of how the Gantt functions.

For example, currently our Gantt displays information from the 'Task name' column, but I could change it to display information from the 'Assigned To' column.

Or, if my company didn't work on Fridays, I could press the 'Edit' button and uncheck 'Friday'.

We can also manage holidays to make sure they are accounted for when scheduling out the project.

Here we can see Friday columns are now in grey.

We also have the option to print the Gantt displaying any or none of the columns, send it as an email attachment straight out of Smartsheet, or export it as a PNG file to incorporate with other digital files and presentations providing simple visualization, automation and management of your projects.

And that's the Gantt view in Smartsheet.


Gantt Charts in Smartsheet

Watch Video

Gantt Charts - Video Transcript

Gantt charts provide a timeline view that makes it easy to see how a project is tracking.

Your Gantt can be simple or more detailed with dependencies, predecessor tasks, and milestones. You can add these options at any time in Gantt Settings.

You can create a new project sheet pre-set to display Gantt View, import from Microsoft Excel or Project or use a Gantt template from our gallery.

Let's add a simple Gantt to a sheet for upcoming product launch.

To make a chart, your sheet must contain two dates for each task in the project.

Click the Gantt icon to get a timeline. Each task will now have its own bar on your chart.

You can change dates for a task in the cell, or drag the edge of the bar for that task.

You can also customize the display of your timeline.

Change the color of any taskbar by right-clicking on it, or use conditional formatting to call attention to information in your sheet. For example, anything that is assigned to Alex can be assigned the color blue.

You can specify the information that appears on your chart in Gantt Settings.

Choose the range of dates to be displayed and whether to show labels like task name or the person assigned the task.

Use the zoom in/zoom out icons to move between weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly views.

To adjust the viewing area of your grid and timeline, drag the divider.

You can move between Gantt View and Grid View at anytime with the grid icon, or view key dates on a calendar.

And that's basic Gantt View in Smartsheet.

If you're managing a project with dependencies, watch our Gantt with Dependencies video to see how you can make your Gantt Timeline even more powerful.


Gantt Chart Examples and Templates

Begin your project with one of these sample templates in Smartsheet.

Related Gantt Posts from the Smartsheet Blog

How to Create a Gantt Chart in Excel

This blog post is a detailed walk-through of some Gantt basics. If you need to make your own chart in Excel, this is the post for you (hint: Smartsheet is MUCH easier).

Gantt Charts for Mac

Learn the 10 essential features to look for when choosing Gantt software for the Mac.

Tips from Support: How to Use a Lag Day in Your Project Plan

A lag day is a component in Gantt charts that affects the relationship between predecessor tasks. Learn how to use lag days to customize your plans when dependencies are enabled.

Tips from Support: When to Use Milestones in Your Project Plan

One easy way to mark key dates while planning a project is through the use of a diamond shaped symbol in your chart, the milestone. Milestones not only help your team stay on track, they are also useful to you as a project manager to more accurately determine whether or not your project is on schedule.

Tips from Support: How to Print Your Gantt

This post outlines a few different ways to customize your Gantt print-outs in Smartsheet.

Tips from Support: Creating a Work-Back Schedule

A work-back schedule is a technique for project planning that is used when you have an end date or goal that you need to work backwards from. Here are four simple steps you need to take to build a project sheet backwards from an event date.

Tips from Support: How to Use Cell Linking to Create a Master Gantt View

If you have multiple project sheets, learn how to use cell linking to create one master Gantt to roll together calendars and project schedules.

Tips from Support: Let Loose with 40 Shades of Not-So-Gray

Learn how to use color strategically to make your Gantt easier to read, either with manual changes or conditional formatting.

Agency Transformation with Gantt Charts

Read how a digital consulting agency uses Gantt charts in Smartsheet to manage multiple projects at a time with a workforce spread across the country.