A Gantt chart is a tool for project management developed originally by Henry Gantt in the early 1900s. It is a type of bar chart that shows the start and end times for each task in a project schedule. The tasks are usually categorized using a work breakdown structure with summary tasks for the main project deliverables and sub-tasks that break the project down into a detailed and manageable task hierarchy. If you use Excel or Google Sheets, you can create this type of project schedule with almost no learning curve by downloading Vertex42’s free Gantt Chart Template.
For complicated project management activities, you may need a tool such as Microsoft Project or other specialized software. But, if you want to create a simple Gantt chart quickly and easily, you only need some basic Excel skills to use this template (such as knowing how to copy and insert rows).
This template contains the core functionality needed to create a simple Gantt chart easily. Each row of the worksheet represents a separate task. All you need to do is define the start date and duration of each task.
- To add more tasks, you just copy and paste rows (or insert a row then press Ctrl+D to copy formulas down).
- To change the range of dates displayed in the chart area, just slide the scroll bar.
- To track the status of a task, edit the % Complete column. The bars in the chart show the % complete for each task.
- The vertical red line shows the current date.
- To use the automatic work breakdown structure numbering, copy the formula for the appropriate level from the bottom of the worksheet.
For: Excel 2010 or later (.xlsx)
This download provides the same functionality as the original free gantt chart template above. The main difference is the formatting. The WBS, End, and Work Days columns are highlighted gray to indicate that they contain formulas.
Note: Gantt Chart Pro version 5.0 uses a design very similar to this free version.
Creating Dependent Tasks in a Gantt Chart with Excel
One of the reasons why Excel is a useful tool for creating Gantt Charts is that task dependencies can be defined by using Excel formulas. Gantt Chart Template Pro is designed to make this easier than entering your own formulas, but here are a few simple examples you can try:
1. Start a Task the Day After a Predecessor Task=end_date + 1
where end_date is a reference to cell (e.g. D10) containing the END date of the predecessor task.
2. Start a Task on the Same Day as another task=start_date
where start_date is a reference to cell containing the START date of the other task.
3. Start a Task the next WORK day after a Predecessor task (excludes Sat & Sun)=WORKDAY(end_date,1)
Use the WORKDAY.INTL() function in Excel 2010+ to define a custom work week (days other than only Sat & Sun)
The problem with only using formulas is that you can’t see the dependencies between tasks when you view or print the chart. Other Gantt chart software may show dependencies as lines connecting the bars in the gantt chart, but I’ve never found a simple way for Excel to do that (and the lines can get really messy).
The simple approach is to list the WBS number of the Predecessor in another column, like in the critical path example above. In the CPM template and in Gantt Chart Template Pro, formulas calculate the start dates based on what you enter. If you want to try doing this on your own, here is a formula to get you started:
4. Start a Task the next day after a Predecessor task listed in another column=INDEX(range_of_end_dates,MATCH(predecessor_wbs,wbs_range,0))
Gantt Chart Pro uses a formula like this, but it allows up to three predecessors and it accounts for work days.