This Gantt chart Excel step-by-step tutorial will show you how to make professional Gantt charts using Excel and PowerPoint.
Options for making a Gantt chart
Microsoft Excel has a Bar chart feature that can be formatted to make an Excel Gantt chart. If you need to create and update a Gantt chart for recurring communications to clients and executives, it may be simpler and faster to create it in PowerPoint.
On this page you can see both ways. I will give you step-by-step instructions for making a Gantt chart in Excel by starting with a Bar chart. I will also show you how to instantly create an executive Gantt chart in PowerPoint by pasting or importing data from an .xls file. If you wish to learn how to make a timeline in Excel, please see our timeline tutorial here.
Which tutorial would you like to see? How to make a Gantt chart in Excel 1. List your project schedule in an Excel table
Break down the entire project into chunks of work, or phases. These will be called project tasks and they form the basis of your Gantt chart.
In Excel 2007, 2010, 2013 or 2023, enter your data by listing the Start Date and Finish Date of each task, and also it’s Duration (count of days required to complete that task). Also include a brief description of the task. Make sure to sort these tasks in order, by placing the earliest start date first and the latest start date last.
In this tutorial, I will convert the following table into an Excel Gantt chart and a PowerPoint Gantt chart:
2. Begin making your Excel Gantt by setting it up as a Stacked Bar chart
Then from the Excel ribbon, select the INSERT tab.
In the Charts section of the ribbon, drop down the Bar Chart selection menu.
Select Stacked Bar which will insert a large blank white chart space onto your Excel worksheet (do not select 100% Stacked Bar).
3. Add the start dates of your Tasks to the Gantt chart
Now we’re going to add your task data.
4. Add the durations of your Tasks to the Gantt chart
Here we will add the duration data to your Gantt chart.
5. Add the descriptions of your Tasks to the Gantt chart
On the right side of Excel’s Data Source window you will see a table named Horizontal (Category) Axis Labels. Select the Edit button to bring up a smaller Axis Label windows.
6. Format your chart so it looks like a Gantt chart
You have really built a Stacked bar chart. Now we need to format it so it looks like a Gantt chart. To do that, we must make the blue parts of each task bar transparent so only the orange parts will be visible. These will become the tasks of your Gantt chart.
Your Gantt chart should now look like this:
You probably also see that the tasks on your Gantt chart are listed in reverse order with the last task on top of the Gantt chart and the first Task listed at the bottom. This is easy to change in Excel.
iii. In the Format Axis task pane under the header Axis Options and the sub-header Axis Position put a check into the checkbox called Categories in reverse order.
You will notice that Excel arranged your tasks into proper order, listing them from first to last on your Gantt chart. You will also notice that Excel moved the date markers from beneath to the top of the Gantt chart. Now it is really starting to look more like a Gantt chart should.
7. Finish your Gantt chart with these styling tips
Optimize the Gantt chart
In the Axis Options window, under the header called Bounds, note the current number for Minimum Bounds. It represents the left most boundary of your Gantt chart. Changing this number by making it larger will bring your tasks closer to the vertical axis of your Gantt chart. In my case I changed the original number which was 41750.0 to 41820.0. At any time you can hit the reset button to return the original settings. This gives you the opportunity to try a number of different settings until you find the one the makes your Gantt chart look best.
Adjust the density of the dates across the top of your Gantt chart
In the same Axis Options window under the header Units, you can adjustment the spacing between each of the dates listed at the top of the horizontal Axis. If you increase the unit number your Gantt chart will enlarge the space between each date, which will also lessen the number of dates your Gantt chart shows. Doing the opposite, reduces the space between each date and therefore crowds more dates onto your Gantt chart. In my case I changed the original number from 20 to 30.
Thickening Task bars on your Gantt chart to reduce white space
How to make a Gantt chart in PowerPoint
PowerPoint is graphical and a better choice for making Gantt charts that will be used in client and executive communications. Office Timeline is a PowerPoint add-in that makes and updates Gantt charts by importing or pasting from Excel.
You can copy-paste, import and synchronize your Excel tables in PowerPoint. In the steps below I will demonstrate how to turn the Excel table you created above in Step 1, into a PowerPoint Gantt chart using Office Timeline Plus.
1. Open PowerPoint and paste your table into the Office Timeline Plus wizard.
This will open a gallery that will allow you to choose a style or template for your Gantt chart.
Copy your project’s details, including Start Date, End Date and Description, from the Excel table you made earlier. You can copy them all at once, but be sure not to copy the title.
2. Your Excel table will be converted into a PowerPoint Gantt chart.
Depending on the style or template selected, you will have a Gantt chart that looks like this:
From here, you can easily customize the Gantt chart further, adding milestones, formatting fonts and colors, and adding various details like percent complete or notes. It is easy to do in Office Timeline. In my example, I used Office Timeline Plus to add milestones, move task titles and date texts, change shapes, and add percent complete.
How to make a PowerPoint Gantt chart from Excel in under 60 seconds: