Gantt charts are a useful way to visualize data. In essence, they can be used as a comprehensive timeline for project management.
Word itself is extremely customizable – however, there isn’t a Gantt
chart template available in Word by default. Instead, you’ll have to add a Gantt chart to Word manually.
In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn exactly how to make a Gantt chart in Word with ease.
After opening a new Word document, you’re ready to begin.
First, you’ll need to set the page’s orientation from Portrait to Landscape. This ensures
that the document has enough space for the Gantt Chart without looking cramped.
To do so, go to *Page Layout > Orientation > Landscape *
From this step, you need to create a stacked bar chart, which will serve as the base of the Gantt chart.
Go to Insert > Illustration > Chart
To create a Bar graph, click Insert > Charts > Bar > 2-D Bar > Stacked Bar.
From this step, it will open up a menu with a list of available charts.
To find the graph you require click Bar > Stacked Bar > OK
Word will generate a standard stacked bar chart like the one below along
with an Excel table window where you can change the placeholder data to
This is where you put in your information for your timeline,
deadlines, duration, and tasks.
As you type in your information you will also need to type in the series and
These are typically project tasks, as well as a start date, end date, and duration for each of those tasks.
Enter the project tasks as you need them in Column A of the excel window which popped up in your Word document.
The chart graphic behind the word document will automatically populate the graph with the information you enter.
Rename the columns with tasks (column A), Start date (Column B), End date
(Column C), and duration (Column D).
To make the information properly displayed as a date and easier to read, you
can choose to format the start date and end date columns.
To do so, Highlight Column b and c > Right-click > Format Cells > Date >
Desired Date format
Now the duration data needs to be formatted to save you from doing extra
Click the Excel icon on the right-hand corner of the Excel data
This will open up the Excel window into a whole Excel document with full
editing capabilities. From here begin by typing the formula =$C2-$B2
in cell D2 and then continue to do so throughout column D where there is Duration
With the duration data inputted properly, the end date data is no longer
needed. This is an easy series to delete from your graph.
To remove the end date series select the chart > click on chart filters
(Funnel icon to the right of the graph) > Uncheck the End date checkbox >
With that all finalized, your graph should start looking like a Gantt chart with
only the information for the start date and duration visible but not the end
Now, to format your bar chart to look like a Gantt chart, you need to make the
Start date essentially invisible.
However, it’s merely taking the color away from the fill of the bars for the start date series. This means that only the grey bars will remain visible on your graph.
These represent the tasks within your Gantt chart.
Click on one of the blue bars > Right-click > No fill
At this point, your graphic is no longer a bar graph but a Gantt graph with
the tasks and duration visible.
It should appear as the example screenshot below:
Now that everything within your document looks properly like a Gantt chart
should, it’s time to improve the overall design.
This step ensures that your information is visually pleasing, which is important if you want to convey your information in a digestible manner.
You can use the themes menu to change both the chart’s style and color scheme. Colors will just alter the colors of the design, while chart styles will change several formatting aspects including font, hues, and sizing.
Go to Chart tools > Themes > design > chart styles or ***Chart tools >
Themes > design > change colors*
To make your graphic stand out even more from the generic chart styles
provided by Word, you can customize each aspect of the Gantt chart to your
With a variety of styles and effects, the possibilities are endless.
Click Chart Tools Format > Shape Effects and/or Chart Tools Format > quick styles
At this point, you may have noted that the tasks are backward. That is an
aspect solved in this next step.
Change the order of tasks by Click on list of tasks > Format Axis dialog
display > Select Categories in reverse order > Close
Gantt chart creation is possible with Word, but it’s definitely not the best (or the easiest) option.
As you can see, creating a Gantt chart with Word is a tedious process, as the application was created to write documents, not to create charts.
Using a dedicated Gantt chart software is going to make your life much easier, and your chart will probably look a lot better as well.
Using Preceden to create your next Gantt chart is quick, easy, and best of all, you can export your chart and use it in your Word document anyway!