Shows & Seminars
25 Microsoft Project Tips and Tricks
The following is a collection of Tips and
Tricks for Microsoft Project that we have accumulated over the
years and teach in our training classes. Unless otherwise noted,
these tips and tricks work with all versions of Microsoft Project.
- In the Gantt Chart, doubleclick on the
right edge of a column header to "best fit" the
- To quickly change the name of a column,
doubleclick in the column header and enter a new name for
the field in the Title field. For example, you may want
to abbreviate the Duration field name to Dur to allow the
field to be narrower.
- To quickly change the field in a column,
doubleclick in the column header and select the new field
from the Field Name list. While in the Field Name list,
press the first letter of the desired field to go to that
- In the Gantt Chart Table (or any table),
to quickly hide a column, click on the right edge of the
column header and drag it to the left until it disappears
(becomes a 0 width column). To display this hidden
column, place the cursor a little to the right of the
column separator bar where the column used to be, click
and drag to the right.
- You can wrap text in the Gantt Chart to
display text on multiple lines if you increase the row
height. To increase the row height, place the cursor
between any two row numbers (if the ID field is displayed
in the first column and is "locked"), click and
drag down to increase the row height. Only Text fields
wrap and only if the column is narrower than the text in
- When printing Gantt Charts (or other
timescaled charts) you can adjust the width of the
timescale to fit the page without changing the timescale
units. Doubleclick on the Timescale and increase the
number in the % field (or Enlarge field in some versions of Project) to make the timescale take up
more of the page or decrease the number in the % (or Enlarge)
field to make the timescale narrower. The latter step is
useful when a chart is just a little too wide to fit on a
- To select two or more non-adjacent tasks,
click on a task (in the table area), hold down the Ctrl
Key and click on another task in the chart. Continue
holding the Ctrl key to select other tasks. This is
especially useful for linking or unlinking tasks that are not on
- To change information for a number of
tasks at once, highlight the desired tasks (select
non-adjacent tasks using the method described above) and
select the Task Information button. Enter the common information in one of the
fields displayed in the "Multiple Task
Information" dialog box.
- To remove a date constraint from a task,
select the task (or multiple tasks) and select the Task Information button. Click in the Advanced tab, change the Type field to
As Soon As Possible and click OK. This removes any date
constraint in the task and allows it to be scheduled
based on the dependencies rather than a date entered
(perhaps accidentally) by a user.
- If a task does not move (reschedule) based
on a dependency, it may contain a "fixed" date
of some kind. A fixed date could be an Actual Start or a
constraint such as Must Start On or Start No Earlier
Than. Use the Tasks with Fixed Dates Filter to view only
those tasks in a plan that contain fixed dates. You can
then determine if these tasks should have these types of
fixed dates. Use the previous tip to remove an unwanted
- If after removing the Actual Start and any
constraint (such as Must Start On or Start No Earlier
Than) a task still does not reschedule based on a
dependency, check the Resource Leveling feature. Make
sure Automatic Leveling is turned off by selecting
Resource Leveling from the Tools menu and choosing
Manual. If a task still does not move, it may contain a
delay based on a previous Resource Level. Select Resource
Leveling again from the Tools menu and choose Clear
Leveling. Select whether or not to remove Leveling from
the selected tasks or for the entire project.
- After applying a Filter in a Gantt chart
press F3 to view all tasks again instead of applying the
All Tasks filter.
- Press Alt-Home in the Gantt chart to
position the chart on the start of the project.
- If you have indented tasks to create
Summary Tasks and Detail Tasks, click the little box with the
minus sign to the left of the Summary Task name to
quickly hide the detail tasks below it. Click the box with the plus sign to display the detail tasks that were
- In the Gantt chart, you can create
dependencies by clicking on the Gantt bar of a task and
dragging to another Gantt bar to create a Finish-to-Start
dependency between the two tasks.
- To quickly modify or delete a dependency,
doubleclick on the dependency line between the two tasks
to display the Task Dependency form (be sure to place
your cursor directly on the dependency line).
- In any drop down list such as the list of
Resource Names or the list of Filters you can press the
first letter of the item you are looking for to quickly
go that item.
- Use the Insert key on your keyboard to
quickly insert rows and columns. In the Gantt chart,
click on a row and press the Insert key to insert a blank
row above the selected row. Click on a column header to
highlight a column and press Insert to insert a column to
the left of the selected column. You can also use the
Delete key to reverse this process but be careful
- In the Network Diagram (or PERT
Chart in some versions of Project), to move multiple task
boxes, click in the chart area, drag the cursor to select
any number of boxes and release the cursor. Then, click
on the border of a box and drag the entire selection of
boxes to a new location. In Project 2000, 2002 and 2003 you must first
select the Format menu, Layout and then Manual Box Positioning to
enable the ability to move task boxes around.
- An often overlooked but handy report is
the Calendar view using a Resource Filter. Select
Calendar from the View menu. Select the Using
Filter and type in the name of the desired
resource to display the Calendar for a particular
resource. This produces a nice printout of a
resources tasks with each month of a project on a
- For Project 2000, 2002 and 2003,
to prevent an item from appearing in the legend for the Gantt
chart, select the Format menu, Bar Styles and place an asterisk (*)
before the name of the item that you do not want to appear. In
Project 98 you can delete the bar styles you do not use to avoid
displaying them in the legend.
- Right click in the Toolbar area to display
the list of available Toolbars. A check next to a Toolbar
indicates that it is currently displayed. Click on a
Toolbar to display or hide it.
- In the Gantt Chart (or any chart with a
table and a chart area) doubleclick the separator line
between the table and chart to automatically push the
separator line to the closest column edge.
- To split the screen and place a
specific View into the lower pane, hold the shift key while
selecting an item from the View menu. You can also split the screen
by selecting Split from the Window menu or doubleclick the small
horizontal split bar in the lower right corner of the screen.
Doubleclick it again to remove the split (or choose Remove Split
from the Windows menu).
- Just for fun - Create two 10 day tasks.
Place the cursor in the Finish field of the first task
and click the Copy button. Place the cursor in the Start
field of the second task and select Paste Special-Paste
Link from the Edit menu. Place the cursor on the Finish
field of the second task and click the Copy button. Place
the cursor on the Start field of the first task, select
Paste Special-Paste Link and watch the tasks
"walk" across the chart. Delete one of the
tasks to stop.
We hope you have found these tips and tricks useful. If you
have a tip that you would like to share, please send it to us and
we will gladly add it to the above list the next time we update
it. Send all Tips and Tricks to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Critical Tools, Inc.