Excel is good for SO many tasks, you’d think that it would only take a couple of clicks to create a Gantt chart in Excel. Unfortunately, it’s a bit more involved than you might think.
“Is this really my only option?” you ask. Happily, the answer is no! In seconds, you can customize a premade Gantt chart template, and then you can easily insert it into Excel or share it with your team when it’s time to get the project rolling. The best part—it’s easier to keep updated than your Excel chart, and it’s free.
If you’re one of the diehards who wants to make Excel work, feel free to jump down and watch this step-by-step tutorial. You can do it in about 15 steps, and it’ll take you about 30 minutes.
How to use Gantt chart templates and insert them into Excel
It’s easy to use Lucidchart templates to create Gantt charts in Excel. If you make Gantt charts every day, you might want to invest in project management software; however, if you only need a Gantt chart occasionally, Lucidchart is a great option. Simply follow these three steps:
1. Find the template that best suits your project
For some projects, you might not need a Gantt chart at all—a timeline will help you schedule tasks just fine. Whatever diagram you decide to go with, here are a few commonly used templates that can get you started right away. Just click on the template to open it in Lucidchart
Traditional Gantt chart template
Project management timeline
Sprint project management timeline
2. Customize the template to fit your needs
Input each of your project milestones, fill in your project dates and deadlines, and adjust the bars visually to show when each milestone will be completed. Want to pull your data in from Excel so that you don’t have to type in every date and milestone? Check out our data linking tutorial below, or take a look at this help center article.
3. Insert the chart into Excel
Now that you’ve finished your chart, you have a couple of options to put your Gantt chart into Excel:
a) Embed the live chart into your Excel spreadsheet.
Lucidchart integrates seamlessly with Excel, and this is probably the best way to keep your spreadsheet up to date. Watch this quick tutorial on how it’s done:
b) Export your chart as an image.
Watch this quick tutorial, and then follow the steps below:
- Open Excel.
- In the “Insert” menu, click “Pictures” and then navigate to your saved diagram.
- Click “Insert.”
c) Share the chart with your team.
It’s really easy to give the project executors permission to view, comment on, or edit your chart. Then you might be able to cut Excel out as the middleman, and it’ll be super easy to keep everyone on the same page.
How to make a Gantt chart in Excel
Again, we recommend just creating your Gantt chart with one of our ready-made templates in Lucidchart, but Excel can work too. This step-by-step tutorial makes it easier to follow the process of creating a Gantt chart in Excel.
In case you want to follow along with the video tutorial, here’s a step-by-step guide on creating a Gantt chart in Excel:
- Input start date, end date, task description, and task duration (in days) for each project milestone. Title each of the columns “Start Date,” “End Date,” “Task Description,” and “Task Duration.”
- From the “Insert” ribbon, select the chart icon and then select a stacked bar graph.
- Right-click on the new blank chart, and from the menu, choose “Select data.”
- In the middle and to the left of the new window, select “Add.”
- You should now be in the “Edit Series” dialog. Click the cell selection box adjacent to the “Series name” entry bar, and select the “Start date” cell on your worksheet. Click the cell selection box again to end the selection.
- Select the cell selection box for “Series Values,” and select all of the values in the “Start date” column. Click the cell selection box to end the selection, and then click “OK.”
- In the Series dialog window, select “Add” in the middle and to the left of the window.
- You should now be in the “Edit Series” dialog. Click the cell selection box adjacent to the “Series name” entry bar, and select the “Task duration” cell on your worksheet. Click the cell selection box again to end the selection.
- Click the cell selection box for “Series Values,” and select all of the values in the “Task duration” column. Click the cell selection box to end the selection, and then click “OK.”
- Select “Start Date” on the left side of the window, and then select the “Edit” button under the “Horizontal (Category) Axis Labels” box.
- Click the cell selection box and select every cell under the “Description” heading. Click the cell selection box again to end the selection, click “OK”, and then click “OK” again.
- Your chart will have horizontal bars that are split into two parts. Click on the left side of one of the horizontal bars, right-click, and then select “Format Data Series…” from the dropdown.
- Select the paint bucket icon in the new window, and then under the “Fill” options, select “No Fill.” Now all you have left are your task durations.
- Without closing the formatting window, select the task descriptions on the left of the chart, and then select the bar chart icon in the formatting window.
- Under the “Axis options,” select the “Categories in reverse order” checkbox.
Phew! Now you just have to keep your chart up to date.
Never want to do that again? Check out some Gantt chart alternatives or use a Lucidchart template next time. Happy charting!