Displaying Critical Path in Your Excel Gantt Chart

We get asked by our OnePager Express (for Excel) users every so often how they can display critical path.

OnePager Pro inherently uses the Critical column from Microsoft Project, which calculates the critical path, to visualize those values.

Excel doesn’t calculate critical path without some intensive programming on your part, and OnePager Express isn’t set up to display critical path like OnePager Pro does (a colored bar at the top of the task bar). But, it is possible. We’ve summarized how it can be quickly done below. For more detail,¬†you can also read our step-by-step instructions on how to build Excel Gantt charts with critical path.


First, you’ll need to designate a column in your Excel file to tell OnePager whether or not each task is on the critical path. In our example, we’ll also label our header “Critical,” and put a value of Yes or No in this column.


The next step is for us to make sure the new Critical column will be mapped in using our Template, which will allow us create a conditional formatting rule to visualize the Yes values, once we have our new project view up.

To modify your Template, go to your Add-ins tab in Excel and click Templates…

Once the Template Properties window opens, navigate to the Other Columns tab, and change the mapping for one of your Rule Columns to include the Critical column.


After you’ve saved your Template, create a New Project View as a starting point, then open Project View Properties > Task Bars tab > Manage Rules. With the Conditional Formatting Rules dialog box open, add a rule that tells OnePager to make your shapes appear differently, based on the Yes values in your Critical column.


rulesAfter you click OK, and then OK again in Project View Properties, you should see the changes take place. With a little legend tinkering, you should see something like the chart above, which clearly displays the critical path as red arrows.

Have another idea? We’d love to hear it! Just leave us a comment in the blog post, or send a note to [email protected]

This entry was posted in Best Practices, Data Visualization, Excel Tips, OnePager Express, OnePager Express Tips, Project Visualization by Jay. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jay

Devoted father of two, lover of mountains, entrepreneurism, and beer. Jay carries with him fourteen years of project management experience within the cable, telecom, construction, software development, and energy industries. The spectrum of projects and programs that Jay has managed throughout his career is broad and deep, enabling him to help clients implement Chronicle Graphics software in a multitude of applications. His employment history includes positions at Narvaes Construction, Leslie Brothers Construction, CSG Systems, Echostar Satellite Services, Comcast, and Level 3 Communications.

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