OnePager Tip: Shorten Task Names for Clarity

Prior to using OnePager, you didn’t have to consider how much space your project plan’s task or milestone labels would consume in a chart. Regardless of how long they were, you always had to re-type them anyway into whatever other application you were using to create your reports — and most people shortened labels while retyping.  But now that you’re using your actual plan data to drive your visuals, label length is a major consideration.

Take a look at the examples below.  The first has very long labels, while the second uses only what is necessary for the audience to understand what the activity or milestone is.  (Double-click to enlarge each image.)

Too Much Text - Long Task Names

Shorter Labels

To me, the first chart seems cluttered with text, while the second option allows me to absorb the information much more quickly.

We’ve seen extreme versions of “wordy” where users had to manually enter a carriage return in their task labels in OnePager, to allow them to fit within the boundaries of the visual.  Otherwise, their labels would be off the page!

If you must have the long name for reference, but also need a short name for the purposes of presentation, the best solution will involve a “short name” column in your Project or Excel file.  OnePager allows you to map any column from your source file to use as the label for your activity or milestone shape. To modify this mapping, click the Templates… button in your Add-Ins tab, then navigate to the Other Columns tab and make the change per the below image.

I realize this will be more work upfront.  However, over the long run it will save you time, by ensuring your source file can truly drive the visual automatically.

This is a good example of how it is best to try and think of OnePager and your project management application together, as one.  The more you can do that, the more efficient you will be at producing visuals, and the more accurate your data will be.  After all it has to be accurate if you’re using it to drive your reports, right?

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