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Excel Project Timelines

How to create a timeline for a project plan in Microsoft Excel using OnePager Express

Using Microsoft Excel is a quick and easy way to manage one or many project schedules. However, creating presentations and reports for project plans kept in Excel can be very time-consuming, and the reports don't always look that good.

Excel Project Timeline

OnePager Express is presentation software for Excel that allows you to create timelines, Gantt charts, and project reports all based on your existing Excel spreadsheet. This article will show you how, and you can download a free trial to follow along.

  1. Start with your Microsoft Excel schedule. OnePager Express can use any kind of Excel spreadsheet for the schedule, so yours doesn't have to look identical to the one below, but it's a good starting point:
    Project plan tracked in an Excel spreadsheet.

    This spreadsheet contains a column for the task name, start date and finish date. Optionally, you can add information about the phase of the project, resources, progress, and even a filter to select which tasks from the spreadsheet you want to include in your timeline.

  2. Double-click the OnePager Express icon on your desktop. From the Start screen that appears, click New, and choose your Excel spreadsheet as the source file for your project timeline. This will launch the easy import wizard:
    OnePager Express imports project plans from an Excel spreadsheet to create easy timelines.

    We'll give our timeline a name, and specify a snapshot (status) date so that we can make revisions later.

  3. Click the Next button on the wizard to choose which fields from Excel you would like to import:
    Map any field from your Excel spreadsheet into a custom OnePager Express timeline.

    If you use standard names for the fields in your spreadsheet, OnePager Express will guess them automatically for you. However, you can always choose to import a different field than the one that OnePager Express suggests.

  4. Next, click the Create new project view to import your Excel project plan into OnePager Express. You'll get a timeline like this:
    How to create a project timeline in Excel using OnePager Express, an Excel add-in.

    OnePager Express automatically grouped the timeline into swimlanes by the phase in the Excel spreadsheet, and color-coded each task based on the phase as well. This is the default view, but can be customized to fit any kind of format you need.

  5. Let's change how the view is color-coded. Instead of each phase having a unique color, let's reformat the timeline so that milestones with the same name share a common color. For example, maybe we want all "Milestone A" items to be a green triangle. To do this, we'll use conditional formatting under Home > Project View Properties > Milestones > Manage Rules:
    Conditional formatting lets you change the color and shape of milestones in your Excel project timeline.

    Here, we've set up rules to resize the milestones, and to make sure that each milestone gets a unique color and shape. We'll also color the phase-level summaries black to help them stand out. While we're at it, we'll also turn on a legend that tells readers which colors and shapes correspond to each milestone.

  6. Apply these changes, and our Excel project timeline will be reformatted like this:
    Excel project timeline

OnePager Express is the easiest way to build project timelines, Gantt charts, and schedule reports if you are managing your projects using an Excel spreadsheet.

Get started today by downloading a free trial or attending one of our demonstration webinars.

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