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Multi-Phase Timeline from Excel

Learn how to build a timeline for each phase of your project from Excel.

Excel Timeline broken out by project phases.

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If you use Excel to manage your projects, you can create a chart that breaks your project out phase by phase. Follow either our simple or more detailed instructions below, based on whether you prefer more of a timeline layout like the example above, or a Gantt chart layout:

Simple Instructions: Multi-Phase Timeline

These instructions are designed for people don't already have a project plan in Excel. You can use our example Excel project plan as a starting point and follow these abbreviated steps to create your timeline in just a few clicks.

  1. Start by downloading these two sample files to your downloads folder or to your desktop. The Excel file contains the project task and phase data, and the *.tat file is the OnePager template that will drive the formatting and layout of the timeline you're about to create.

      Multi-Phase Timeline.xlsx (Excel File)
      Multi-Phase Timeline.tat (OnePager Template)

  1. Open the Excel file that you just downloaded. From Excel's Add-Ins tab, click the OnePager Express button:

    OnePager Express add-in launch from Excel.

  2. On the Start screen, click NEW to begin building a new multi-phase timeline:

    OnePager Express start screen.

  3. On the next screen, locate the Starting Template section, and go to Change > BROWSE FILES. Browse to your desktop and select the Multi-Phase Timeline.tat that you downloaded in step #1:

    Change your OnePager template.

  4. With your Excel file loaded and your OnePager template selected, click Next, and then on the following screen, click Create new chart. OnePager will import the data from your Excel file and create a timeline based on your project plan. Each phase of your project will have a separate timeline, with all tasks for a given phase aligned in a single row. OnePager will also assign a unique color to each phase of your project;

    Excel Timeline with phases

Now that you've done this, you can go back to Excel and adjust the spreadsheet to match the tasks, phases, and dates of your own project plan. Once you've done this, follow these same steps again with your updated Excel sheet for a real-world result!

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Detailed Instructions: Multi-Phase Timeline

These instructions are designed for people who have already built a phased project plan in Excel and need to import what they already have into OnePager. These instructions also provide more details about customization along the way.

  1. Start with an Excel project plan that looks something like this. Notice that there is a column for the task, plus the start and finish dates for each task. There is also a column for the phase, so that each task is assigned to a phase of the project.

    Excel project plan with tasks, dates, and phases.

    It's also a good idea to have an ID for each task, especially if the names of your tasks are likely to repeat multiple times in the same project.

  2. Click the OnePager Express button:

    OnePager Express add-in launch from Excel.

  3. On the Start screen, click NEW to begin building a new multi-phase timeline:

    OnePager Express start screen.

  4. On the import wizard, give your timeline a name, and then click Next:

    Timeline setup wizard.

  5. On the next screen, assign the fields from your Excel spreadsheet to the different aspects of your Timeline:

    Pick the fields from Excel to be used in your Timeline

    Here, we've chosen fields for the Task Name, Start Date, and Finish Date, and have also decided to color-code the chart based on the Phase. We also told OnePager to use the ID field as a unique ID for each task in the project plan.

  6. Click Create New Chart, and OnePager will import the tasks and phases from your Excel file and create an initial Gantt chart. In the last few steps, we'll convert this from a Gantt chart to a timeline.

    Excel Gantt Chart

  7. To switch from a Gantt chart to a timeline, go to Home > Chart Properties > Rows/Swimlanes and turn on a Timeline Layout based on the Phase field from Excel. We'll also turn on a Swimlane grouping based on that same Phase field:

    Launch the conditional formatting engine.

  8. Click OK and you will see OnePager realign your chart so that all tasks belonging to the same phase are aligned in the same row, creating one timeline per phase of the project:

    Each phase of the project is on its own timeline.

  9. If you want to spread your timelines out a little bit so that the task names are easier to read, go to Home > Chart Properties > Page Layout and increase your Row Height. For example, you can increase your row height from 0.375" to 1" or from 1cm to 3cm:

    Increase the height of each timeline

  10. Click OK one final time, and you'll get an updated timeline that is a little easier to read::

    Timeline with swimlanes based on the phase

Try OnePager Express Timeline software today by downloading a free trial.

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