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Project Timeline with Conditional Formatting

Create a timeline from Microsoft Project and apply conditional formatting to assign colors to tasks.

If you use Microsoft Project, you probably need to create timelines of key tasks and milestones so that you can discuss your project plans with your stakeholders. The default timelines in Microsoft Project aren't very colorful, but if you add OnePager to Microsoft Project, you can use conditional formatting to assign different colors to different types of tasks or task statuses.

OnePager's patented conditional formatting tool works directly with Microsoft Project to create beautiful timelines like these. Sign up for a free trial and try it out today.

Microsoft Project timeline with OnePager's conditional formatting applied.

Here is how to build a project timeline with conditional formatting:

  1. Let's start with a Microsoft Project plan. If your Microsoft Project plan has lots of tasks, it's a good idea to use a flag field like Flag20 to select the items that you want to include in your project timeline:

    Microsoft Project Plan

  2. Launch OnePager Pro. You can either do this from your desktop, or from inside Microsoft Project on the Add-Ins tab:

    Launch OnePager Pro as a Microsoft Project add-in.

  3. Click NEW to start building your project timeline:

    OnePager Pro start screen.

  4. On the next screen, we'll pick a template that is specifically set up to create a project timeline. In the Starting Template section, click Change > BROWSE FILES to browse the available OnePager templates:

    Change OnePager's default template.

  5. Here, we'll select the Single Project Timeline template:

    OnePager single project timeline template.

  6. Give your chart a name, and then click the Create New Chart button. OnePager will import your tasks from Microsoft Project and create an initial timeline that you can customize:

    OnePager Project Timeline

    The initial timeline that OnePager creates has a swimlane for each phase of the project, and within each phase, all tasks are lined up left-to-right in a timeline layout. We've adjusted the font, task bar shape, and shadow slightly. All of these settings are accessible under Home > Chart Properties.

  7. This first timeline is assigning color by phase, where each phase of the project gets its own color. This is a good start, but if you want to assign colors some other way, this is where OnePager's patented conditional formatting can really be useful. To turn off the default color-coding, go to Home > Chart Properties > Task Bars, and set the chart to only Use one color:

    Remove phase-driven color from the project timeline

    When you click OK, the initial phase-driven color will be removed from the project timeline:

    Project timeline with no color applied.

  8. With the phase-driven colors gone, we can click on Manage Rules to launch a separate window for Conditional Formatting. Here, we've written a few example rules that assign colors based on the status of each task. For example, completed tasks are green and late tasks are red:

    Conditional formatting rules assign different colors based on the status of tasks in a Microsoft Project plan.

    The use of the Status field is only an example. Any field from Microsoft Project or Project Online can be used to drive conditional formatting in OnePager. Furthermore, conditional formatting isn't limited to just color. You can use it to assign different milestone shapes, colors, borders, and more.

  9. Click OK two final times, and you'll see OnePager re-color your project timeline based on the status information from Microsoft Project:

    Microsoft Project Timeline with conditional formatting applied based on status (RAG).

OnePager not only creates timelines from Microsoft Project, but enables you to apply conditional formatting that makes it easy to see status, resource assignment, or any other aspect of your project that requires visibility.

Create your own project timelines with conditional formatting today by downloading a free trial of OnePager Pro.

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