How to make a schedule using microsoft excel tools? Step by step guide

Making a schedule with Excel tools can be without a doubt one of the easiest ways. The reason is that this program has different tools that will help you represent the activities of your project in different ways. In addition, you can incorporate visual elements to highlight different sections.

The templates built into Excel are very useful, since they act in the same way as the Gantt Chart, but provide a broad advance. They can be customized to your liking, which will help you to maintain good coordination and operation of all with a unique design .

Taking into account all the above, below we will explain how to make a schedule using Microsoft Excel tools . You can do it through the available templates, or manually . Read on to know the step by step!

Steps to make an activity schedule in Microsoft Excel like an expert

An activity schedule is very effective to be able to organize your daily tasks in order of importance, type of tasks and much more. In this way, you avoid overlooking commitments or jobs that you must fulfill.

Therefore, we will give you the step by step of how to create yours in a personalized way like an expert:

With a template

The essential thing before moving forward is to have in mind and already defined a well-detailed draft of the schedule to be carried out, where each activity or task to be carried out is presented, taking into account each one with its tentative dates.

Having that in hand we get to it:

  • The first thing we will do is open the Excel program and go where the “Search” bar appears at the top right.
  • By clicking there, we will place the name of the template that we want to search for . In this case we will use the template “Gantt Project Planner”.
  • Select the template displayed with that name to start working on it.
  • To start adding tasks go to the Task Name or Activity column . There, he begins to write the to-do list .
  • Below the Project Planner heading, there is an option called Highlighted Period, in which you will enter the full span of your project . For example, if it will take 6 months, select number 6.
  • Then you can customize the diagram according to your needs . For example, in the Start column of the plan write the periods in which the tasks are established.
  • Do the same for the other rows like Plan Duration, Actual Start, and Actual Duration . It is recommended that the times in the Actual Start column match the Plan Start column . Also, the Plan Duration should be the same as the Actual Duration .
  • In case you want to delete a row, right click on the cell and press the Delete option . Then select on Entire row.
  • If you want it to only be displayed as a graph, select the numeric data columns (in the case of the template, it is from row C to G). Right click and tap Hide .


With the help of the Gantt chart, you can graphically represent all the planning of activities that you have in relation to a project or pending tasks. It should be noted that it is applicable to any sector, so it adjusts perfectly to your needs.

Next, we will explain the step by step on how to make an activity schedule in Excel manually:

  • First, make a table in advance in which you specify the name of the activities to be executed, their start date, duration and end date.
  • Position yourself in any box outside of the previously made table . Go to the Insert tab in Excel, specifically within the Charts group . Tap on the Columns button and then select 2D Bar / Stacked Bar .
  • A blank box will be displayed because the data where the graph will be located later has not yet been selected. Within the chart tools, click on the Select data option .
  • You will be able to appreciate the Select the data source window . With it, you can begin to include the data that you want to appear within the graph. First, go to the Add button that is displayed on the left frame of the (Series) window . You also get it by tapping the + symbol .
  • Automatically, the first series appears with the name “Series1” . On the right side, enter the Series Values or also identified as Y Values . There, tap on the icon that is right next to that option and select the start dates of your project . When you’re done, click OK .
  • Then click Select Data again to redisplay the Select Data Source window. Click the + or Add symbol again to create series 2.
  • It is time to add a new series, for another aspect such as the duration in days of your project. Go to Series Values or Y Values and apply the same procedure to add a new series to your chart. That is, touch the data column and press OK .
  • For series 2, the horizontal axis labels will be modified. To do this, go to Select data and when the pop-up window appears, go to Series2 . Then, in Labels of the horizontal axis, click on the icon at the end of that line and choose the names of the activities. Tap on OK .
  • Now we have to give it a Gantt chart appearance . To achieve this, you have to right click on any of the blue bars of the graph and select Format data series .
  • In the right bar that will open, you have to go to Fill and Line (it has a paint bucket icon) . Tap on No Fill .
  • Where the names of the activities appear, right click and go to Format Axis again. In the options, enter the axis options and at the bottom tap on Categories in reverse order .
  • Now you need to set the start and end of the bars on the chart . To do this, copy the start date of the first activity into a different cell and put the last date at the end of the project. Select both cells and change their format to number by going to Home, in the number options press Number and that’s it.
  • Then go to the graph, go to the horizontal axis, right click and go to Format axis. There, write in the limit options the start and end date of your project. At a minimum you put the start date, and at a maximum you write the end.

Finally, you can modify different options such as the name of the graphic, the colors, the appearance and much more.

List of the best timeline templates you can use in Excel

The templates are perfect to make life easier for all those users who are not entirely experts in handling Excel . In addition, most of them can be customized to give you the colors, shapes and type of text you want.

Here we share the best templates and their download links:

Project Tracking Template

Download Excel Project Tracking Template

Agile Project Plan Template

Download Agile Project Plan Template Excel

To Do List Template

Download Excel To-Do List Template

Gantt Project Planner Template

Download Gantt Excel Project Planner Template

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