Excel Tutorial: How To Make Project Planner In Excel


Project planning is a crucial aspect of successful project management, allowing teams to stay organized, meet deadlines, and achieve their goals. One powerful tool that can aid in project planning is Microsoft Excel. In this tutorial, we will provide an overview of how Excel can be used as a project planning tool, and guide you through the steps to create a project planner in Excel.

Key Takeaways

  • Project planning is essential for successful project management, and Excel can be a powerful tool to aid in this process.
  • Setting up the spreadsheet with necessary columns, rows, and formatting is crucial for easy readability and organization.
  • Inputting project details and utilizing Excel functions such as Gantt charts and formulas can help in effective planning and tracking progress.
  • Customizing the planner with additional details and features like drop-down lists can enhance its usability for specific project needs.
  • Regularly updating and utilizing the project planner is important for staying organized and meeting project goals.

Setting up the spreadsheet

Creating a project planner in Excel is a great way to stay organized and keep track of your tasks and deadlines. Follow these steps to set up your spreadsheet:

A. Creating a new spreadsheet

Open Microsoft Excel and create a new spreadsheet by clicking on the "File" menu, then "New" and select "Blank Workbook."

B. Adding necessary columns and rows

Once your blank spreadsheet is open, you'll want to add the necessary columns and rows to organize your project planner. Consider including columns for Task Name, Start Date, End Date, % Complete, Assigned To, and Notes.

C. Formatting the spreadsheet for easy readability

Formatting your spreadsheet is essential for easy readability. Consider using bold or colored headers for your column titles, and using borders to separate different sections of your project planner. You can also use conditional formatting to highlight overdue tasks or tasks that are nearing their deadline.

Inputting project details

When creating a project planner in Excel, the first step is to input all the necessary project details. This includes listing project tasks in one column, adding start and end dates for each task, and assigning responsible team members to each task.

Listing project tasks in one column

To begin, open a new Excel spreadsheet and create a column labeled "Tasks." In this column, list all the tasks that need to be completed for the project. Be sure to include every task, no matter how small, to ensure a comprehensive project plan.

Adding start and end dates for each task

Next, create two additional columns labeled "Start Date" and "End Date." In these columns, input the start and end dates for each task. This will help in scheduling and tracking the progress of the project.

Assigning responsible team members to each task

Finally, create a column labeled "Responsible Team Member" and input the names of the team members who are responsible for each task. This will help in assigning accountability and ensuring that every task has a clear owner.

Using Excel functions for planning

Excel is a versatile tool that can be used for creating project planners. There are several functions and features that can be utilized to effectively plan and manage projects.

A. Utilizing the Gantt chart feature
  • Create a project timeline

    Using Excel's Gantt chart feature, you can easily create a project timeline that visualizes the start and end dates of each task in the project. This provides a clear overview of the project's timeline and helps in identifying any potential scheduling conflicts.
  • Track progress

    The Gantt chart can also be used to track the progress of each task by updating the % complete for each task. This allows you to monitor the project's progress and make adjustments to the schedule if necessary.

B. Calculating task durations and deadlines using formulas
  • Utilize date functions

    Excel's date functions can be used to calculate task durations and deadlines. By subtracting the start date from the end date, you can calculate the duration of each task. Additionally, by adding the task duration to the start date, you can calculate the task's deadline.
  • Consider dependencies

    When calculating task durations and deadlines, it's important to consider any task dependencies. Excel's formulas can be used to automatically update the task deadlines based on changes in task durations or dependencies.

C. Conditional formatting for visualizing project timelines
  • Color-code tasks

    Conditional formatting in Excel can be used to color-code tasks based on their status or deadlines. For example, you can use conditional formatting to highlight overdue tasks in red and upcoming deadlines in yellow, providing a visual cue for project progress.
  • Use data bars

    Data bars in Excel can be used to create a visual representation of task durations within the project timeline. This allows for a quick comparison of task lengths and helps in identifying any tasks that may be taking longer than expected.

Tracking progress

Tracking progress is an essential part of any project planner in Excel. It allows you to monitor the status of tasks and ensure that the project is on track. Here are some ways to effectively track progress in your Excel project planner:

A. Updating task status and progress
  • Regularly update the status of each task in the project planner.
  • Use columns to indicate the progress of each task, such as "Not Started," "In Progress," and "Completed."
  • Utilize percentage completion to provide a more precise measure of progress.

B. Adding milestone markers
  • Identify important milestones in the project and add markers to highlight them in the planner.
  • Use conditional formatting to visually distinguish milestone markers from other tasks.
  • Include a separate section to provide detailed information about each milestone.

C. Using color-coding for visual progress tracking
  • Assign different colors to tasks based on their status or priority.
  • Utilize color-coding to quickly identify tasks that are behind schedule or need immediate attention.
  • Create a legend to explain the meaning of each color used in the project planner.

Customizing the planner

When using Excel as a project planner, it's important to customize it to fit the specific needs of your project. This can include adding additional details, inserting project notes, and creating drop-down lists for easy updates.

A. Adding additional details like task descriptions or priority levels
  • Add task descriptions:

    Include a column for task descriptions to provide more detailed information about each task.
  • Priority levels:

    Create a new column for priority levels to easily identify and prioritize tasks within the project.

B. Inserting project notes or comments
  • Project notes:

    Add a separate sheet within the Excel file to input overall project notes, updates, or important information related to the project.
  • Comments:

    Utilize the comment feature in Excel to leave specific comments or notes on individual tasks or cells within the planner.

C. Creating drop-down lists for task categories or status updates
  • Task categories:

    Generate a drop-down list for task categories to easily categorize and organize tasks based on their nature or type.
  • Status updates:

    Establish a drop-down list for status updates such as "in progress," "completed," "pending," to track the progress of each task.


Using Excel for project planning offers numerous benefits, from easy organization and data management to efficient tracking and visualization of project progress. It's important to practice and explore advanced features to maximize its potential. Additionally, regularly updating and utilizing the project planner is crucial for staying on top of deadlines and deliverables. With dedication and consistent use, Excel can greatly enhance your project management skills and efficiency.

Excel Dashboard

ONLY $99

    Immediate Download

    MAC & PC Compatible

    Free Email Support

Related aticles