How to Make a Gantt Chart in PowerPoint

Build one yourself or use a PowerPoint add-in

What to Know

  • Creating a Gantt chart in PowerPoint is done by editing a stacked bar chart in the slide and making one set of bars invisible.
  • You can save the slide as a template and reuse it, by editing the data under Insert > Chart > Edit Data.

In this article, we’ll lay out how to design one using the tools available in PowerPoint, and briefly discuss other options.

How to Make a Gantt Chart in PowerPoint

A Gantt chart is named after Henry Gantt and lays out visually the time it'll take to complete the sections of a task. Here's how to build one in PowerPoint.

  1. Open a blank slide in PowerPoint, then choose Insert > Chart.

  2. In the open menu, choose Bar > Stacked Chart. A sample chart with a table to add data will automatically be generated in the slide.

    A chart in a PowerPoint slide
  3. Give each phase of your project a row, and name the columns Starting Date, End Date, and Duration. Leave Duration blank for now.

    The chart will load with the data for the top bar at the bottom, which can be confusing. It will automatically update when you change a row, so you can check your work and make sure your rows are in the correct order.

  4. Highlight the Start Date and End Date columns, then right-click and select Format Cells. Select Date from the category and the format you prefer in the window that opens.

    A PowerPoint chart's data cells being formatted with Date and Date Format highlighted

    Notice you can also set the format to “time.” Use this instead if you need a Gantt chart for a single day.

  5. Add the starting and ending date for each task. The chart won’t reflect the change in your data yet, so don’t worry that all the bars seem to be the same.

  6. Type the formula =$C2-$B2 into the first cell under “Duration” and press Tab. Then use the small square in the bottom right corner (the “fill handle”) and drag that down until you’ve reached the last phase in your chart. The duration will automatically fill in.

  7. Click on your chart in the slide, choose the Filter icon, uncheck “End Date,” and click Apply. This option staggers the bars instead of keeping them even.

    A Gantt chart in PowerPoint with the "End Date" column removed from data.
  8. Choose the “start date” bars. If you select one, it will highlight all. Right-click, choose Fill and select No Fill.

    A Gantt chart's bars being formatted to make them invisible with Fill highlighted

    If you’d like to color-code each task, double-click on the bar, and you’ll open the formatting menu for that individual piece.

  9. This option renders those bars invisible.

    The finished Gantt chart.
    The finished Gantt chart.

Should I Build Gantt Charts Manually or Use an Add-In?

Keep in mind while this process can be somewhat time-consuming, there are several add-ins for Microsoft apps that will automate constructing these; you fill in the needed data, and they do the rest. 

That said, most add-ins we found were subscriptions, instead of software, with some running as high as $149 a year. Unless you’re making these charts regularly or are designing more complex ones, you’re probably better off formatting them.

A more viable option is to go through this process once, save the results, and then copy the slide and edit the data whenever you need a new chart. To do this, go to File > Save A Copy and give it a different name. Then go to Chart > Edit Data and revise your information as needed.

  • How do I make a Gantt chart in Excel?

    Excel does not have a Gantt chart function, but you can customize one by using a stacked bar chart to show the start and finish dates of tasks. To do this, select your data and go to Insert > Insert Bar Chart > Stacked Bar chart. To make the stacked bar chart look like a Gantt chart, click the first data series and go to Format > Shape Fill > No Fill.

  • How do I make a Gantt chart in Google Sheets?

    To make a Gantt chart in Google Sheets, you'll build a project schedule, create a calculation table, and then generate the Gantt chart. To generate the Gantt chart, select all cells in the calculation table and go to Insert > Chart; you'll see a new chart called Start Day and Total Duration. Position it below the tables, select it, choose Edit Chart, and then select Stacked bar chart. Go to Customize > Series > Apply to All Series > Start Day. Choose Color > None.

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