Modifying a Network Diagram

Network diagrams display tasks as boxes, or nodes, with link lines showing the task dependencies. Because a network diagram doesn't include a task sheet like the Gantt chart, it's important to specify the information that you want to appear inside the boxes. You can customize the appearance of the boxes or how they are arranged within the diagram.

Formatting the Content and Appearance of Boxes

Just as you can change the appearance of Gantt bars for different types of tasks, you can modify the boxes in a network diagram depending on the task type. You can also control what task information appears inside those boxes.

To change the appearance and content for all boxes of a particular type, do the following:

1 Click View, Network Diagram.

2 Click Format, Box Styles.

The Box Styles dialog box lists all the box types for the current view and the settings for their appearance (see Figure 25-6).


Figure 25-6. You can customize the appearance of a network diagram box as well as specify what task information appears inside each box.

Figure 25-6. You can customize the appearance of a network diagram box as well as specify what task information appears inside each box.

3 To customize a specific type of box, click its name in the list.

4 To change the fields that appear within the box, click a data template in the Data Template box.

A preview of the box using the selected data template appears.

Tip Show other information in a Network Diagram

You can also modify or create new data templates for the boxes in the Network Diagram. For example, you might want to include a custom field in a data template. Click More Templates, click a template name, and then click Edit or Copy. To create a new template, click New. To insert a field into the data template, click the cell where you want to insert the field, click the down arrow, and then click the name of the field in the list.

You can also add fields that display graphical indicators to the template.

5 If necessary, change the shape, color, and width of the box border.

6 If you want to display horizontal or vertical gridlines between the fields inside a box, select the Show Horizontal Gridlines and Show Vertical Gridlines check boxes.

7 If necessary, choose a background color and pattern.

Caution Although you can select different colors and patterns for the box background, any combination other than solid white makes it difficult to read the task information.


To change the displayed fields and border appearance for individual boxes (rather than all boxes showing a particular type of project information), follow these steps:

1 Choose the boxes you want to format in the Network Diagram.

2 Click Format, Box.

3 In the Data Template box, click the data template you want to use. A preview of the box using the selected data template appears.

4 Make the changes you want to the shape, color, and width of the border.

5 Make the changes you want to the background color and pattern for the box.

Tip Access the Format dialog box

You can open the Format Box dialog box by double-clicking the border of a box. Double-clicking the background of a Network Diagram opens the Box Styles dialog box.

Formatting the Layout of Boxes

The Network Diagram is much like a flowchart of the tasks in a project. The layout options for the Network Diagram control how boxes are positioned and aligned, the distance between the boxes, the appearance of links, and other settings.

To change the layout of a Network Diagram, do the following:

1 Click Format, Layout.

The Layout dialog box appears.

2 To position boxes manually by dragging, select the Allow Manual Box Positioning option.

3 In the Arrangement box, choose the order in which boxes are placed on the diagram. For example, you can arrange the boxes from the top left down to the bottom right of the diagram. You can choose to place critical tasks before others.

4 Choose the alignment, distance between rows and columns, and the width and height of the boxes.

5 Select link options such as whether to draw lines orthogonally or directly between boxes, whether to include arrows and link labels.

6 If necessary, choose link colors.

Tip Fine-tune the display of the Network Diagram

If you select the option to position boxes automatically, it's a good idea to also select the Adjust For Page Breaks check box in the Box Layout section. Otherwise, boxes located across a page break are printed on two pages in the diagram.

Summary tasks are difficult to distinguish in a Network Diagram, so you might want to clear the Show Summary Tasks check box. If you display summary tasks, it's best to select the Keep Tasks With Their Summaries check box.

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