Formatting taskbars

Formatting taskbars is similar to formatting text. You can format either an individual taskbar or a category of taskbars, such as milestones or critical tasks. Click a particular task and access the dialog box for formatting just that taskbar by choosing FormatOBar. Alternatively, you can open the dialog box for formatting categories of taskbars by choosing FormatOBar Styles. The settings that you can modify are the same either way.

Tip You can open the Format Bar dialog box by right-clicking the bar that you want to modify and choosing Format Bar from the shortcut menu that appears. You can * open the Bar Styles dialog box by right-clicking a blank spot in the taskbar area of the Gantt Chart and choosing Bar Styles from the shortcut menu that appears.

Figure 8-10 shows the Format Bar dialog box; Figure 8-11 shows the Bar Styles dialog box. The bottom half of the Bar Styles dialog box has two tabbed sheets called Text and Bars. Counterparts to these tabbed sheets appear in the Format Bar dialog box and are called Bar Shape and Bar Text. The Bar Styles dialog box has a table from which you can designate the category of taskbar that you want to modify and the changes that you want to make.

Figure 8-10: You can modify the appearance of an individual taskbar to draw attention to it.

Entry bar Tabs for bar formatting

Entry bar Tabs for bar formatting

Figure 8-11: Use the Bars tab of the Bar Styles dialog box to change the appearance of an entire category of tasks.

You can use the Bars tab at the bottom of the Bar Styles dialog box to set the shape, type or pattern, and color for the bar and its end shapes. Use the Text tab to add text to the chart portion of the Gantt Chart view by following these steps:

No Undo button exists for the changes that Project applies to your schedule when you use the Bar Styles dialog box. Save your project before you start. If you don't like what you get at the end, close your project without saving it and reopen it.

1. Click the Text tab to select the information that you want to display to the left, to the right, above, below, or inside the selected category of taskbar, as shown in Figure 8-12.

2. Select the Name of the category of taskbar to which you want to add text. If necessary, make changes to the category in the Bar Styles table at the top of the dialog box. Immediately following these steps is an explanation of the type of information that appears in each column of the table.

3. At the bottom of the dialog box, select the location for the text that you want to add. Project displays a list box arrow at the edge of the box.

4. Select the text that you want to appear on the chart portion of the Gantt Chart view for the selected category.

5. Click OK to save your changes.

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Figure 8-12: Be careful not to place too much information around taskbars or you'll create a cluttered, illegible Gantt Chart.

The columns in the Bar Styles table at the top of the dialog box are as follows:

♦ Name: This column specifies the taskbar category. To create a new taskbar category name, click the Insert Row button at the top of the dialog box and type in a name. This name appears in a legend for your chart when you print it.

♦ Appearance: This column provides a sample of the current formatting settings for the bar.

Note When you click in any of the next four columns. Project displays a list box arrow at the right edge of the column. Open the list box to identify valid choices for these columns.

♦ Show For . . . Tasks: This column defines the types of tasks that the specified formatting affects. You can specify the type of task to affect by selecting the category from a drop-down list or by typing a category name directly in the cell or in the entry bar. To specify more than one category, add a comma (,) after the first type and then select or type a second category. For example, to specify Normal tasks that are critical and in progress as a new category of taskbar style, choose or type in one of the following: Normal, Critical, In Progress.

Note You can type directly in a Bar Styles table cell; you don't need to type in the Entry bar.

♦ Row: The Row column specifies how many rows of bars (as many as four) you want to display for each task. If you have only one row and you are showing a bar for both the baseline timing and progress, the bars overlap each other. If you want two separate bars, you need two rows. You also can add extra rows to accommodate text above or below taskbars.

Tip If a task fits in several categories, what happens? Project tries to display multiple formatting settings. (For example, if one category is solid blue and the other is a * pattern, you get a blue pattern.) If Project can't display the formats together, the item that is higher in this listing takes over. To modify the formatting precedence, use the Cut Row and Paste Row features to rearrange the rows in the Bar Styles dialog box.

♦ From and To: These columns define the time period that is shown by the bar. The Progress bar, for example, shows the actual date that the task started and the amount of task that was completed through today. Select the time frames from drop-down lists in each of these fields.

Figure 8-13 shows a schedule with expanded rows; the baseline duration is displayed beneath normal taskbars, and the baseline finish date appears to the right of summary taskbars. To display the expanded rows and the baseline duration beneath normal tasks, I used the settings shown in Figure 8-14. In the top of the dialog box, I changed the Row setting for Task from 1 to 2; in the bottom of the dialog box, on the Text tab, I displayed Baseline Duration on the bottom of the tasks and Resource Names to the right of tasks. I then clicked Summary in the top of the box and, on the Text tab below, I chose to display Baseline Finish to the right of summary tasks.

You cannot undo the changes that Project makes when you use the Bar Styles dialog box. You can only close the project without saving it and then reopen it.

The settings in the Bar Styles dialog box enable you to modify, in great detail, the appearance of your schedule and how Project displays or prints it. If you print a legend along with your schedule, the legend reflects these changes. However, remember that modifying taskbar colors isn't of much use in black and white printouts of schedules, and creating too many kinds of formatting with too many variables can make your schedule difficult to read. The advice given previously about standardizing these settings across your organization also holds for changes that you make to taskbar formatting.

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