Using the Task Information dialog box

Follow these steps to assign durations from the Task Information dialog box:

1. Display the Gantt Chart view (choose ViewOGantt Chart).

2. Double-click a task name to open the Task Information dialog box, as shown in Figure 4-1.

2. Double-click a task name to open the Task Information dialog box, as shown in Figure 4-1.

Figure 4-1: If you double-click an already-entered task name, that name appears in the Name field in this dialog box. If you double-click a blank task name cell, you can fill in the name here.

Tip You can also click the Task Information button on the Standard toolbar, or right-

click either the task name or the task's Gantt bar and select Task Information to ^ display this dialog box.

3. Click the arrows in the Duration field to increase or decrease the duration from the default setting of one day. Each click changes the duration by one day.

Note You may have noticed that Project uses estimated durations — a question mark (?) — by default when you type a task name but no duration into the Gantt table. When you establish a task's duration in the Task Information dialog box, you can place a check mark in the Estimated box to make the duration of the task estimated. Use estimated durations when the time frame for the task isn't firm. You can easily display tasks with estimated durations by using a new filter in Project. (See Chapter 6 for more information about filters.)

4. Click the Duration field, and highlight the current entry to enter a duration in increments other than a day.

Note Project 2000 first gave you the ability to specify a duration in months. Project uses the Calendar tab of the Options dialog box to determine the number of days in a month.

5. Type a new duration by using the following abbreviations: m for minutes, h for hours, w for weeks, and mo for months.

6. Click OK to establish the task duration. For example, the Gantt Chart task bars shown in Figure 4-2 reflect the new task lengths.

Figure 4-2: Task bars become more meaningful after you assign durations.

Start and finish versus duration

You could use the Start and Finish fields in the Task Information dialog box to set a start date and finish date for the task, rather than entering a duration. However, if you use the Start and Finish dates, Project uses only working days in that date range. If you enter a duration, Project calculates the beginning and end of the task, taking into consideration weekends and holidays. These two methods could have different results.

For example, suppose that you have a four-day task that starts on December 23, 2003. The following table shows how that week looks on a calendar:

Sun

Mon

Tues

Wed

Thurs

Fri

Sat

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

December 25, 2003, falls on a Thursday. If you entered 12/23/03 as the start date and 12/26/03 as the finish date, Project would calculate that as an estimated three-day task (assuming that your company closes for Christmas), with work on December 23, 24, and 26. However, if you enter 4 days in the Duration field, the calculated start and finish dates would be 12/23/03 and 12/29/03, respectively, taking into account both the Christmas holiday and a weekend. In this example, the workdays are December 23, 24, 26, and 29.

If a task has immutable timing, such as a Christmas celebration on Christmas day, use the Start and Finish fields. If you know how many workdays a task will require, but not the days on which the work will occur, use the Duration field to set timing, and let Project calculate the actual work dates based on the calendar.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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