Multiple Timeline Views in MS Project

tim.runcie

One of the key features of MS Project is called the timeline view. The idea behind this is simply that Gantt charts can be too weighty and busy, or in some cases, too detailed for some audiences. For years, project managers would have to delay presentations to build a separate Visio or PowerPoint view to communicate a high level roll-up to different stakeholder audiences.

This topic isn’t how to build a timeline, but how to have multiple timelines all within a single schedule. Since you may have different audiences that want to see different milestones, what we often do is completely rebuild the timeline view each time to showcase different values to each audience.

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If you are spending more than 30 minutes once a week managing your schedule(s), then you are spending too much time and there are some knowledge gaps which you can fill with a little training.

I’m going to show you how to have multiple timeline views (named) for different audiences so that you can, at will, change, export, print, .pdf or copy and paste out to different audiences who are not going to have or use MS Project. All without having to replace or rebuild your views.

Build timeline in MS Project

First of all, let’s help you build your timeline (the steps will be the same for building each new view).

Step 1:  Build a Project Schedule

Step 2:  Right click on any task or milestone you want to put on the timeline and choose from the sort cut menu Add to Timeline, or select the task by clicking on it and then use the Add to Timeline button on the ribbon (as seen here on the Task Tab).  Another method is to simply highlight the row and drag the task object to the timeline view.

Once the timeline view is built, you can click on any task in the timeline and format it from the Format Ribbon tab.

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Whichever way you like, you can quickly pull tasks, milestones, or summary tasks to a view and help create a snapshot of key activities based on your schedule.

Now here is where many project managers stop. When a different audience needs to see different information, some managers or schedulers will delete the existing tasks from the view and rebuild it each time. Ugh! Here is where a little information goes a long way.

Create multiple timeline views in MS Project

You can actually save and name different Timeline views so all you have to do is switch between them quickly and easily. The steps for building a timeline don’t change – the key is to save and name a timeline view.

Step 1:  Build a Timeline view

Step 2:  Click inside the timeline view to activate the Timeline Ribbon’s context sensitive Timeline Tools as seen here.

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You will notice on the ribbon that there are options to copy the timeline to any external source, but to the far right, there is an option to switch the Timeline view.

Step 3:  Click on the Timeline View Drop down as seen here and choose the More Views option.

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When you choose this option you will be able to choose a new view.

Step 4:  Click the New button.

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Step 5Choose the Single View option and then click the OK button

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Step 6:  Now from the View Definition dialogue box, give the view a new name, choose the Timeline view type from the screen and make sure you select Show in Menu to easily find and select your new view. Of course click the OK button when you are done.

In this case I will name my view “Finance Steering Committee”, which you will see in the next screen of created views.

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Step 7Click the Apply button in the More Views dialogue box, or close and try this from the ribbon.  Your new View awaits you.

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Here is the view from the Ribbon.

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Either way, you now have a blank timeline view you can add your tasks and milestones that a different audience will want to see. Format this new timeline view and you can switch between different Timeline views by simply clicking the drop down and going between Timeline (the default) and any named views.

It’s these little shortcuts that save countless key strokes, rebuilding, reformatting and allow project managers the ability to get in, get out and get back to work. For expert help on Microsoft programs and ways to improve business efficiencies in the Seattle metro area, contact Advisicon and get started today.

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Showing 6 comments
  • JackThomas

    Hi,
    Microsoft Project: Can I set a task in my timeline to only occur on select possible dates?
    Regards,
    MSProject Geek

  • Pam Greensky
    Pam Greensky

    Hi Jack,

    You can always filter for what you want (time frame) and then highlight and drag the to the timeline or simply right click and add to timeline.

    I would be happy to go over a few other approaches to adding tasks to the timeline (by section, stage, Sprint, etc.).

    Reach out and let’s chat.

    Warm regards,

    ~Tim Runcie, Project MVP.

  • Patty Montesi

    Hi there!
    Is it possible to keep all the formatting used in one timeline view to the next? I have a timeline that is viewed at a year, then I need separate views by quarter. But when I make the view, I lose all my color coding and formatting I established in the year view.
    Thanks so much,
    Patty

  • pam.greensky
    pam.greensky

    Hi Patty,

    Sorry, it’s not possible to do that. You can create and name different views and the formatting applied will stay with that named view.

    Email us if you have any further questions.

    Pam

  • Jerome

    Is it possible, after creating multiple timelines with different milestones on each, to have all the timelines displayed one above the other, so that all the different timelines appear together?

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