Monday, May 25, 2020

15 Excel Like Features in Microsoft Project – Part 1


There are a number of features that MS Excel users can use in MS Project. If you have mastery over MS Excel features frequently used, you can use many such features in MS Project.


Important Caveat: At the outset, I want to make this distinction clear: MS Excel is NOT a replacement for MS Project. The MS Project software stands on its own as a project management scheduling, cost, and resource management tool. MS Excel software, on the other hand, is a data storage, validation, analysis, representation tool with a number of built-in formulas. This article only informs the excel like features in MS Project.

I’ve used MS Project 2019 while using the features. I believe almost all of these features will be available in the earlier editions of MS Project, i.e., MS Project 2016 and MS Project 2013. I am not sure of very old editions such as MS Project 2010 and MS Project 2007.

This series: Part - 2

This series: Part - 3

Feature – 1: Auto-filling of items

Brief: Instead of filling up repetitive task names or resource types etc., you want to auto-fill these items.

How to do: To have auto-fill, you have to simply select the item and as the arrow converts to a tiny black plus symbol without arrows, you can drag the items to fill.

Example: I’ve a task A1 and I need to have similar 5 tasks. Simply put your cursor over the right corner of task’s cell and ensure it converts to a small black plus symbol without arrows. Next, drag the arrow down.

After the arrow converts to a small “+” sign, select and drag it down.


After you have dragged down, you need to release the mouse pointer. 


Similarly, if you have similar durations, you can drag for the duration by putting the cursor over there. I selected the 1st cell for duration and did an autofill. It comes as shown below.



Feature – 2: Insertion of multiple rows (Not columns)

Brief: You want to add multiple rows in one go. 

How to do: Select the number of rows before which you want to do insertion. Next, right click and use command “Insert Resource” or “Insert Tasks”. Based on the number of rows selected, an equal number of rows of resources or tasks will be added. 

Example: In the below figure, I’ve a set of human, material and cost resources. Do note that I’ve used the autofill feature to populate the resource names as well as the resource types.


Let’s say, we now have three more human resources for the project – “Human Resource 6”, “Human Resource 7”, and “Human Resource 8”.  You can add it at the bottom of the sheet or you can add just below “Human Resource 5”. However, to add just below “Human Resource 5”, you need to insert multiple new rows. To do so, select “Material Resource 1” and the subsequent two rows – “Material Resource 2” and “Material Resource 3”. And then right click. 


Next, select “Insert Resource” command as shown above. As you have selected 3 rows of resources, 3 more rows will be inserted. Because you selected three rows and then used the “Insert Resource” command shown above, three new rows are added.


As shown above, you now have 3 more rows added. Next, you can enter the resource names. If you have selected four rows and then clicked insert resource command, then four rows will be added. Depending on your need, you can add as many new rows at any place in the sheet.

Note: This feature is not applicable for columns in MS Project.

Feature – 3: Selection of Entire Row or Entire Column

Brief: You want to select the entire row or entire column in a table of any view.

How to do: Like Excel, you can select an entire row or entire column with two keyboard shortcuts. 
  • “Shift + Spacebar” command – Selects the entire row.
  • “Control + Spacebar” command – Selects the entire column.
Example: Put your cursor anywhere in the view of the MS Project. Currently, my cursor is placed on task “A3”.

Next, press “Shift + Spacebar” to select the entire row of A3. This is shown below. The selected row has been highlighted.

On the other hand, if you, press “Control + Spacebar”, then the entire column of A3, which is shown below. The selected column containing A3 task has been highlighted.


Feature – 4: Selection of a contiguous set of rows or a contiguous set of columns

Brief: You want to select a contiguous set of rows (or columns) in a table in any view of MS Project.

How to do: Like Excel, you can select a contiguous set of rows or a contiguous set of columns with two keyboard commands.
  • Select a column + “Shift” key+ Select the other column – Selects a set of columns, from the first selected column.
  • Select a row + “Shift” key + Select the other row – Selects a set of rows, from the first selected row.
Example: Let’s say you have selected the “Task Mode” column in the below Gantt chart view. Next, you want to select all the columns upto “Finish”. For that, press the “Shift” key and simultaneously select the “Finish” column. With this, all the columns from “Task Mode” to “Finish” will be selected.

The below view shows that the “Task Mode” column is selected.

In the below view (after using the “Shift” key and simultaneously select the “Finish” column), you have all the columns selected.



Feature – 5: Selection of a discontiguous set of rows or a discontiguous set of columns

Brief: You want to select a discontiguous set of rows (or columns) in a table in any view of MS Project.

How to do: You can use two keyboard commands for this purpose. The commands are similar.
  • Select the row, hold down the “Control” key and select other rows: This selects a discontiguous set of rows.
  • Select the row, hold down the “Control” key and select other columns: This Selects a discontiguous set of rows columns.
Example: As shown below, I’ve selected a row, i.e., the first row, in "Resource Sheet" view.


Next, you need to hold down the “Control” key and select as many rows (discontiguous ones). All of them will be selected as shown below.




This series: Part - 2

This series: Part - 3



Articles on MS Project:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Any comment is welcome - comments, review or criticism. But off-topic, abusive, defamatory comments will be moderated or may be removed.