The Gantt Chart Explained: Learning How a Gantt Chart Is Used in Project Management
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What Is a Gantt Chart?

written by: Lucinda Watrous • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 7/13/2013

Gantt Charts are very commonly used in Project Management. Have you ever wondered where they came from and what they really are? Keep reading to find out more on the definition of a Gantt Chart.

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    The Basics

    A Gantt Chart is a graphical representation used in project management that will show the length of time tasks in the project should take, Gantt Chart for Accreditation with Dependency and Critical Path as measured against real time. This helps the project to run more smoothly because:

    • you can easily see the order of tasks.
    • you can see project progress in terms of where you are and where you should be, because each task is given a time allotment.
    • helps you see any dependencies that may exist between tasks.

    Not only will this help with the planning phase of the project where you must decide the course of action to take, but it will also help monitor the project and keep it on track.

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    The Gantt Chart was invented by Henry Laurence Gantt during the 1910s. He passed away in 1919, but in the 1920s, his charts started becoming an accepted visual aid for the progression and tracking of a project. By the 1950s, his charts were being used in many major projects all over world.

    The first Gantt Charts were nothing more than a series of tasks on the left hand side of the paper, with a calendar of dates running across the top. All you had to do was color in a bar to represent the length of time each task was to take, and therefore you were able to see an estimate of how long the entire project should take. Looking at this, you could also see the progress on a project, the same way you can with today's Gantt Charts.

    Milestone Charts were also used in conjunction with this basic Gantt Chart, to notate only the important portions of a project. In today's project management and Gantt Charts, we generally see the two charts combined, so that we can see the timeline and milestone expectations together.

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    Creating Gantt Charts

    Common programs for creating Gantt Charts are Microsoft Project, Microsoft Visio and Microsoft Excel. If you need another option, there are several programs available. Find out more in Gantt Chart Examples and Tutorials.

    For more information on creating a Gantt Chart in Excel, please see this article: How to Create a Gantt Chart in Excel, and the accompanying sample Gantt Chart.


  • Gantt Chart example supplied by Linda Richter

Working with Gantt Charts

We have several articles related to creating and working with Gantt Charts. Click each for some helpful information.
  1. What Is a Gantt Chart?
  2. Gantt Chart Examples and Tutorials
  3. Using Excel to Create a Gantt Chart
  4. How to Make a Gantt Chart in PowerPoint
  5. Project 2007: How to Create a Gantt Chart
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