Automatically Format Critical Path Activities in MS Project 2010
Date: Thursday, May 22 @ 18:35:41 EDT
Topic: PMConnection Articles

Automatically Format Critical Path Activities in MS Project 2010

If you are a user of Microsoft Project, then you have probably discovered that to see which task are on the critical path, you can use a filter or grouping option.  Or perhaps you attempt to leverage the Tracking Gantt View to see the critical tasks appearing as red task bars.  Using this option works well if you manage your schedule from the gantt chart portion.  But from my experience, most people focus on the tabular portion of their schedule when modifying activity attributes.  If this describes you, then here is a trick that will help.

It is possible to configure MS Project to automatically format the critical path tasks on the tabular portion of your schedule.  Here are the steps:


1. Click on the Format tab

2. Click on Text Styles


3. Click on the dropdown for the Item to change

4. Select Critical Tasks

5. Click on the dropdown for Color

6. Select Red

7. Select Bold under Font Style


8. Click on OK 

The entire row for all tasks that are on the critical path of your schedule will now appear in Bold Red.

But here is the best part… As you are managing / modifying your schedule, if your change causes a new task to come on the critical path, that task will automatically turn Bold Red!!

Since learning this trick a few years ago, I use it on all my schedules.  During the planning stages, I inspect these critical path tasks just to make sure I’m seeing what I would expect.  Many times I will find simple errors in the logic of the plan that I would not have otherwise caught.  Now before committing to delivery dates, I’m more confident that we have developed a realistic plan.  Using this option during the execution phase of my projects allows me to immediately know if the impact of schedule changes causes a change in critical path tasks.

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