You can use Conditional Formatting in Excel to make building of Gantt Charts much quicker.


The most annoying part of building a Gantt Chart is coloring the boxes.  There are three options:

  1. Use the paint can - This colors each cell individually. This is slow as you need to color and uncolor boxes each time you make a change.
  2. Use the paint brush - This copies format from one cell to another. This is a little faster, since you don't need to keep chossing the same color. But still slow.
  3. Use conditional formatting - this colors a cell according to what is typed in the box. So you can type "x" and it colors it gray. Deleting the "x" removes the color. This is fast because you just use the keyboard to quickly type.

How to Use Conditional Formatting

See this example Excel Sheet: Example_Gantt_Chart.xlsx


  1. Click on a cell that you want colored.
  2. Choose Conditional Formatting under the Home menu.
  3. Choose Highlight Cells Rules -> Text Equal To
  4. Type an "x" into the box and choose Custom Format... in the dropdown. This brings up the format menu.


  5. In the Font Tab choose a light grey font for the text.
  6. In the Fill Tab choose a dark grey color for the fill.
  7. Choose Ok on all the windows.
  8. Type and "x" into the cell you just applied the format to. It will automatically change the fill color of the cell.
  9. Delete the "x" and it automatically deletes the fill color of the cell.

  10. Now use the paintbrush format painter   to apply that format to all the cells in the schedule section 
  11. Choose Conditional Formatting -> Manage Rules to update the rules at any time:


When you're done you can type an "x" in any box and automatically have it format the color you want.  


Tip: you can create multiple conditional formats if you want to use different colors.  You can make "x" = grey and "y"=red for important dates.

Tip: if you make the font and fill the same color you won't see the text. I prefer to have the "x" still visible so other people viewing the chart can figure out how to update themselves but it's not necessary.