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Tutorial for

Text Tables 012

Gantt Tables

These gantt tables are nice because they keep everything lined up as you're developing you slide. But there is a development technique that you need to know to help make this happen easily. There are also three table formatting techniques that will help you. They're easy and very valuable to know. Be sure to review the tutorial on this series before you begin customizing these gantt tables. It will save you lots of time – really.

There are two downloads:

  • 2- through 8-week (7-day weeks) gantt tables: 7 slides in the download
  • 2- through 6-month (4-week months): 5 slides in the download

Choose which slide best suits your needs and delete the rest.

IMPORTANT: Now you need a game plan. Here's what we suggest (strongly).

  1. Lay your table out and add all the descriptive text, dates, add columns and distribute them evenly (described below), and basically have your whole gantt table complete except for the lines indicating the timeframes for the activities
  2. Once complete, make sure your "Snap to grid" tool is off and start drawing your lines to represent the timeframes for the activities. Hold your shift key down as you draw your lines to maintain a perfectly horizontal line. This doesn't work in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, so consider using a long, think rectangle instead of a line. Then zoom in and fine tune the start and stop points for the rectangles. Draw one rectangle and duplicate it for each successive activity so that the lines remain the same height.
If you don't follow a game plan like this, you will be constantly shifting, adjusting, moving things around. Be efficient and save yourself a lot of time, keystrokes, and mouse clicks.

Customizing the Gantt Tables

Importing preformatted text tables into your template

Whenever outside content that includes text (these preformatted tables, for example) is brought into your template, skewing is likely to occur. This happens because the two templates have different default text attributes. There is one step that you can take to position yourself so that this skewing is minimized – not only with PowerFrameworks tables, but with all text content brought in from an outside source.

This step is setting the text hierarchy in your slide master so that it works for you and not against you. If your slide master is formatted that the top level of text has a bullet, then all text you bring in from an outside source will have bullets. You don't want this, as it creates the need for a lot of unnecessary reformatting. Not only do you need to get rid of the bullet on imported text, but you need to get rid of the associated indent. You need to rethink the text hierarchy on your slide master. Your PowerFrameworks team strongly recommends that the first level of text hierarchy in a slide master should be nonbulleted, left-aligned text (no indent). The highest level of text on a slide is not bulleted text, it is the heading over/sentence leading into the bulleted text. Please review the best practice entitled, Establishing the Text Hierarchy in Your PowerPoint Slide Master."

Now that you don't have to deal with bullets on everything you import into your template, you can breeze through the rest of the reformatting caused by the other differences in text defaults, which centers around font size and color and font choice. Imported text will default to your settings either in the slide master or the text size you've set for that page. That means, for example, that a table containing 10-point text, once imported, becomes a table containing 22-point text, which seems to distort and scares you near to death.

  • The first step in regaining control is to highlight the whole table and apply a reasonable font size. The table should pop back into its original dimensions.
  • The next step is to apply the correct font and font color. PowerFrameworks text tables are formatted with the Ariel font and the color is black. Choose whatever works best in your presentation.

At this point you can start loading the template with your own content.

Adjust size

Size adjustments for these types of tables are a two-step process. The first size adjustment is the first thing you do after it has been imported into your presentation, and the second size adjustment is the last thing you – after text has been inserted.

Size adjustment 1

If the imported slide is too large for your template (parts of the table overlay the design elements of your slide), then select the whole table and reduce its size until it fits gracefully onto your slide.

Size adjustment 2

Input text into the table and then perform the last size adjustment. These tables work best when the text in each cell is relatively the same size. That way the schedules look uniform, the table presents well, and the slide appears polished. When you have entered all of your text into the cells, you will need to rebalance the table. This is a great tip, incidentally. If you put all of your text into the table first, you will only have to rebalance the page once. A good tool for making the rows and columns uniform is the Distribute Rows Evenly and Distribute Columns Evenly tools (see below). These tools are found in the "Table" menu that either should be a toolbar at the top of PowerPoint 2003 or you can add the Table tools. Click on your table and they should become active. For PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, click on the "Layout" tab in the menu ribbon. Just select the rows or columns you want to distribute evenly and then click on one of the buttons in the red rectangle below.

Make sure that the Tables and Borders toolbar is visible (it looks like the toolbar above). Then select the rows/columns you wish to be the same size and click on the appropriate button.

Merging and Splitting Cells

Since the daily events can span more than one time increment, it's important to merge the cells so the block of time for the event is one cell. Do this by selecting all of the cells in the table that span the time for the event. Then click on Merge Cells. These tools are found in the "Table" menu that either should be a toolbar at the top of PowerPoint 2003 or you can add the Table tools. Click on your table and they should become active. For PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, click on the "Layout" tab in the menu ribbon. Just select the rows or columns you want to merge and then click on the button in the red rectangle below.

The gantt tables are set up with 4-week months and 7-day weeks; however, some months have 5 weeks. In this case you'll need to split one of the columns. These tools are found in the "Table" menu that either should be a toolbar at the top of PowerPoint 2003 or you can add the Table tools. Click on your table and they should become active. For PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, click on the "Design" tab in the menu ribbon. Just select the column you want to split and then click on the button on the left in the red rectangle below. This activates the tool.

When you click on the Draw Table tool (left-hand button in red box above), a little pencil appears in place of your pointer/cursor. Draw with the little pencil a line down the center of the column you'd like to split. Then you'll need to redistribute the columns evenly as described above – easy. If you'd like to erase a line between cells, you can use the Erase tool (right-hand button in red box above). Instead of a pencil appearing in place of your pointer/cursor, you'll see a little eraser. You can also just select the two or more cells and click on Merge Cells, as described above – your choice.

These complex-looking charts are actually very easy to manipulate. Create a table and try them out before you actually need to start working with a schedule. You'll quickly gain the courage to effectively create and revise these gantt tables.

Color variations

You can also apply color to rows and columns:

  • In PowerPoint 2003, simply select the row or column and apply color from the "Fill color" menu (the bucket spilling paint)
  • In PowerPoint 2007, click on the table and then click on the "Design" tab in the menu ribbon; then select a fill color from the "Fill color" menu.

PowerPoint 2007 options

Don't apply special formatting to these gantt tables

3D variations

No 3D


You can apply drop shadows to your timing lines, milestone sprites, etc.

Gradients, patterns, and pictures

Not needed.


Tables cannot be animated, but the overlaying timing lines can be set up as simple wipe reveals.

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