Milestone Chart in Excel [Timeline]

Tracking all the steps of a project is an important task. It’s as important as the execution of the each step. In fact, tracking makes execution easy.

And, if you are searching for a perfect chart template in which you can track your project in the simplest way, Milestone Chart should be your first choice.

The basic idea in milestone chart is to track each step of your project on a timeline with its completion date and present it in a simple way.

According to Wikipedia:

Milestones are tools used in project management to mark specific points along a project timeline.

In Excel, there no default option to create a milestone chart but we can create it by using a line chart + small customization.

So today, in this post, I’d like to share with you a 3 step process to create a milestone chart in Excel. All these steps are in detail and easy to follow.

Let’s get started.

how to create a milestone chart in excel

Benefits

Before we get into it, let me tell you some core benefits of using a milestone chart.

  1. It’s easy to check the progress of the project with a milestone chart.
  2. Easy for the user to understand the project scheduling.
  3. You have all the important information in a single chart.

Steps To Create a Milestone Chart in Excel

I have split the entire process into three steps to make it easy for you to understand.

1. Set Up Data

You can easily set up your data for this chart.

Make sure to arrange your data like below data table. To follow along you can download this data table from here.

data to create a milestone chart in excel

In this data table, we have three columns.

  1. The first column is for completion dates of the project stages. And, make sure the format of this column should be text format.
  2. The second column is for activity name.
  3. The third column is just for placement of the activities into the timeline (up and down).

2. Insert a Chart

Now here's the game starts.

Creating a milestone chart is a bit lengthy process but it’s worth for this amazing chart. So, here are the steps.

  • Select any of the cells from the data.
  • Go to Insert Tab -> Charts -> Line With Markers.
insert a line chart with markers to create a milestone chart in excel
  • We’ll get a chart like this. But, this is not what we want, we have to re-create it.
raw chart to create a milestone chart in excel
  • So now, right click on the chart and then go to “Select Data”.
select data to create a milestone chart in excel
  • In select data window, just remove series from legend entries.
remove series to create a milestone chart in excel
  • Now, our chart is totally blank. So, we have to re-assign series and axis labels.
  • Click on “Add” from legend entries.
click add to create a milestone chart in excel
  • In edit series window, enter “Date” in the series name and select activity column for the series values.
select series to create a milestone chart in excel
  • After that, click on edit in “Horizontal Axis Labels” and refer to the date column and click OK.
edit axis label to create a milestone chart in excel steps
  • Next, we have to insert an another series. Click on “Add” in legend entries and name it “Placement” and refer series values to placement column.
add new series to create a milestone chart in excel
  • Now, just click OK.

At this point, we have a chart which looks like a timeline. But we need a small touch of formatting to make it a perfect milestone chart.

final chart to create a milestone chart in excel steps

==> Download this file to get the chart up to this step.

3. Final formatting

A small touch of formatting.

Just follow these simple steps.

  • Click on the line chart and open formatting option.
  • For line, use “No Color”.
no line to create a milestone chart in excel
  • With the same selection, go to Design Tab -> Add Chart Element -> Error Bars -> More Error Bars Options.
add error bars to create a milestone chart in excel
  • Now, from the formatting options, select direction “Minus” and error value “Percentage: 100%” for error bars.
format error bars to create a milestone chart in excel
  • After that, convert your line chart into secondary axis and instantly delete the secondary axis.

Now, the last and important thing you have to do, add the activity name for each step.

  • First of all, add data labels.
  • Now, from data label formatting options, select “Category Name”.
add data labels to create a milestone chart in excel
  • After that, select your chart and click on “Select Data”.
  • Click on “Placement” series.
edit series to add data labels to create a milestone chart in excel
  • From axis label, click on edit and refer to activity column.
select data label range to create a milestone chart in excel
  • Click OK.
final chart with formatting to create a milestone chart in excel steps

Sample File

Download this sample file from here to learn more.

Conclusion

As I said, milestone chart is simple to understand for the end user and you can track your project scheduling in a simple way.

It looks a bit tricky when you are making it for the first time but, if you are an emerging project manager then it’s must for you to give it a try.

And, I hope you found this step by step method helpful.

😃

Now tell me one thing. Have you ever tried this chart before? And how much it can help you in your project tracking? Share your views in the comment section, I would love to hear from you.

And, please don’t forget to share it with your friends.

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  • Lisa Gordon Delgado

    This is awesome! There are so many applications for this tip. I can see making a marketing timeline for a product launch!

    • Puneet Gogia

      Yup, you are right Lisa.

  • Plastic Cup

    Thank you, Puneet! Using error bars solved the problem of the data labels floating around whenever the data changes. Now, they stay right next to the data point!

    • Puneet Gogia

      Yup.

  • Md. Hasan

    how can i convert line chart into secondary axis and instantly delete the secondary axis.