How to Create a Milestone Chart in Excel

Tracking all the steps of a project is an important task.

You know this, right?

It’s as important as the execution of each step. In fact, tracking makes execution easy.

In Excel, one of the simplest yet power charts which you can use to track your projects is a MILESTONE CHART.

They also call it “Timeline Chart”.

It’s one of the favorite project management tools of Experts.

It visually shows a timeline where you can specify key milestones, deliverable, and other checkpoints.

how to create a milestone chart in excel

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

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

And today…

In this post…

I would like to share with you a simple 3 steps process to create a milestone chart in Excel.

...so let's get started.

Benefits of Using a Milestone Chart

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

  • It’s easy to check the progress of the project with a milestone chart.
  • Easy for the user to understand the project scheduling.
  • 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

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. 

...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

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

Conclusion

As I said, milestone chart is easy 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.

I hope you found this step by step method helpful but now tell me one thing.

Have you ever tried this chart before?

Share your views in the comment section, I'd love to hear from you and please don’t forget to share it with your friends.

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2018-08-31T11:14:42+00:00
  • Ute S- says:

    There are no images shown in this article. Can you fix it?

  • Md. Hasan says:

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

  • Plastic Cup says:

    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!

  • Lisa Gordon Delgado says:

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

    • Puneet Gogia says:

      Yup, you are right Lisa.

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