Dear PM Advisor. June 11, 2012

Dear PM Advisor, Do you have any suggestions or tricks for printing a clear and visible Gantt chart of average size when you don't have access to a plotter? The Gantt chart I have right now is for one project which includes 70 tasks, it is printed on six separate 8 1/2 by 11 sheets that are taped together like a puzzle. So, in order to keep it legible, at least in 11 point font, are there places you can go who will print out? i.e. FedEx/Kinkos.

Blind as a Bat


Dear Blind as a Bat,

You can certainly go to Kinkos, Staples or any office supply store. But I've never needed to do so in my 20 years of managing projects. I print it out on legal paper on the office printer. But first I need to get it to the right size. There are a lot of tricks to getting it down in size from the 3 x 2 sheets you are currently using.

Start by reducing the number of pages wide to only one:

  • First of all, print it on legal size paper.
  • Decide how many columns you really want to display.
    • By deleting a column, the data still exists and can be regenerated simply by re-inserting that column.
    • When you print out a Gantt chart, you only need to satisfy the audience you are printing for
      • They may not need to see the baseline start and finishes, the successors or any of the budget columns.
  • You can reduce the width of columns until numbers in there are reduced to #####, then widen them slightly to display the numbers again
  • When you've made the above adjustments, widen the column containing all the bars until it reaches but doesn't overlap the last column you wish to display
    • If you overlap even a little, that column won't print out.
  • Reduce the size of the bars to show just what you can fit on one page width.
    • You do that by pressing the + and - zoom buttons located near the right on the standard menu bar.
  • If you have an extremely long project, you needn't display all the dates. When you print you can select the dates that will be displayed.
    • Select File - Print then select the dates that you wish to print.

Now we'll reduce the amount of pages in height:

  • Get rid of the legend. Few people need it and it takes many lines from each page.
    • Press File - Page Setup and go to the tab called 'Legend'
    • Click on the choice 'Legend on' None
  • Open up only the summary tasks that are relevant to those who will be reading your printout.
    • Tasks that have been completed for a while or which won't be worked on for months can be rolled up to their parent summary tasks
    • Do this by pressing on the '-' sign to the left of the bold summary tasks.
    • You can open them back up when you need them by pressing on the '+' sign that replaces the '-' sign when you roll them up.

When you feel like you'll be printing out what you need, do a Print Preview before you print. Once you're comfortable, print it out, then tape the two or three pages together vertically.

Can anybody else add to these tricks?

PM Advisor

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