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

Oregon

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

Send me your questions at Bruce@RoundTablePM.com