Custom Fields in Microsoft Project
Part six of a six-part series of blogs

Have you ever been frustrated when you can't find a suitable field for entering the data you want in a Microsoft Project plan? Well why not customise your own field and enter anything from simple text, to drop down lists, to complex calculations and even graphical indicators!

  1. Custom Fields in Microsoft Project
  2. Creating Drop Down Lists with Custom Fields
  3. Creating Calculated Custom Fields
  4. Using Functions in Custom Fields
  5. Custom Fields and Summary Tasks
  6. Using Graphical Indicators in Custom Fields (this blog)

This blog is part of a complete guide to customising Microsoft Project.  Wise Owl also run excellent MS Project classroom courses!

Posted by Andrew Gould on 01 August 2011

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Using Graphical Indicators in Custom Fields

For the final article in this blog series on custom fields we're going to see how to assign a set of graphical indicators to one of our calculated fields.  This will make it easy to see at a glance what category our numerical values fall into.

Without graphics With graphics
The original fields. Some graphical indicators.

Choosing to Show Graphical Indicators

When you create a custom field you can choose to show either the values in that field, or replace the values with a set of graphics.  The diagram below shows how to do this:

Choosing to show graphical indicators

Select the field you want to customise, and then click the Graphical Indicators... button.

Setting the Criteria for Indicators

The most awkward job is setting the criteria to display the correct graphics for each set of values.  For our Spend Variance field we want to do the following:

  • If the field value is below 0, show a red unhappy face.
  • If the value is between 0 and 10, show a yellow normal face.
  • If the value is more than 10, show a green smiley face.

To make this work, we need to change three rows in the Graphical Indicators dialog box, as shown below:

Setting up the criteria

In the table within the dialog box we've set up these three criteria.  In the first column you can choose an option from a drop down list, in the Value(s) column you can type in a number, and in the Image column you can select from a large number of icons.

If you're working with a field which has a range of numbers, it's best to structure your criteria in either ascending or descending order of the values you're testing for.  In our example, we've started with the lowest value (less than 0), and worked upwards from there.

When you've finished setting up the criteria, you can click OK twice to confirm your choices and return to the main project view.

The finished fields

You should be able to hover the mouse over any of the icons to see what value is stored in the field.



And that's it!  You now know how to customise every aspect of a custom field in Microsoft Project, from simply renaming one, to creating complex calculations and displaying the results with graphics.  If you've enjoyed this series be sure to check out our other Microsoft software blogs, and feel free to add comments!

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