Using Calendars in Microsoft Project 2010
Part one of a three-part series of blogs

You can't do much in Microsoft Project without understanding how calendars work. Calendars control when work is allowed to happen, so it's important to set them up properly before you start planning your tasks. This blog teaches you how.

  1. Using Calendars in Microsoft Project 2010 (this blog)
  2. Creating Exceptions in Microsoft Project 2010
  3. Creating New Calendars in Microsoft Project 2010

Posted by Andrew Gould on 02 March 2012

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Using Calendars in Microsoft Project 2010

In Microsoft Project calendars determine when your tasks can happen, and you won't get far in planning a project unless you understand them!  This blog series teaches you how to set up your calendars properly to reflect the working times of your organisation.  You can watch a video version of this tutorial if you prefer, but you'll miss out on some useful diagrams later on!

Choosing a Project Calendar

Each new project that you create comes along with a set of default calendars.  The first step in creating a new project is usually to assign one of these calendars as the project calendar.  To do this:

  1. From the ribbon select: Project -> Project Information
  2. Use the option shown below to select a calendar for the project.
Choosing a project calendar

Here we're selecting from the three default calendars in Microsoft Project.

  1. Click OK to confirm your choice of calendar.

The Three Default Calendars

The three calendars you can choose from are:

  • Standard - Provides a "normal" working week of Monday to Friday with default working hours on those days.
  • Night Shift - Provides a model for a suggested night shift working pattern.
  • 24 Hours - There is no non-working time in this calendar.  This should only be used if you are Jack Bauer.

It's a somewhat difficult choice to make at this stage as you have no idea what Project thinks Standard working hours are.  The next step is to find out more detail about the calendar you've chosen.

Viewing Calendar Details

To see the details of a calendar:

  1. From the ribbon select: Project -> Change Working Time
Change working time dialog

White days are working days and grey-shaded days are non-working days.

  1. Select the name of a calendar from the drop down list.  Here the Standard calendar is marked as the (Project Calendar) because that's the one we selected in the Project Information dialog box earlier.
  2. Click on any of the days in the grid.
  3. Use this area to discover the working hours for the selected day.

Microsoft Project Date Trivia: Did you know that the calendar in Project ranges from January 1st, 1984 through to December 31st, 2049?  I'm not sure what Microsoft thinks is going to happen after this, but make sure your projects are finished before that date!

What's Next?

When you've viewed the details of the default calendars you'll probably realise that none of them match your exact needs.  The next part of this blog series will teach you how to make modifications to an existing calendar, and how to create brand new calendars from scratch.


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