Format a network diagram

The Network Diagram (Network Diagram: A diagram that shows dependencies between project tasks. Tasks are represented by boxes, or nodes, and task dependencies are represented by lines that connect the boxes. In Project, the Network Diagram view is a network diagram.) view shows dependencies (task dependencies: A relationship between two linked tasks; linked by a dependency between their finish and start dates. There are four kinds of task dependencies: Finish-to-start [FS], Start-to-start [SS], Finish-to-finish [FF], and Start-to-finish [SF].) between project tasks (task: An activity that has a beginning and an end. Project plans are made up of tasks.) by using boxes, or nodes, that are linked with lines. You can adjust the layout of the boxes, the style of the link lines, and the information that is displayed in the view.

What do you want to do?


Adjust the box layout

Depending on the structure of your project, the number of summary tasks (summary task: A task that is made up of subtasks and summarizes those subtasks. Use outlining to create summary tasks. Project automatically determines summary task information [such as duration and cost] by using information from the subtasks.) and subtasks (subtask: A task that is part of a summary task. The subtask information is consolidated into the summary task. You can designate subtasks by using the Project outlining feature.), and the number and types of task links (link type: The type of task dependency. The four dependency types are Finish-to-start [FS], Finish-to-finish [FF], Start-to-start [SS], and Start-to-finish [SF].), the Network Diagram boxes may not be arranged as you expected. You can modify the layout by applying different box arrangements, adjusting various layout parameters, and applying one of two different link styles.

  1. On the View menu, click Network Diagram.
  2. On the Format menu, click Layout.
  3. Under Box Layout, in the Arrangement list, click how you want the boxes to be arranged.
  4. For rows and columns, specify alignment, spacing, height, and width in the corresponding boxes.

To space boxes evenly, click Fixed in the Height and Width boxes.

  1. If you want to keep summary tasks and subtasks together, select the Keep tasks with their summaries check box.

 Notes 

  • If you have grouped tasks in the Network Diagram view, all boxes are positioned automatically. You won't be able to manually position or change the arrangement of boxes. Summary tasks and their subtasks are arranged according to options you set before you applied the group. These options can't be changed until you undo grouping.
  • You can also use your mouse to display the Box Styles dialog box. Simply double-click a blank area of the Network Diagram view, and the Box Styles dialog box appears.
  • You can more easily see the effect of your changes by selecting the Hide all fields except ID check box under Diagram Options.
  • If you can't arrange Network Diagram boxes the way you want using the default selection of Automatically position all boxes under Layout Mode, you may want to position them manually. Click Allow manual box positioning, click OK, and then drag the boxes to the location you want.
  • You can zoom in and out to see more or less of the project in the Network Diagram view. On the View menu, click Zoom. Under Zoom To, click the percentage you want, or click Entire project to display the entire project within the window. If you zoom the view to 75% or less, you can position the pointer over the Network Diagram boxes to view task details at 100%.

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Why aren't the boxes positioned the way I want?

If you have changed the layout mode of the Network Diagram view to allow manual box positioning, Microsoft Office Project doesn't lay out the Network Diagram according to the settings under Box Layout in the Layout dialog box (Format menu) until you reapply the layout.

If Allow manual box positioning in the Layout dialog box is selected, you can change the layout as follows:

  • If you manually repositioned a task or tasks, you can change the layout of all Network Diagram boxes to the layout that is defined in the Layout dialog box by clicking Layout Now (Format menu).
  • If you manually repositioned a task, you can change the layout of the linked tasks or subtasks in relation to the task that you moved. Right-click the task and then click Layout Related Tasks Now on the shortcut menu to move the related tasks while keeping the task that you repositioned previously in the same place.
  • If you manually repositioned multiple tasks, you can reposition the tasks to the positions that are defined in the Layout dialog box. To select adjacent tasks, hold down SHIFT, and then click the first and last tasks that you want. To select nonadjacent tasks, hold down CTRL, and then click the tasks that you want. Right-click, and then click Layout Selection Now on the shortcut menu.
  • To display the Network Diagram toolbar (toolbar: A bar with buttons and options used to carry out commands. To display a toolbar, point to Toolbars on the View menu, and then click the toolbar you want. To see more buttons, click Toolbar Options at the end of the toolbar.) containing the Layout Now Button image and Layout Selection Now Button image buttons, right-click the background of any toolbar and then click Network Diagram on the shortcut menu.
  • To automatically reposition the Network Diagram boxes by using a specific box arrangement, click Layout (Format menu). Under Layout Mode, click Automatically position all boxes. Under Box Layout, select an arrangement in the Arrangement list. Under Row, in the Alignment, Spacing, and Height boxes, select how you want the horizontal rows of Network Diagram boxes to be displayed. Under Column, in the Alignment, Spacing, and Width boxes, select how you want the vertical columns of Network Diagram boxes to be displayed.

 Note   When a group is applied in the Network Diagram view, the layout options you specified take effect; however, you are not able to change box arrangement options. If layout changes need to be made, you need to temporarily remove grouping from the Network Diagram in order to specify the layout options you want.

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Change the link line style

If you have many tasks that are linked to a predecessor (predecessor: A task that must start or finish before another task can start or finish.) or successor (successor: A task that cannot start or finish until another task starts or finishes.) task, the link lines (link line: On the Gantt Chart and Network Diagram, the line that appears between two tasks to indicate a task dependency.) can overlap and be difficult to read in the Network Diagram view. You can change the style of the link lines and arrange them how you want. You can also display task dependency (task dependencies: A relationship between two linked tasks; linked by a dependency between their finish and start dates. There are four kinds of task dependencies: Finish-to-start [FS], Start-to-start [SS], Finish-to-finish [FF], and Start-to-finish [SF].) labels on the link lines.

  1. On the View menu, click Network Diagram.
  2. On the Format menu, click Layout.
  3. Do one of the following:
    • To display link lines as straight lines between predecessor and successor task boxes, under Link style, click Straight.
    • To display link lines as horizontal and vertical line segments connected at right angles between predecessor and successor task boxes, under Link style, click Rectilinear.
  4. To display labels on link lines identifying the task dependency and any lead (lead time: An overlap between tasks that have a dependency. For example, if a task can start when its predecessor is half-finished, you can specify a finish-to-start dependency with a lead time of 50 percent for its successor [has a negative lag value].) or lag time (lag time: A delay between tasks that have a dependency. For example, if you need a two-day delay between the finish of one task and the start of another, you can establish a finish-to-start dependency and specify a two-day lag time [has a positive value].), under Link style, select the Show link labels check box.
  5. To display link lines with arrows indicating the predecessor and successor of tasks, under Link style, select the Show arrows check box.

 Tip   If Allow manual box positioning is selected and you manually reposition a task, you can change the layout of linked tasks or subtasks in relation to the task that you moved. Right-click the task and then click Layout Now on the shortcut menu to move the related tasks while keeping the task that you repositioned previously in the same place.

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Change what task information is displayed

To meet your different information needs, you can change the task information in the Network Diagram boxes to display what is most important to you.

  1. On the View menu, click Network Diagram.
  2. On the Format menu, click Box Styles.
  3. In the Style settings for list, click the task category whose content and appearance you want to change.
  4. Under Border, choose the shape, color, width, and gridline options to create the look you want.
  5. Do one of the following:
    • To modify or create a data template, click More Templates and continue to step 6.
    • To apply an existing template, go to step 12.
  6. In the Data Templates dialog box, do one of the following:
    • To edit an existing template, select one, and then click Edit.
    • To base a new template on an existing template, select one, and then click Copy.
    • To create a new template, click New.

 Note   You can also import a template from another project. In the Data Templates dialog box, click Import, and then in the Import Template dialog box, under Project, click the project from which you want to import a template. In the Template box, click the template you want, and then go to step 11.

  1. In the Template name box, type a name for the new or revised template.
  2. In the Show data from task ID box, type or select the task ID number of the task you want to display in the preview window.
  3. To change how cells are displayed, click Cell layout, select the display options you want, and then click OK.
  4. Under Choose cell(s), type or select the fields you want to display.
  5. Click OK, and then click Close.
  6. To apply the new or revised template, click it in the Templates list.

 Note   You can also use your mouse to display the Box Styles dialog box. Simply double-click a blank area of the Network Diagram view, and the Box Styles dialog box appears.

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Applies to:
Project 2007