Important Tricks and Traps of Microsoft Word


Microsoft Project has functions that catch out users. You should understand these
functions and be able to identify when they have been used inadvertently.
The “Delete” Key
Striking the delete key will delete data without warning. So keep your fingers away
from it. It is recommended that you place the Tasks ID in the description of the last
task so you know if you have deleted a task in error.
Typing a Date or Dragging a Task Sets a Constraint!
Functions that set a constraint without warning are:
❖ Typing or selecting a start date in a Start date field will set a Start No Earlier
Than constraint
❖ Typing or selecting a finish date in a Finish date field will set a Finish No
Earlier Than constraint
❖ Dragging a bar in the Gantt Chart View will set a Start No Earlier Than
Note: You need to be very careful when dragging tasks or typing into date fields
as this will set a constraint and the tasks will not move forward in time when
predecessors are removed or finished earlier.
 Indicators Column
The Indicators column is a very useful feature that identifies when a task has an
attribute that is different from a normal task which has been created by inserting a
new task. The indicators column will display a Constraint icon when a constraint
has been set:
❖ Before entering a date in a Start or Finish field or Dragging a Task, the
indicator column is blank:
❖ After entering a date in a Start or Finish field or Dragging a Task, a constraint
is set. There now is a Constraint indicator in the Indicator column:❖ A note is displayed when the indicator field has the mouse pointer placed over
the indicator cell:
❖ The indicator column shows a different icon when tasks have Notes, Task
Calendar or a Constraint conflict causing Negative Float (Slack):
Note: No indicator is displayed with a Deadline Date, unless Negative Float is
Why Are Tasks Scheduled before the Predecessors?
There are a couple of reasons why tasks would be displayed before a
predecessor relationship would allow them to be scheduled:
❖ An Actual Start date has been set, or
❖ Tasks will always honor their constraint dates is set and the task has a
Late constraint.
Understanding the Actual Start Date
An Actual Start is set by entering a date in the Actual Start field or entering a %
❖ Once an Actual Start date has been set a predecessor relationship does not
affect the Actual Start date.
❖ A predecessor relationship may cause an in-progress Task with an Actual
Start date to split when the FILE, Options, Schedule tab Split in progress
tasks option has been checked.
Tasks Will Always Honor Their Constraint Dates
There is an option in the FILE, Options, Schedule form titled Tasks will always
honor their constraint dates. This option forces a task to be scheduled before
the predecessors when the successor has a Finish no later than or Start no later than constraint. In effect, this option will make all constraints override
relationships, more on this over the page.
With this option set, a task with a Must Start On constraint set prior to a
predecessor’s Finish date will display an Early Start on the constraint date and not
the scheduled date. The Total Slack may not calculate as the difference between
Late Start and Early Start.
Examine the following two examples with the option box checked and unchecked:
❖ Tasks will always honor their constraint dates: option box checked:
Task 3 starts before the predecessor finishes and the Total Slack of the
second task is calculated as minus 2 days, which is not the difference
between the Early Finish and the Late Finish dates. This constraint does not
adhere to commonly accepted Total Float calculations.
❖ Tasks will always honor their constraint dates: option box NOT checked
and the Total Float is calculated correctly:
Note: It is suggested that this option is NEVER switched on, as the schedule may
appear to be achievable when it is not.
The Project Will Not Open!
All Microsoft Project files have a *.mpp file extension, so it is difficult to determine
the version that a Microsoft Project file was created with.
Microsoft Project 2016, 2013 and 2010 share the same format and may not be
opened by earlier versions of Microsoft Project. Microsoft Project 2016, 2013 and
2010 may save to 2007 and 2000-2003 format.
The FILE, Options, Trust Center, Trust Center Settings…, Legacy Format
option also determines if you are able to open earlier formats, it is recommended
that you select the Prompt when loading files with legacy or non-default file
format so you will know when you are opening an earlier file format.
When saving to earlier versions there may a loss of data and different software
versions can result in different calculations in some circumstances. For example: Microsoft Project 2000-2003 format does not support either Cost Resources or
the naming of Calendar Non Work Days.
You should use the Gantt Chart Wizard to format the bars when opening a
project from Microsoft Project 2016, 2013 or 2010 that was created with Microsoft
Project 2007 or earlier version. If you use the Ribbon functionalities, the baseline
will be hidden behind the current bars.
Note: One of the well know methods of obtaining a corrupt file is to work in older
versions or changing version formats on a regular basis and both these practices
should be avoided.
 The Logic Keeps Changing!
The logic will change if a task is dragged to another position when FILE, Options,
Schedule tab, Autolink inserted or moved tasks option checked.
This option is intended to be used to automatically link new inserted tasks with a
predecessor to the task above and a successor to the task below.
The downside of this function is that when the task is moved this function will
change the existing predecessors and successors of the following:
❖ Moved task,
❖ Original tasks that were above and below the moved task, and
❖ New tasks that are now above and below the moved tasks.
This function will potentially make substantial changes to your project logic and
may affect the overall project duration.
Note: It is strongly recommended that this option is NEVER switched on, as
dragging an activity to a new location may completely change the logic of a
schedule without warning.
An example of this process is shown below:
❖ Original Logic:
❖ Task D dragged with Autolink inserted or moved tasks checked. Note the
logic has changed on many tasks:❖ Task D dragged with Autolink inserted or moved tasks unchecked. The logic has not changed:
Why Do New Tasks Have an Early Start Constraint?
Unlike other scheduling software, Microsoft Project normally ignores the Status
Date when calculating a schedule with progress. It schedules tasks without an
Actual Start or predecessors or constraints on the Project Start Date, or as close
to the Project Start Date as calendars permit. It does not automatically schedule
the incomplete portions of Tasks after the Status Date.
The FILE, Options, Schedule tab has an Auto scheduled tasks scheduled on:
option that may be set to either:
❖ Start on Current Date, or
❖ Start on Project Start Date.

❖ When set to start on Current Date, new tasks are created with an Early Start
Constraint set to the Current Date, which is set to the current date of the
computers operating system, e.g. today’s date.
❖ When set to start on Project Start Date, new tasks are created without a
constraint and all new tasks will schedule on the Project Start Date. This is
the recommended setting and new tasks will not be assigned a constraint
when created.
Recommended Schedule Options
It is best to keep a schedule as simple as possible. It is recommend that you
consider the following FILE, Schedule, Options as a good starting point if you
have limited experience in scheduling software.
If you ensure ALL PROJECTS ARE CLOSED before you start setting your
options then all changes that you make to the options will be applied to new
projects created using the FILE, New command which uses your Global.mpt
Note: Most of the other options are covered in this book but the options that must
be switched off to ensure the software operates in a predictable way are:
❖ Autolink inserted or moved tasks,
❖ Split in-progress tasks, and
❖ Tasks will always honor their constraint dates.1.9 Manually Scheduled and Auto Scheduled Tasks
The File, Options, Schedule, New tasks created: allows the selection of
Manually Scheduled or Auto Scheduled.
❖ The Manually Scheduled option (new to Microsoft Project 2010) overrides
the schedule calculations for tasks marked as Manually Scheduled, allowing
the software to be used like a white board for the selected tasks.
❖ It is normally considered good scheduling to select Auto Scheduled so tasks
will acknowledge the relationships and constraints.
❖ Therefore the File, Options, Schedule, New tasks created: should always
be set to Auto Scheduled.
If your schedule is behaving strangely or there is unfamiliar bar formatting, this
could be because some tasks have become Manually Scheduled. To fix this you
may either:
❖ Display the Task Mode column and search for Manually Scheduled tasks and
fix them in the column, or
❖ Click on the Select All button and then click on the
Auto Schedule
Note: Sometimes Microsoft Project will change a Task from Manually Scheduled
to Auto Scheduled without a warning and then the schedule will start behaving
strangely. So when a schedule does not reschedule correctly or there are some
strange looking bars you should apply the Manually Scheduled filter and change
any Manually Scheduled tasks to Auto Scheduled.
Sorting out the Menus
The grouping of the Ribbon commands is by software functions; such as Project,
Task etc. and not by scheduling functions such as creating or updating. Therefore
Users continually swap from one Ribbon menu to another while operating the
software. There are some actions you should consider changing on your menus to
make the software easier to use:
❖ Right click on the Ribbon toolbar to open a menu:

❖ The Quick Access Toolbar should be moved below the Ribbon Toolbar by
clicking on the Show Quick Access Toolbar Below the Ribbon. This option
allows more buttons to be displayed and the toolbar is not truncated by the
Project Name at the top of the screen.
❖ The Collapse the Ribbon… command hides the Ribbon Toolbar and just
leaves the menu displayed at the top, providing more screen space. This was
called Minimize the Ribbon in Microsoft Project 2010. Clicking on one of the
menu commands will display the Ribbon Toolbar.
❖ You should build your own Quick Access Toolbar by using the Customize
Quick Access Toolbar… option which opens the Project Options form
Quick Access Toolbar tab where buttons may be added to or removed from
or reordered on the Quick Access Toolbar.
❖ The Add to Quick Access Toolbar command will add a selected Ribbon
Toolbar button to the Quick Access Toolbar. By default the Quick Access
Toolbar is positioned at the top left-hand side of the screen and is always
Note: To do this all these changes in one hit you should consider downloading the
Eastwood Harris Quick Access toolbar from, Software &
Downloads page and import it from the FILE, Options, Quick Access toolbar,
Import/Export command.
Unfortunately Microsoft Project 2016 has placed large gapes between the buttons
on the Quick Access toolbar which make this function less useful as less
buttons are displayed on the Quick Access Toolbar:

Microsoft Project 2016

Microsoft Project 2013