What is Gantt?

Gantt usually refers to a type of project planning and management diagram called a "Gantt chart." It was named after Henry L. Gantt, a mechanical engineer with a storied career from the late 1800s through the early 1900s.

A Gantt chart displays a project schedule in a table that includes a timeline in bar chart format. Here's an example of a Gantt chart. You can see more Gantt chart examples here.

Gantt chart

While Gantt charts are similar to timelines in that both diagram types deal with time and events, the format and purpose of a Gantt chart are quite different.

Purpose of a Gantt Chart

A Gantt chart is used to present the phases and activities of a project in a visual format that is easy to read and is universally understandable.

Most projects begin with an appropriate breakdown of the specific elements of work required for a project to be completed into individual tasks. A common way to do this is with a mind map. The mind map allows a project manager, alone or in team collaboration, to develop a project plan by breaking down categories into tasks, and then breaking those into sub-tasks. Modern Gantt chart software allows the project planner to convert mind maps to Gantt charts, or vice versa, very easily.

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Gantt Chart Format

The Gantt chart structure displays these tasks in a table, with one task per row. These tasks are grouped under the larger categories, such as "Distribute" and "Advertise," using the example above.

Additional columns provide more information, such as to whom the task is assigned and time schedules. The units of time chosen may vary depending upon overall project duration. Time units may be as specific as hours and days, or they might be as expansive as weeks, months, quarters, or even years.

These timeline bars provide a number of data points at a glance, such as:

  1. the beginning and end points of each task;
  2. the progress status of the task (percentage of the task completed);
  3. dependencies (in which a task is dependent upon the start or completion of another); and
  4. milestones (a specific checkpoint or point of completion of a project).


Using Gantt chart software which includes a dependencies capability allows for the creation of a graphical representation of the true critical path of the project with lines and links to the predecessor and successor tasks.

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