In Microsoft Project 2010 and 2013, the Data section of the View ribbon includes a button that many people overlook: the Outline pick list button shown in Figure 1. Using this button can save you a lot of time and frustration with expanding and collapsing the summary tasks in your project.

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Figure 1: Outline pick list button

When you click the Outline pick list button, Microsoft Project displays a menu of options that allow you to show or hide subtasks in selected summary sections, to display all summary tasks at a particular level of indenture, or to expand every summary task to display all tasks in the project, as shown in Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Outline menu choices

For example, suppose that you have a project in which you created summary tasks at the first level of indenture to display the Phases in your project (Outline Level 1) and you created summary tasks at the second level of indenture to display the Deliverable sections of your project (Outline Level 2). To quickly display only the Phases of your project, click the Outline pick list button and select the Level 1 item. Microsoft Project displays only the tasks at Outline Level 1. In the sample project shown in Figure 3, this includes three summary tasks and one milestone task.

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Figure 3: Phase level summary tasks

To display both the Phase and Deliverable sections of your project, click the Outline pick list button and select the Level 2 item. Microsoft Project displays all tasks at Outline Levels 1 and 2. In the sample project shown in Figure 4, this includes three summary tasks at Outline Level 1 (the Phase sections), four summary tasks at Outline Level 2 (the Deliverable sections), plus one milestone task.

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Figure 4: Deliverable level summary tasks

To quickly expand every summary task in your project to display every task, click the Outline pick list button and select the All Subtasks item.

 A version of this article originally appeared on the Sensei Project Solutions blog.