Have you ever created a new view and customized it the way you wanted, only to find out that other similar views are also changed? Do you want a certain format to copy for your status report but currently have to recreate it every time? Views are a core feature of Microsoft Project, but creating a view from scratch can be tricky. I’ve written this article to supply you with the easy steps for creating and managing custom views in Microsoft Project 2007. Then I’ll show you how Microsoft has combined those steps into one simple “easy button” in Project 2010.

Custom Views in Microsoft Project 2007

Most views are associated with a table. Exceptions are views such as the calendar, network diagram, or Resource Gantt. The table primarily contains the column names and format. Tables can be associated with multiple views, which is why it’s best to make sure your view is associated to its own table.

The view describes how the table should be displayed. It indicates whether you want a plain table of columns (Task Sheet), want to associate the table with a Gantt pane (Gantt chart), or want to associate it with a time-phased pane (Task Usage).

Views and their associated tables also determine whether the view contains task or resource information (Task Sheet vs. Resource Sheet).

Microsoft Project View Mastery

Here are the steps to create a simple custom view containing project work status information.

1. Find a view that has the general format you want. Dont worry that the view contains different columns. The key is to find the format you’re looking for. Remember that not all views are available from the dropdown menu, so you might want to go to View | More Views… to choose the view you want. In our example we want a simple list of task columns with no right side pane. (That would be the Task Sheet.)

Microsoft Project View Mastery

2. We’ll now copy the table associated with the Task Sheet to a new table. While viewing the Task Sheet view, select View | Table: Entry | More Tables… to go to the list of tables.

3. At this point the current table (the table you want to copy — Entry) is already selected. Select the Copy button and enter a name for the new table. In this case I’ll create the LC Work Review table.

Tip #1! You may want to identify all of your custom tables and views so that you’ll recognize them later. In this example I’m using LC.

Now select OK and then Close to exit the table dialog box.

Table create:

Microsoft Project View Mastery

4. We’re now ready to create the view. Back at the Task Sheet, select the View | More Views… option. The Task Sheet view is already selected. Select the Copy button and enter the name for the new view. My view will be named the same as the table (which is Tip #2!): LC Work Review. Before you select OK, you need to choose the new table that you just created in the Table dropdown (a critical step).

Tip #3! One last item for this view is to make sure it always shows in the Menu dropdown by selecting the Show in Menu checkbox.

Now select OK and then Close (or Apply to go directly to your new view).

View create:

Microsoft Project View Mastery

You’re now ready to modify your view how you want. I’m going to remove the existing columns and create my own columns to reflect my work review status. Once this is completed, the columns and formatting of the view will persist the next time you access LC Work Review.

Microsoft Project View Mastery

There’s a lot more you can do with views and tables if you take a closer look; but this process will certainly get you started. Some of what you can do includes:

  • Unlocking the first column (usually the ID column) so that you can remove it from your view.
  • Showing the table in the table list menu.
  • Including a filter in your view and optionally highlighting the filter items.
  • Grouping your tasks (lots of cool options in combination with Project options).

Custom Views in Microsoft Project 2010

If you’ve had a chance to try out Microsoft Project 2010, my guess is that you’re either still trying to work with it or telling yourself that you wont give it back. The product has changed a lot between versions 2007 and 2010, and one of the many sweet features is a single Easy View button. Here’s how it works.

I’m going to use the same example as before by creating a view that originates from the format of the Task Sheet view.

I’ll assume that by now you know how to use the ribbon in Project 2010. But what’s interesting is that the steps for accessing a view from the Task or Resource tab are actually easier than from the View tab (go figure). Simply drop down and select the Task Sheet view as the view you want to use to create a new view. My example uses the Task tab.

Microsoft Project View Mastery

Once you have the Task View showing, select the View dropdown, select Save View, and enter your new view name (in this case, the same as before — LC Work Review). No blinking. That’s it.

Microsoft Project View Mastery

Now for something really cool. In Project 2007 you really wanted to create the new view first, because otherwise you ended up with two views that looked the same. Human nature tends to wait until you like the view before you decide to do something about it. In Project 2010 the developers allow you to make that decision anytime you want.

If you ended up with a Task Sheet view you wish looked like it used to, you can now do that in one easy step as well.To reset any of the default views (actually any view that you have as a global view) back to its original format, you simply select the View dropdown and the “Reset to Default” option.

Now that was easy!