Ask the Teacher: Setting Recurring Non-working Time in Project

A user asks: “I am fairly new to Microsoft Project. Is there a tool or resource out there that lists standard US holidays for the next 10 years as formulas that I can plug into Project? (For example, Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday in November; Memorial Day is the last Monday in May…)

Along those same lines, what’s the best way to have Project note that the Friday after Thanksgiving as a standing holiday too?

Answer: Regarding the standard list of US holidays, here you go, courtesy of Wikipedia:

New Year’s Day                                              January 1
Birthday of Martin Luther King              3rd Monday in January
President’s Day                                              3rd Monday in February
Memorial Day                                                Last Monday in May
Independence Day                                      July 4
Labor Day                                                       1st Monday in September
Veterans Day                                                 November 11
Thanksgiving Day                                        4th Thursday in November
Christmas Day                                               December 25

Regarding plugging holidays into Project, the answer is “Yes” but only for Microsoft Project 2007 users. What you are asking about is a feature that was added to the 2007 version of the software. In 2003 and prior versions, you must click through the calendar and mark each day individually as non-working. In the 2007 version, the developers allowed for recurring non-working time. The option looks much like the recurring appointment function you find in Outlook. Here’s how it works.

First, go to Tools | Change Working Time.

Figure 1: the Change Working Time screen.

Ask the Teacher: Setting Recurring Non-working Time in Project

In the Exceptions area I have entered “Thanksgiving”. and in the start and finish area I have entered the date of this year’s Thanksgiving. I am also ending the holiday on Friday because you are considering Friday a non-working day also. After this entry, select the Details button on the right. The Details for ‘Thanksgiving’ form will appear, as shown in Figure 2.

In the Details form, click on “Yearly”, click on the second option to say when the reoccurrence should start and change the number of reoccurrences to be 10 (or as many years as you need).

Figure 2: The Details page.

Ask the Teacher: Setting Recurring Non-working Time in Project

Click on OK and you are good to go. Repeat for as many holidays as necessary.

Note: The calendar you just completed is “living” in the project you created it in. To allow the calendar to be available to all of your other projects (so you don’t have to recreate it for each one), copy it through the Organizer to your Global.mpt template.

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Written by Ellen Lehnert
Ellen Lehnert, PMP, Microsoft Project MVP, MCP, is a independent consultant and trainer on Microsoft Project and Project Server. She has taught Microsoft Project over 400 times and is the author of  MS Project 2010 and 2013 published courseware. Ellen is also a contributor and tech editor for many reference books, a developer for the Microsoft Project certification tests and is a frequent meeting speaker for Microsoft, MPUG and PMI. Contact Ellen at

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