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Microsoft Project Quick Tips: Using the Outline Button

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.

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7 Comments
  1. Wrong info!!!

    What you have shown at Level – 1 is actually at Level – 2. What you have shown at Level – 2 is actually Level -3. Can be checked with the steps you have given.

    Better confirmation –> add a custom WBS code and see which falls under Level 1, 2 and 3.

    Reply
  2. Right info!!!

    The author of this post is correct; Som is incorrect. What Som supposes is level one is the project summary task. The project summary task is task number 0, at outline level 0.

    Adding the Outline Level field would offer direct confirmation (better than the custom WBS Som proposes) and it would confirm that the author is correct.

    Reply
  3. Never go to a project “shoot out” with Dale.

    Reply
  4. Can we take this one step further – Is there a way to just colapse a section? What I run into is that I may expand all subtasks for a PDF print or something like that then may want to collapse just one section (one sumamry task) to its first level of summary tasks – not the whole project, just that one section. What I have to do at this point is go down the schedule and individually collapse every “sub-summary” to get the view I want.

    Reply
  5. Similar question here as Bob: how dow I expand just one level of a specified summarytask? Obviously, Project remembers, whet levels were expanded/collapsed. If I expand a summary task, the structure underneath is shown in the same way as when I had closed the summary task.

    Reply
  6. need a bit of help
    My level summaries have disappeared
    The outline dropdown is in neutral i.e. no option to select.
    the unique task numbering is counting 2,3,5,6,7,9 – 1 4 and 8 are level summaries so the unique task number is missing for the level summaries
    Regards
    Rod

    Reply
  7. Can we set the outline level by default? Opening a template as part of EPT always opens to show all. Would be nice to default to level 1.

    Reply

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