Project 2010: Introducing Millions of Colors

image While Shakespeare said “Truth needs no colour”, we decided this wasn’t true for Project 2010. With Project 2010, no longer are you limited to 16 colors. We now support 32-bit color which simply put means you have millions of colors to choose between. How many million you ask – 16,777,216 colors. The human eye can only distinguish roughly 7-10 million colors so you’ll have to trust us on that number. Just know that orange, citrine, ultramarine blue, hot pink, etc. are all possible now.


With this functionality we have updated the look of all of the visual elements in Project 2010 but we image have also made it easier for you to update the look of various elements. For example, to set the look of a Gantt bar, just right-click it and select the Bar Color command on the mini toolbar. The same is true for cells in the sheets, and bars in both the Timeline and Team Planner views.




Project 2007 image
Project 2010 image
Project 2010 + Customization image(Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should)

Additionally, we’ve added a gallery with several new Gantt chart styles to choose from:


With a simple click of the image you like, these take your Gantt chart from this:


To this:


Or this:


Or even this:


Additionally, we’ve considered the scenario where you are in a team meeting presenting your plan and no one is listening since they’re just trying to figure out why their task is light orange and someone else’s is dark orange. This is because some tasks are auto scheduled and some are manually scheduled (the ones with the black brackets on the ends are manually scheduled – for more info see this post). Well, your team members don’t need to know this so to simplify your meetings, you can apply a presentation style. Then auto scheduled and manually scheduled tasks will have the same look.


Note, if you are using the new colors and saving to Project 2007 or 2003 format, Project will map the millions of possible colors to the 16 ones that are available in those versions so the results may not be what you expected.

Comments (14)

  1. Feda Hankic says:

    I was hoping to see some more versatility with Gantt Chart Styles. Color changes are pretty lackluster. Few different bar styles would have been much better.

    Examples: 3D Style, Flat Style, Outline Only Style, surprise us with something creative …

  2. Thanks for the suggestion Feda.

  3. Tartocitron says:

    Good thing for colours. But as Feda said, customizing the bars/milestones with more options will be a big improvement. It is not always easy to find an efficient way with the present possibilities

    way to show on the line : actual start/finish, baselines, constraints, …. with the present possibilities

  4. danmeindertsma says:

    I have been trying to download the 60-day trial of Microsoft Project for 5 days, but get the following error: "The site is currently experiencing technical difficulties, please check back in the next business day."

    Can someone on the project team please help me get a trial?

    Thank you

  5. The colors are great but I always caution my students and clients that:

    No one knows what all of the colors mean except the person who creates the formatting.

    Too much coloring can be confusing

    When projects are published to MS Project Server, the formatting does not appear through the web application.

    Use the colors but make them meaningful not just pretty. I recently received a schedule that had many different colors applied.  When I asked what they represented I was told nothing in particular.  They became a distraction.  

  6. HyderZaidi says:

    Task Baselines:

       Is there any way available in 2010, to find out which baseline number [from 0 to 10] is set on task. I know, it is not possible in any version prior to 2010 but not sure that either it is available in 2010 or not. That’s one of the biggest application architecture wise issue i have seen int this product.


       Another issue which I am not sure how 2010 cope up, is there any flexibility available to un-lock few individual(s) timesheet period or not.

  7. For Baselines, do you mean if the baseline has been set at the project level or for the specific task?

    At the project level, this sql query can check for that –

    — test for project baselines

    — pmc 042610

    — Returns a grid, line per project, col per baseline with 1 indicating baseline usage

    select proj.ProjectName

          ,case isnull(proj.ProjectBaseline0Duration,-1) when -1 then 0 else 1 end as N’0′

          ,case isnull(proj.ProjectBaseline1Duration,-1) when -1 then 0 else 1 end as N’1′

          ,case isnull(proj.ProjectBaseline2Duration,-1) when -1 then 0 else 1 end as N’2′

          ,case isnull(proj.ProjectBaseline3Duration,-1) when -1 then 0 else 1 end as N’3′

          ,case isnull(proj.ProjectBaseline4Duration,-1) when -1 then 0 else 1 end as N’4′

          ,case isnull(proj.ProjectBaseline5Duration,-1) when -1 then 0 else 1 end as N’5′

          ,case isnull(proj.ProjectBaseline6Duration,-1) when -1 then 0 else 1 end as N’6′

          ,case isnull(proj.ProjectBaseline7Duration,-1) when -1 then 0 else 1 end as N’7′

          ,case isnull(proj.ProjectBaseline8Duration,-1) when -1 then 0 else 1 end as N’8′

          ,case isnull(proj.ProjectBaseline9Duration,-1) when -1 then 0 else 1 end as N’9′

          ,case isnull(proj.ProjectBaseline10Duration,-1) when -1 then 0 else 1 end as N’10’

    from dbo.MSP_EpmProject_userview as proj


    The period open/close setting is a global setting but you could use the timesheet events to do more sophisticated schemes. See this site for more info

  8. Chris says:

    I’ve been having issues with the Beta version – after creating complex plans (Say 1000 tasks +) the formatting is lost (everything reverts to default font, colors…) when attempt to format another row.

    I use colors to highlight workpackages in the project and sub workpackages…

    Has this issue been raised anywhere – havent been able to find it…

  9. Project only supports a maximum number of 6400 separate custom formats. It is possible that you are hitting this number. To avoid this limit, don’t format continuous cells individually; instead, select the entire range of continuous cells and format them as one group. This will help you avoid the max limit.

  10. John Aliss says:

    It appears that I have hit the 6400 separate custom format limit.  As soon as I attempt to format a further cell the schedule loses all formatting, reverting back to defaults. This is not a limitation I expect to find in a professional scheduling tool.

  11. Rachel B. says:

    How come the Live Preview doesn't work for the Gantt Chart Styles as it does for the various Galleries in Word or PowerPoint? Also, why no ScreenTips on each of the styles to help differentiate why one is different from another?

    thank you.

  12. Wilf says:

    I'm also having trouble with losing my formatting, but I've no idea why.  I'm only formatting one column; I'm formatting all the cells in one click; and I have nowhere near 6400 tasks on my plan.

    I have inherited this plan from a previous user; there may be formatting in a column I cannot see.

    How can I easily un-format the entire plan?

  13. To remove formatting, you can click on the box in the top left corner of the sheet (this selects everything) and then on the Task tab – Editing group, click Clear – Clear Formatting.

    Also, I've found that it sometimes works better to select the specific cells when applying formatting instead of clicking the column header.

  14. Wilf says:

    This function is very buggy.

    Colour-coding is essential to me, as I use it to highlight late-running tasks and tasks which only have provisional dates.

    Selected a block of tasks on my plan this morning (after having cleared all the formatting as per the above instruction) to colour red.  Clicked on the font colour button.  Some of the tasks turned red, some of them turned blue, but most were unchanged.

    It seems to me that introducing the new colours has also introduced a major instability; I never had any such problem on previous versions.

    Would welcome any advice as to how I can get this essential feature to work properly.

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