Outline and summarize tasks


I'm new to Milestones and want to learn all there is to know about outlining and summarizing my project tasks


Outlining is useful for organizing parts of a schedule. It’s best to outline a schedule with enough levels so each task level has a clear, definable item of work that can be identified, budgeted, assigned, and tracked. Summary bars are shown automatically for lower level tasks. Once a schedule is outlined, use the roll-up feature to present different levels of schedule complexity to various audiences.Costs, budgets and other numerical values associated with lower-level tasks can automatically roll-up (sum) to each upper outline level. See: Tutorial Lesson 6 - Outline a schedule





Add an outline level SmartColumn

  1. Choose Insert | Rows, Columns | New Column | Outline Level.

Indent or outdent a task

  1. Change the number in the Outline Level Smartcolumn.  


  1. With   click within the column area to select a task.
  2. Use the arrows to indent / outdent: 

Set the indentation amount for outline levels

  1. Select the column whose entries should be indented based on outline level.

  2. In the Column Type and Format section, enter an indent amount (.2 is an effective outline indention) under to Indent per Outline Level.

  3. Click to apply the indent to the column.

Collapse (roll-up) and expand tasks

Milestones Professional schedules can be outlined using an easy to manage indenting capability. Main steps are typically at outline level 1. The steps immediately under the level 1 steps are outline level 2. Up to 20 outline levels are supported.  In an outlined schedule, task rows can be expanded (shown) or collapsed (rolled up and hidden) using collapse/expand indicators, the right-click menu, or the filter option. Using the collapse/expand indicators or an option on the right-click menu, roll-up and expand of tasks is easy.

Use Collapse/Expand Indicators to hide/show lower level tasks:

  1. Choose View | Optional Items | Collapse/Expand Indicators. Collapse/Expand indicators () will appear to the left of the schedule area.

    • The expand indicator () appears when there are hidden lower level tasks which can be expanded (shown).

    • The collapse indicator ( ) appears when lower level tasks are visible and can be collapsed (hidden).

    • Task rows without lower level tasks will not display either indicator.

  2. To collapse (roll-up) lower level tasks, click .

  3. To expand, click .

 To change the color, size and shape of the collapse/expand indicators, go to Tools | Program Options | General.  Change the color next to Roll-up triangle color, pick a shape and pick a size.

Collapse/Expand indicators:

The Collapse/Expand icons are only shown on task rows which can be collapsed or expanded. That is, task rows without lower-level detail will not display the collapse/expand icons.


Right-click to collapse/expand lower level tasks:

Collapse/expand a single outlined section:

  1. Right-click the task row whose lower level task rows to collapse (roll-up) or expand.

  2. Choose Collapse (or Expand) Selected Task Row.

Collapse all tasks to a specified outline level:

  1. Right-click the task row whose lower level task rows to collapse (roll-up) or expand.

  2. Choose Collapse All Tasks to Selected Level.

Filter tasks to a specified outline level

  1. Choose Tools | Filter | Filter Task Rows.

  2. Optionally, check Only examine currently visible tasks if hidden tasks should remain hidden.

  3. Choose Outline Level from the selection list.

  4. In the Outline Level Filter Selection dialog box, choose the lowest outline level that should appear.

 Expand all tasks by choosing the right-click menu Show All Task Rows.

Shade based on outline level

Outline level shading can help make a schedule more presentable.  It's easy to set up and when the automatically apply option is on, the task shading will take effect as the schedule is changed. 

Customize the task row background shading, column text, horizontal grid lines, and summary bar settings for any of the 20 outline levels. Each outline level can have its own settings. These settings will override the schedule's default settings.


Add outline level shading

  1. Choose Format | Gridlines | Gridlines, Shading, Font Sizes by Outline Level.

  2. Select the Outline Level for task shading settings.

  3. To have choices apply to all column areas and the schedule area, Apply New Grid/Shade Selections to all Three Sections.

  4. Under the Shading tab, place a check-mark next to Shade the Task Rows for each section for which shading should be shown.

  5. Click the Change button for Left Columns, Graph/Schedule Area, and Right Columns.  Choose a color.

  6. For Effects Target Color, click the Change button for Left Columns, Graph/Schedule Area, and Right Columns.  Choose a color.

  7. For Special Effects, choose a fade effect for Left Columns, Graph/Schedule Area, and Right Columns.

  8. To have new task rows and edited task rows follow these same settings automatically, Automatically Apply Outline level properties while editing schedule.

  9. Continue formatting with the gridlines, column text and summary bar settings for this outline level.

Choose the default symbols and bar for summary bars:

This setting is the default summary bar symbology display.

  1. Choose Layout | Other | Summary Bar Settings...

  2. Choose the Starting Symbol, Bar, and Ending Symbol to be displayed on summary rows.

  • Show summary duration in calendar time to force this option duration to be calculated based on the total time span for the lower level projects, instead of adding up each individual duration for lower level project steps.

  •  Summary bars ignore fill to status setting to force summary bars to be filled. 
  •  Summary bars always fill to current date to force summary bars to be filled to the current date line. 
  •  Hide dates  or  Hide text to keep too much text from cluttering up the summary bars.  
  • For When to draw, choose Never, Only when rolled up or Always.
  •  Split summary bars using Lower Level symbols/bars to show lower level symbols/bars on the summary level. 
  •  Compute Rolled-up values for Value/Calc SmartColumns to have Milestones summarize values.



Summary row calculations

For Calculation/Indicator SmartColumns, calculations on summary rows can be turned-off.  The result is a roll-up of lower-level values.

To not perform calculations on summary rows:
  1. Select the Calculation/Indicator SmartColumn.

  2. In the Column Type and Format section, click the Properties button.

  3. Do not do calculation on Summary Rows and the values will roll-up (add up) from lower levels to upper levels instead of being calculated.

Override a selected task's summary bar color

This setting overrides the summary bar's fill color for the selected task row. Set the normal and baseline bar colors separately.

  1. Click once on the summary row in the column area.  This will display the Selection menu.

  2. In the Summary Bar Color section, next to Summary Bar Color Override, select a color for the horizontal bar.

  3. Next to Baseline Summary Bar Color Override, select a color for the baseline horizontal bar.

Roll-up (collapse) tasks to summary bar

Tasks can be collapsed or expanded easily.  One way is to use the roll-up indicator in the column. 

Turn on collapse/expand indicators.

Roll-up of lower level symbols and bars

Normally, summary bars display a time span reflecting the first start date and the last end date of the underlying project steps.

It's possible to cause all of the lower level symbols and bars to be displayed on the summary bar.

  1. From the menu, choose Layout | Other | Summary Bar Settings...

  2.  Split Summary Bars using Lower Level Symbols/Bars.

Display a specified symbol on a summary task row

Individual symbols which appear on sub-task rows can be displayed on summary task rows. Choose to display the symbol on all summary levels or on a specified summary level.

In the example below, Task A2's symbol is "rolled-up" to outline level 1.



Display a specific symbol on all summary rows:

  1. Click .
  2. Click once on the symbol. This displays the Selection menu.
  3. In the Summary tab, choose Include this Symbol on all Summary Bar levels.

Display a specific symbol on specific summary level(s):

  1. Click .
  2. Click once on the symbol. This displays the Selection menu.
  3. In the Summary tab, choose Include this Symbol on this Summary Bar level.
  4. Choose the summary level that "this Summary Bar level" refers to: .
  5. In the example above, the selected symbol will appear on the parent task row at outline level 1.


Hide the date in summary row date columns

Summary level dates in the Status Date SmartColumn can be hidden. The computed summary status date is the date closest to the place where the summary bar is filled in to show a percent complete. If this date has no meaning, it might be desirable to the summary status date.

  1. Choose Layout | Other | Summary Bar Settings...

  2. Exclude Computed Status Dates in Summary Rows.

Symbols on summary levels may have dates or symbol text to hide. If summary task rows display single summary bars, use the first method below. If summary task rows display Split Summary Bars using Lower Level Symbols, use the second method below.

Hide dates shown on start and end symbols

  1. In the toolbox, find the symbols used for the summary bars.

  2. Double-click on one of the symbols.

  3. Choose the Text and Date Properties tab.

  4. Under Date Placement, choose Hide.

  5. Repeat for the other summary bar symbol.

Hide dates and/or text for "Split summary bars" setting:

When lower level symbols and bars are rolled-up to summary levels, it's possible to hide the symbol dates or symbol text on the summary level using this method:

  1. Choose Layout | Other | Summary Bar Settings...

  2. Hide Dates on Rolled up Symbols.

  3. Hide Text on Rolled up Symbols.

This also works for individual symbols which are rolled-up.


Symbols on summary rows move automatically when symbols on lower level task rows move. They are drawn automatically based on the dates in the lower level tasks. Therefore, they cannot be selected or moved independently.   Summary row settings can be changed in Layout | Other | Summary Bar Settings.  The above is true if When to Draw is on Always or Only When Rolled Up, as Milestones is drawing the summary symbols automatically.  If Never is chosen then summary bars can be added manually.