How to Make a Schedule in Excel

By Tyson Cliffton

The ability to customize Microsoft Excel makes it a powerful tool for creating schedules for any purpose. The application has templates for a variety of schedule types built into it, as well as a wealth of number formats and formulas that can let you create a schedule fairly quickly that can require very little maintenance.

Schedule Templates

Microsoft Excel has a wide variety of scheduling templates built into it, so you may not need to create your own schedule from scratch. Clicking "File" and then "New" brings up a list of available templates. In the list of Office.com templates, the Schedules group contains templates for an array of academic and business purposes.

Time Calculation

A number of options are available that make it possible to automate adding up the total number of hours spent working on an individual task, the time it will take to complete an entire project, or the hours an employee is projected to work in a week. You can designate the type of formatting that should be applied to each cell (e.g., hours, minutes, seconds, date and time, percentages, fractions and more) in the Number part of the Home menu on the Ribbon toolbar. After designating how your numbers should be formatted, you can apply a formula that will automate any calculations you need to take place around those numbers. Formulas can be accessed through the Formulas tab on the Ribbon toolbar.

Freeze Panes

The Freeze Panes feature in Microsoft Excel lets you designate what cells will be horizontally and vertically locked in place while the rest of the document can still be navigated. You can manually set which panes to freeze; select the cell above which you want to freeze everything above that cell when you scroll vertically, or everything from that cell to the left when scrolling horizontally. Alternatively, you can opt to freeze just the top row or just the first column. Options for freezing panes are available in the View section on the Ribbon toolbar.

Copy Formulas

Often, a formula you build for one column applies to other columns in your schedule. You can copy the formula by highlighting an existing cell and pressing "Ctrl-C." Highlight the cells to which you want to copy that formula and then press "Ctrl-V." However, note that if the cell range for the cell you're copying to is greater than the cell range of the original formula, you'll need to modify the cell range of the formula you copied.