How to Make a WBS in Excel

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Whether you're attempting to schedule new hires on their first projects, manage an organizational merge or split up tasks for a long weekend with the family, trying to delegate, delineate and describe work to be done can be a job in and of itself. Take advantage of a feature in Microsoft Excel called SmartArt. Although somewhat hidden away on the ribbon, SmartArt offers a quick-add collection of hierarchical templates. Use this hierarchy to create a work breakdown structure, a trickle-down top-to-bottom list of what's to be done, how much of your resources it should take and the projected costs of the process.


Step 1

Start Excel. Click the "Insert" tab. Click the "SmartArt" button on the ribbon.

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Step 2

Click the "Hierarchy" link in the column on the left side of the "Choose a SmartArt Graphic." Choose the first option in the first row -- don't worry about the color representations in the right side preview pane now, as you can change that later. Click the "OK" button and the SmartArt is added to the Excel spreadsheet.


Step 3

Double-click the SmartArt border to open the "SmartArt Tools" tab at the top of the screen. Click the "Text Pane" button on the left side of the ribbon.

Step 4

Type the title of the WBS into the top textbox, such as "2012 Department Store Goals."


Step 5

Type the subhead into the text box below the top one, such as "Ladies' Fashions." Add additional text boxes if the SmartArt didn't come with enough by clicking the "Add Shape" button on the ribbon. If the text box doesn't fit into the hierarchy as planned, use the "Demote," "Promote," "Move Up" or "Move Down" buttons to fit it in. Add the rest of the subheads such as "Jewelry," "Kids" and "Men."


Step 6

Click into the next, bottom level of text boxes. Type the word "Work" or your preferred equivalent. Type how much of that subhead's area is a percentage of the total, then press the "Enter" key, type the word "Budget" and type the budget. For example, if 65 percent of the work in the department store will be performed by employees in the ladies' fashions area, with a budget of $40,000, you would type "Work: 65%, Budget, $40,000." Repeat so that each subhead has a work and budget associated with it.


Step 7

Click the "Change Colors" button on the ribbon. Choose a new color style, such as one that matches your organization or branding theme. This is optional.

Step 8

Hover the cursor over the items in the "Layouts" section of the ribbon. Without clicking, this is a way to see your work breakdown structure in another SmartArt pattern. To actually change the layout, click an item in this section of the ribbon. To undo and go back to your original layout, click the "Undo" button in the top-left corner of the screen.


Step 9

Click the "File" tab. Click "Save As." Type a name for the work breakdown structure spreadsheet file. Select a place to save the spreadsheet, such as the desktop, and click the "Save" button.