How to Set Task Duration in Project 2013

By Cynthia Snyder Stackpole

Most tasks in Project 2013 (except milestones) have a duration, whether it’s ten minutes or a year or another span of time. The needs of your project and the degree of control you require determine how finely you break down your tasks.

If your project is to launch a satellite, for example, tracking the task duration by minutes on launch day makes sense. In most other circumstances, tracking the duration by days (or weeks, sometimes) is sufficient.

As with all task information, you can enter the duration in a Gantt Chart sheet or in the Task Information dialog box. Follow these steps to enter the duration in the dialog box:

  1. Double-click a task to display the Task Information dialog box.

  2. If necessary, click the General tab to display it.

  3. In the Duration box, use the spinner arrows to increase or decrease the duration.

    Task information box in Project 2013.

  4. If the current duration units aren’t appropriate (for example, days when you want hours), type a new duration in the Duration box.

    A new task is created with an estimated duration of one day unless you change the duration. You can use these abbreviations for various time units:

    • m: Minute

    • h: Hour

    • d: Day

    • wk: Week

    • mo: Month

    Don’t assume that changing the start and finish dates of a task changes its duration; it doesn’t. You have to manually change the duration. If you don’t, your project plan won’t be what you intended.

  5. Click the OK button to accept the duration setting.

If you’re unsure about the timing of a particular task, select the Estimated check box (on the General tab) when you enter the duration. This strategy alerts people to your lack of certainty. You can always go back and uncheck the box when you have better information.