Is it possible to show the secondary and/or tertiary critical path in Microsoft Project? The view menu has a way to filter to only those tasks without slack (i.e. the critical path), but is there a way to show more critical paths without artificially shortening something in the real critical path?


To Clarify based on the answers below, just increasing the slack threshold at which something is considered the critical path is not at all what I'm after for a couple of reasons.

  1. The secondary or tertiary critical path has some arbitrary amount of float to the primary critical path. So just changing this threshold would require tedious guess and check and could change whenever the schedule logic or status is updated.
  2. Changing this threshold would cause all three paths to be considered "the" critical path, with no obvious visual means of distinguishing them from each other.

3 Answers 3


The option "Calculate multiple critical paths" shows critical (Total Slack < 0) for all networked tasks without successors.

You may also add the Total Slack field to a view and apply filters for any amount of total slack you select.

  • I do have the gantt chart view set up to show free and total slack for each task, which helps. I also have multiple critical paths turned on, but since all my tasks have successors that only shows the critical path to program completion. Sounds like it may not be possible.
    – Adam Wuerl
    Oct 25, 2013 at 18:11
  • You could use a combination of Flag fields and custom bar styles to show tasks that are 'near' critical based upon what ever criteria you select (less than 3 days Total Slack for example). You may also modify the definition of critical (less than X value) in Options.
    – JulieS
    Oct 26, 2013 at 13:40

Sure there is. Temporarily apply a deadline date to the Project Complete milestone. Choose a date that is drastically far behind (maybe a year behind) the milestone's current finish date. This forces project to calculate a huge negative total float...let's say -250 days total float. Then sort your project by total float. (be sure to un-check the "keep outline structure" box in the sort pop-up window) Everything that is -250 total float (in this example) is your critical path. Since you sorted by total float, the secondary path would simple be the next chronological set of tasks which have just a bit more total float. Perhaps your secondary path would be -245 total float. All tasks showing -245 total float are the project's Secondary Critical Path (they have 5 more days of total float than the primary critical path has...using the sample/example numbers provided in this theoretical discussion. The Tertiary Critical path would simple be the next chronological set of tasks which have just a bit more total float. Perhaps your tertiary path would be -242 total float. All tasks showing -242 total float are the project's Tertiary Critical Path (they have 3 more days of total float than the Secondary critical path has...and 8 more days of total float than the Primary Critical path has. Use a code field of your choosing to tag all the primary critical path tasks with "1", Secondary tasks with "2", and Tertiary tasks with "3". Remove the temporary deadline date you applied (as described above). Create a filter the show your "1", "2", and "3" tasks. Either group or sort by the values, and the start/finish dates. There you go...you've identified your project's Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Critical Paths.

  • A hack, but a clever one. +1
    – Adam Wuerl
    Apr 30, 2015 at 3:51

Unfortunately, it is not possible in Project to distinguish multiple critical paths without artifically modifying durations (to highlight specific tasks on the critical path with that single task).

Having said that, it may be possible to script something up to handle those calculations for you programmatically, rather than having to do so by hand.

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