In Excel I can make a chart like this very easily using the formula =SUM($X$Y:XY) where X is the starting Letter of the column on the left and Y is the starting number of the column on the left. The column on the right shows the cumulative numbers of all the values on the left.

However I can't figure out how to make this work in microsoft projects as the formulas are all different. So far all i've found on this subject is https://www.computergaga.com/blog/sum-the-total-duration-for-tasks-in-ms-project/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wotf8BHyhOE which only sum the total values of the projects at the very end.

edit: https://microsoft.public.project.narkive.com/WlM7vhTw/how-do-i-create-a-cumulative-work-column-in-project this website seems to have a formula that works but I can't seem to implement it and it was 17 years ago

2 Answers 2


The big difference between formulas in Excel and custom field formulas in Project is that an Excel formula can reference any cell on the worksheet, or any other worksheet, but in Project a custom field formula can only operate on data for a task row.

You can sum up or average values for summary rows but you won't be able to do a running total, at least not with a custom field formula. You could do it with a simple macro though.

  • What about this website microsoft.public.project.narkive.com/WlM7vhTw/… They seemed to have a formula working but it seems overly complicated and was also 17 years ago.
    – Michael Li
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 14:42
  • Michael Li, the link you cite is from a user's post to the old Project forum wherein Julie, Jan and myself (I'm the "John") responded. As I indicated above, what you want can be done with VBA but not with a custom field formula. Commented Aug 18, 2023 at 14:58
  • Oh you are John? Thanks for your help. I think I can just manually enter in the numbers in excel and make a cumulative formula there before putting the values into the microsoft project file. This way I can manually bypass this cumulative restriction, since as you stated in another comment microsoft project's custom fields are not very flexible. Thanks again.
    – Michael Li
    Commented Aug 24, 2023 at 16:22
  • Michael Li, You're welcome and thanks for the feedback. Commented Aug 25, 2023 at 18:22

MS Project does not support formulas. But I've started using SmartSheet recently and in SmartSheet you can use Excel-Like formulas on your project, and still see it as a Gantt chart. I like SmartSheet because it's the best of 3 worlds: Excel ("grid view"), Project ("Gantt View") and Jira ("Card View") + another one I haven't used too much: a calendar view. If you really need formulas (I did, like for costs, etc.) you can try SmartSheet.

But beware, I'd say it's good for small projects, small spreadsheets, etc, but it's not as powerful, feature-rich as Excel or MS-Project. For example Smartsheet can manage tasks' date, duration, and many fields, but not hours!

  • This can be a comment, rather than an answer. Commented Aug 18, 2023 at 4:48
  • Macheal Hay, MS Project DOES support custom field formulas. They are not as flexible as formulas in Excel but they can enhance the functionality of the basic app. Commented Aug 18, 2023 at 15:01

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