How To: Calculate Costs in Microsoft Project

This post will illustrate how to calculate costs in Microsoft Project.  As you will see below, each tasks has a total cost and an actual cost.  The actual cost are those costs that have actually been incurred during the execution of the project.

Costs in Microsoft Project and Standard Time® are very different.  Each task in Microsoft Project may have an arbitrary dollar value.  We’ll assign some below to demonstrate.  This is not true of Standard Time®.  Standard Time calculates task costs by multiplying hours times rates.  (C = H * R)  There are various rates a project may have, but the formula is always true.  Microsoft Project is different.  Follow the steps below to calculate costs in MSP.

Create some tasks:

  1. Add a task named “Task 1”
  2. Add a task named “Task 2”
  3. Set the Duration to 100h and 40h respectively
  4. Remove all columns by the Duration column (right-click and choose Hide Column)


The results look like this:


Insert the following columns:

  1. Cost
  2. Actual Work
  3. % Complete
  4. Actual Cost


The results will look like this:

Microsoft Project Cost Fields


Experiment with the Duration, Cost, and Actual Work fields, and you will see updates costs values.  The image below illustrates this.

Updated Microsoft Project Cost Values