I built a simple burn down chart with Google Spreadsheet, as shown below.

enter image description here

The project consists of 99 tasks. And the user finished 5 tasks on the first day. So the "Actual Tasks Remaining" point is below the "Ideal Tasks Remaining" point on the first day, which is different from the burn down chart shown in the Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burn_down_chart.

I'm wondering whether I should add a date before the first date so that the "Actual Tasks Remaining" point will overlap the "Ideal Tasks Remaining" point on the first day.

  • 1
    The only problem I see is that you think it's a problem. It could suggest you don't really understand its role and focus on an entirely wrong set of (non-)problems - it's the tasks not finished, the red line deviating definitely up, and reasons behind it that should worry you.
    – SF.
    Jul 11, 2011 at 12:43

3 Answers 3


First, I don't think it's a big deal. Burndown charts are meant to establish a trend line, and so it only matters after the first few days of the sprint at which point the first day won't really matter.

However, your chart isn't really correct, is it? By having the expected value be 99 after day one, you're lying and saying that no progress is expected on the first day. Whether you fix this by adding a "Day 0" or by correcting your ideal progress column formula is probably not important.

  • but day 1 is used up in creating the burn down chart! :)
    – Darknight
    Jul 11, 2011 at 9:08
  • I prefer the "day 0" way; it's easier (for me) to explain that "before we start, we have 100 tasks. The first day, we got 5 done." It all comes down to what people prefer, though - to see that a dot indicates what's left to do at the beginning of the day or at the end of the day. The trend's the important thing; fine grained detail not so much (until you reach those last few hours' work, by which point you probably know what's left).
    – StevenV
    Aug 16, 2011 at 12:24

No need to add extra day. the point is not to make the chart look like some example, but to get useful information about how much work remains in the sprint, and at what rate work is getting done in the sprint. Some sprints your chart may look like wikipedia's if no task gets fully completed on the first day.


As long as you are consistent throughout all of the burn-down charts throughout the project, I don't think that it really matters. The key should be that you can look through all of the burn-down charts for the project and determine your velocity throughout and between sprints.

My personal preference would be to show them starting at the same point and updating the chart with elapsed time, similar to the one on Wikipedia. After 0 days, you have completed 0 story points and have n story points remaining. At the end of every work day, you update the graph to reflect how many story points you completed in that day. I just think that this is cleaner, but it is just a personal preference and I would adapt to a team-chosen standard.


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