Make dateless timelines in PowerPoint

We get a lot of requests for guidance on creating dateless timelines in PowerPoint. These are usually project charts or event timelines that do not yet have specific dates determined (e.g. start date, milestone dates), and they are most often used to illustrate a project in concept phase or to provide a project template. For example pitching an idea to sponsors where the start date will be determined once the project charter has been funded, or – as shown in the illustration below - modeling a possible itinerary out. To build a dateless timeline in PowerPoint, open the Office Timeline Plus add-in and:

1.  Set up a project schedule entering fictitious but relative dates for your project. For example, I used 9/1/2018 – 9/5/2018 for the 5-day task called Ezulwini. I did this schedule in Excel and then pasted it into Office Timeline. You can also do this without Excel, right from the Data Entry Wizard in Office Timeline.

Project schedule sample

2.  Once the add-in has generated your graphic, select your timeband and then go to the Timeline Scale section of the Style Pane on the right. Here you need to change the timeline’s interval to Days or Weeks, which are dateless.

Make Timeband dateless

3.  Now select any milestone date on your timeline and, from the Style Pane, click on the green toggle button visible on the right to make that date invisible. Then, to apply this change to all milestones, click on the down arrow next to Apply to All and select Visibility from the menu.

Hide Milestone Date

Repeat these same steps for your task dates to make them invisible too. Finally, you can also use the Style Pane to turn on Task Duration, which will display a count (days or weeks) for each of your project's tasks. The timeline ends up looking like this:

Final Timeline Sample



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Building Historical Timelines

To build a historical timeline slide in PowerPoint with Office Timeline Free or Plus Edition  use the historical date feature.  It enables you to enter AD dates that precede January, 1, 1753 in the Gregorian calendar. You can enable the historical date feature by right clicking in any date cell in the Milestone or Task Wizard (see  below).  From there you can enter historical dates back to year January 1, 0001.

If you are using the Plus version for building historical timeline where the year is relevant and the month and day may not be (as shown below), use the Milestone or Task Date Format button on the ribbon and set the date format to YYYY.   Also to vertically re-position your Milestones higher and create connectors, so their text does not overlap (4 examples below), please see How To Re-position Crowded Milestones

History template

Browse the free timeline template collection for more examples or free downloadable templates.


Quickly turn project data into professional timelines

Build stunning, uncomplicated timelines and Gantt charts that are easy to make and simple to communicate. Get the advanced features of Office Timeline Plus free for 14 days.

GET FREE TRIAL

Office Timeline Quick Start

This guide shows you how to create beautiful PowerPoint timelines slides in 5 easy steps. Before you get started you will need to have Office Timeline Free edition or Office Timeline Plus Edition installed and activated.  When this is done the Office Timeline ribbon will become available in PowerPoint.  The asterisks throughout this guide indicate functionality available in Office Timeline Plus edition .

STEP 1 – Click New

Start creating your project timeline by clicking the New button.  This launches the Office Timeline wizards which guide you through a couple easy set-up and design steps before creating your customized timeline slide.

STEP 2 – Select a timeline

Choose between a Metro, Gantt, Phases or Intervals style of timeline or use the Template* tab to browse through pre-designed, industry specific, fast-start templates. Click the Next arrow to begin entering your project data.   

STEP 3 – Add Milestones

  • Milestones are reference points that mark the significant events of your project on the timeline, for example “Project Kick-Off” or “Final Release.”

Add the Date for each of your project milestones and type in their Title or use the clipboard button* to paste complete data tables from Excel.  Next, select what Styleyou want your milestone marker to be and choose the color of each marker by clicking on the Color box, for example a red triangle marker or blue flag marker.  You can pick which milestones will be positioned above or Below the Timeband, or use the up/down button to automatically alternate them.  When you are done hit the Next arrow to enter your task information.

STEP 4 – Add tasks

  • Tasks are your project activities which have a start date and which need to be accomplished by a finish date, for example “Design and Develop Phase” or “Sourcing and Procurement”

Enter the Start Date and End Date for your tasks or use the clipboard button* to paste task data from Excel.  Sort and re-position the order of your tasks with the Order* drop down menu.  Choose a Color you would like for each of your task bands.  Click on theShape drop-down and pick the shape you would like for your task bands.  Click the Nextarrow to customize your timeline.

STEP 5 – Style it

Make style and design enhancements on the 4 Style Wizard tabs.

The General Tab is focused on the Timeband. Change the Band’s color and the color of the Text* on the timeband.  You can also enable and choose a color for  Elapsed Timedisplay which graphically displays how much time has passed.  The Today Makerfunction will show today’s date, which can be positioned above or below your timeband. The End Caps function will place the start year on the left of your timeband and the finish year on the right of your time band.   

The Milestone Tab is for formatting for the color, font style and size of your milestoneTextDates and Flag Connectors.  You can also change the color of your flag connectors.

The Task Tab is for formatting Text and Dates and adding extras.  You can turn on the Task Duration count for each task, choose to show it in weeks or days, and place it inside or below the task band. The Auto adjust long titles function will automatically place long task text titles above the task band when they are too long to fit inside the task band. You can also, turn on/off task Connectors here and pick their colors.

On the Scale Tab you can use the slider to change your timeline’s Intervals from months to days, weeks, quarters, or years.  You can also adjust the way the dates are shown on the time band, and you can specify an exact Time Scale rather than using the automatic time span.

Now you are done, click the green Check box and Office Timeline will build the presentation you have created.  To edit your timeline in the future, open it, click on it and the Office Timeline ribbon will become active.  You can now use the functions on the ribbon to make changes or to access the MilestoneTask and Style Wizards for updating your data and design preferences.


Quickly turn project data into professional timelines

Build stunning, uncomplicated timelines and Gantt charts that are easy to make and simple to communicate. Get the advanced features of Office Timeline Plus free for 14 days.

GET FREE TRIAL

Importing and Exporting Excel Data with Office Timeline

In both Office Timeline Plus and in Office Timeline Free edition you can export your project timelines or Gantt templates from PowerPoint into Excel data tables.  Also, in Office Timeline Plus Edition you can quickly create a PowerPoint timeline or Gantt chart by importing your project schedule from Excel.

Exporting

Exporting project schedules back to Excel is an easy two-step process that uses the Chronology Template which is built into the product.  Here’s how:

  1. From your timeline click on the Change button on the Office Timeline ribbon and select the Chronology Table. This will insert a new PowerPoint slide with Milestone and Task data in table format. From there cut and paste the tables into Excel.
  2. From there cut and paste the tables from PowerPoint to Excel.

Importing (requires Office Timeline Plus edition)

If you built your project in Excel or have exported from Office Timeline to Excel, it is simple to paste your project schedule into Office Timeline Plus Edition. Make sure your Excel table columns are formatted to:

  • Milestone Table = Date, Milestone Title
  • Task Table = Start Date, End Date, Task Description

If you need to create space between your milestones after pasting your table please see Re-position Project Milestones To Create Space.

As Office Timeline iterates quickly, expect to see significant data integration enhancements with Excel and other project tools.

Are you running the latest version?  Check our Release Update site here.


Quickly turn project data into professional timelines

Build stunning, uncomplicated timelines and Gantt charts that are easy to make and simple to communicate. Get the advanced features of Office Timeline Plus free for 14 days.

GET FREE TRIAL