How to make a timeline easily

Timeline makers are powerful visual tools for presenting project or planning information clearly.  This post will show you how to easily make a timeline slide for client or management presentations, with a simple template driven timeline maker that plugs into PowerPoint. 

In the past it has been difficult to create a timeline that is graphically appealing or to make a timeline that is appropriate for presentations to staff, clients or managers.  Free timeline makers, also called timeline creators or timeline generators, are a category of software tools that make this task much easier. This post shows how to make a timeline easily with a free timeline creator that builds professional timelines quickly, right inside PowerPoint.    Timeline template made with timeline generator Office Timeline

Office tools do not manage timeline data or automate timelines.

To create a timeline with Visio or make a timeline with Excel is painful because neither are automated for this work like a timeline creator is.   A timeline creator or timeline generator is specifically set-up to create graphical images and to manage project schedules.  (project schedules are the dates and events that make up your project).  A timeline creator or timeline generator simplifies how this project schedule is used to make a timeline and how to update it easily.

The ability to continually make changes is important because project schedules frequently change.  For example if any of your milestones slip the timeline creator would automatically update the entire timeline.   Without the automation of a timeline creator, making even simple changes like this would require painful manual editing of the graphics for each Excel data point or Visio object.Project Schedule for timeline creator

Project tools are too complicated for presentations to clients and managers.

Heavy-weight project tools such as Microsoft Project, like a timeline creator, are also equipped to make a timeline or Gantt chart.  Although these tools are automated to manage project schedules elegantly, they are complicated to learn and too heavy for high-level presentations.  Since project software is not designed to be graphical, it is difficult to make timeline presentations that are suitable for reviews with staff, customers and executives.  These audiences expect a PowerPoint presentation.

Office Timeline is a free timeline creator that solves these problems.

The best solution for project presentations is a light-weight timeline generator that integrates into a familiar presentation tool like PowerPoint.  It should create a timeline template or Gantt chart natively in PowerPoint so it can be updated, shared and modified simply by any PowerPoint user.  The post below shows how to easily build a timeline, right from PowerPoint, with a free timeline creator called Office Timeline.

Follow these steps to make a timeline quickly. 

Download and install Office Timeline.  Once installed it will add an Office Timeline tab to your PowerPoint ribbon.

Step 1: From the ribbon click New to launch the timeline creator wizard which will guide you through easy set-up and design steps.Timeline creator ribbon in PowerPoint

Step 2: Browse through styles of timelines, Gantt charts and templates.   Select the style you would like to build, then click the Next arrow to style your timeline.Make a timeline in PowerPoint

Step 3:  Enter the key project milestones and tasks and set their dates or durations (in the Office Timeline Plus edition you can paste schedules directly from Excel).  Make some optional style choices such as changing the color or shape for each item.  When you have finished click the Next arrow to create a timeline.Timeline creator milestone wizardTimeline generator task wizard

Step 4: Choose how you want milestones, tasks, timeband, and scaling to be presented.Make a timeline in PowerPoint _Style WizardMake a timeline in PowerPoint _Scale Wizard

Step 5: Done, just click the green Check in the timeline creator to make a timeline slide that looks like this.Make a timeline template in PowerPoint with add-in from Office Timeline

You now have a professional looking timeline slide that will stand out in high-level presentations. At any time, you can make changes to the slide by simply clicking on the Milestone, Task or Style buttons on the timeline generator ribbon. This will re-access the wizards so you can quickly update your timeline, and easily change any of the design choices you made. Office Timeline will instantly rebuild your slide with those changes.

See a this short video of how it works.

Download Office Timeline Free Edition

Suggested Reading
Using timelines for IT projects
Exceptional PowerPoint Add-Ons
Steps for creating a Gantt chart in Excel

Steps for creating a Timeline in Excel