How to make a timeline easily

Updated on 25 September 2020

How to make a timeline

Are you in search of a project management software application that can render a Gantt chart, roadmap or timeline within minutes? Do you need to create a work breakdown schedule for your next venture that will positively ‘wow’ your execs and stakeholders, but haven’t honed your design skills yet? Have you already tried several PM tools that are just too complex and require you to start from scratch every single time? For those of you who recognize themselves in any of the descriptions above, we might have the solution to your challenges.

Read on to find out how Office Timeline can save project management professionals hours of their time while also generating visually impressive, top-notch roadmaps, swimlane diagrams and Gantt charts, even if they don’t have a degree in fine arts. But first, let’s try to answer this pressing question:

Do you REALLY need a dedicated timeline maker?

In all fairness, multi-functional project management applications that you can utilize as timeline makers already exist, right? Even Excel, Word and Microsoft Project include this feature! However, what you might find is that the process of creating a roadmap or a swimlane diagram this way is anything but easy.

For instance, if you want to learn more about how to make a timeline in Excel, or how to employ other traditional office apps for this purpose, then check out the links below or go to the Make timelines with your usual office tools page.

You’ll notice right off the bat that software applications not specifically designed for generating project visuals tend to lack templatization, feel clunky or unintuitive, and are anything but convenient. Time is a precious commodity and you just can’t afford to spend hours fiddling with the fonts or color scheme of a graphic that’ll probably be used as a one-off. Nonetheless, without the panache of attractive project visuals that allow your audience to make sense of the data, the meeting will quickly turn into another uninspiring snooze-fest.

To sum this up, the downsides of relying on generic project management software for your Gantt chart, roadmap and timeline needs are:

  • They feature limited or non-existing templates
  • They generally come with a steep learning curve
  • The process ends up being highly time consuming

Therefore, a dedicated Gantt chart and timeline maker like Office Timeline can be a project manager’s best friend and ace in the hole.

Why Office Timeline?

User experience played a major role in the development of this Gantt chart and timeline maker from its inception. Office Timeline was conceived as a PowerPoint add-in not just for the convenience of creating and presenting the project visuals using the same basic software. It also leverages the familiar controls and interface of the popular Microsoft Office suite app that’s been around for decades.

Moreover, it supports importing from external data sources often used in project management like Excel, MS Project, Smartsheet or Wrike, for extra flexibility. Finally, thanks to its wide array of fully customizable templates, the design work you’ve put in once can be adapted and repurposed easily.

But don’t just take our word for it

We talked about the advantages Office Timeline can bring to the table, but let’s actually see how it works and if it can rise to the occasion, shall we? Next, we’ll show you how to create a timeline from scratch in 5 easy steps using the Pro Edition of the add-in, so you can judge for yourself if this is the right timeline maker for you.

Note: Once installed, Office Timeline will show up on the PowerPoint ribbon tab and from there you can access the controls that make the magic happen.

Office Timeline menu

  1. Create new timeline
  2. From the ribbon tab, click the New button to get started and navigate to the Styles and Templates page.

    Office Timeline Create New button

    Note: If you already have your project data stored in a compatible external application, you can use the Import button instead of New.

  3. Pick a template
  4. From here, find a style or a template that matches your current category of project or follow your heart and go for the one that first catches your eye. You’ll be able to tailor it as you see fit anyhow in just a few moments. Once you’ve made up your mind, simply hit the Use Template button. For this guide, we chose a swimlane diagram template.

    Office Timeline styles and templates

  5. Set dates and duration for your tasks and milestones
  6. In the Data view, enter the key project milestones and tasks, then set their dates and durations. Once you pick a template, the list will be automatically populated with default values, so you can either remove and add your own, or edit them to match your project’s data. Notice that, because we’ve opted for swimlane diagram template, the milestones are already placed in individual lanes. You can also change the task or milestone design and color at this stage, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Hit the green Create button in the bottom right corner when you’re done.

    Office Timeline Data view

  7. Arrange the elements on your timeline
  8. Alright, you’ve got the ball rolling and a rough version of your timeline is on your PowerPoint slide, but it’s time to reorder and rearrange the items. Enter the Edit Timeline view and check out how easily you can move the elements with drag & drop style controls. You can also resize the timeband, swimlane headers and make more space on your slide.

    Office Timeline Edit Timeline view

  9. Style to perfection
  10. Still not happy with the size, shape or colors of the timeline elements? No worries, that’s what the Style Pane is for! Click on any item of the timeline and a menu with all the customization options will pop open on the right side of the PowerPoint window. Edits you make here take effect instantly on your graph and the menu changes according to the element you’ve selected.

    Office Timeline Style Pane

That’s it! Start with a template, add your data and style to perfection using intuitive drag & drop controls, and you’ve got yourself a timeline that would’ve taken hours of work otherwise.

Office Timeline project visual

Did we mention that you can also easily save it as a custom template and reuse it on your next projects? If you get stuck, you can always visit our video tutorials page where we cover all the important operations in more detail.

We believe that the best way to determine if a tool is right for you is to try it out, so we’re offering Office Timeline as a free version for download as well. Give it a go or check out the Pro Edition instead for a no-holds-barred experience and see for yourself just how much time you can save thanks to this intuitive add-on.

For those who want to benefit from the flexibility of the web and the familiarity of PowerPoint when creating important timelines, Office Timeline offers an online solution as well. Use our cloud-based timeline maker to quickly build and share beautiful PowerPoint slides right in your browser.

Quickly turn project data into professional timelines

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


Quickly make a Pharmaceutical timeline slide in PowerPoint

Updated on 15 May 2020

Make Pharma timelines in PowerPoint

In clinical trials and Pharmaceutical research, high-level timelines and roadmaps that look and feel professional are considered instrumental. Why? The short answer is that research teams are often required to present – and explain – their progress and findings to audiences with varying degrees of scientific knowledge. 

These audiences consist of key stakeholders who make effective and time-sensitive decisions, so the way complex data is delivered and received can have a major impact on the future of the project. It goes without saying that integrating project timelines, Gantt charts and swimlane diagrams into a PowerPoint slide will considerably streamline any presentation.

This post aims to show you how quick and easy it is to build a clinical trial or Pharmaceutical research timeline using the Office Timeline free PowerPoint add-in. You will also see just how customizable these visuals are, and how you can update plans with just a couple of clicks.

Creating a Pharmaceutical timeline has always been painful

Historically speaking, creating timelines and Gantt charts that depict the discovery process and clinical trials has always represented a pain point in the Pharmaceutical industry. There are a number of applications designed specifically for project management in this field. 

However, the excessively complex diagrams they generate make them unsuitable, particularly when it comes to creating the high-level overviews required in board meetings with management or agency execs. Not to mention the learning curve that rivals a degree in biochemistry!

Alternatives exist, of course, in the form of Microsoft Project or Excel, which you might already be using for collating some research and patient info. Applications in this category do include some features for rendering graphical representations of data. 

Unfortunately, they end up being extremely time consuming due to limited automation and lack of templates designed exclusively for Pharmaceutical research roadmaps or clinical trial timelines. Complications increase tenfold whenever you need to update plans, to the point where it’s often easier to rebuild the timeline from scratch.

And, since you’ll probably want to use PowerPoint presentations to showcase your progress in meetings with your stakeholders, the lack of integrations is yet another spanner in the works. In short, the conventional options just aren’t great for presenting, sharing and collaborating on a timeline that’s ultimately designed to bridge the gap between researchers, managers and sponsors.

A smart PowerPoint add-in can solve these problems

What makes the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in different? It’s the ability to aptly address all of the aforementioned issues that make the existing options painful, perhaps even more so for the Pharma industry.

Lightweight yet robust, sporting a sleek and intuitive interface, the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in has everything you need to easily create clinical trial roadmaps and swimlane diagrams of drug research as native .PPTX slides. Not only that, but the slides can be edited and shared within minutes, facilitating communication and collaboration between all the teams involved. Let’s find out more.

How to use Office Timeline to build impressive Pharmaceutical timeline slides

Step 1: Get the add-in

Before you can enjoy the virtually limitless customization options and numerous pre-built templates, you’ll first need to have Office Timeline installed on your machine. You can download the trial version of the add-in from our website. After completing the installation, a new tab will appear in your PowerPoint menu (shown below). Congratulations, you’re on your way!

Office Timeline in PowerPoint

Step 2: Choose a template

The best place to start creating a timeline or Gantt chart are the built-in templates and styles created by our professional design team to accommodate a wide array of scenarios.

Select new template in Office Timeline

But that’s just the beginning. You can also find additional templates – including Pharma templates – in our free Gantt chart and timeline templates gallery or in this blog post. These templates are all completely free, easy to download and we’re constantly working to expand the list so check back regularly to see what’s new.

Step 3: Edit the data

Once you decide on a template, it’s incredibly easy and intuitive to modify the default milestones or tasks or delete them and add your own. Check out how quickly you can update a milestone name, shape, color and even its date directly from Edit Data menu:

Edit Data view in Office Timeline

If your patient or research data is already available in another application, you’ll be happy to know that the Office Timeline add-in allows you to import it directly, so you won’t have to type it in again. We support integrations with Excel, Microsoft Project, Smartsheet and Wrike:

Import from Excel in Office Timeline

Step 4: Style and design features

Visuals like the color theme used, the shape of the elements and their contrast against the backdrop play a major role in what you’ll highlight during the presentation and what you’d like to emphasize. The templates are a great place to start, but every single element of the graph can be customized separately as well. 

You can radically alter the default design of the timeband, milestones, tasks or swimlanes with just a couple of clicks, to bring in your own branding and breathe life into previously sterile sets of data:

Style Pane options in Office Timeline

Step 5: Share and collaborate

We cannot stress enough how vital communication and collaboration is in the Pharmaceutical industry, which is why the Office Timeline add-in integrates a feature for sharing your work via different channels. 

Emailing your roadmaps to team members and stakeholders as an image, PowerPoint slide, or even the entire .PPTX file is simple and can be done directly from the add-in’s interface. Check it out:

Share options in Office Timeline

To sum up

In terms of breaking down complex Pharmaceutical research and clinical trial data, the Office Timeline add-in is just what the doctor prescribed. Creating roadmaps and swimlane diagrams from scratch is a breeze, thanks to its clear interface and comprehensive list of dedicated templates

With Office Timeline, PowerPoint becomes a one-size-fits-all powerhouse of designing, updating, presenting and sharing timelines, all without the downside of a prohibitive learning curve. Download the 14-day trial to get started, after which you can continue to use the free version or take the next step with the extra features of the Pro Edition to wow your stakeholders and transform boardroom meetings into your favorite part of the day.

More resources

Quickly turn project data into professional timelines

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


Timeline Maker for Grant Managers using Grant Application Software

Last month I attended a workshop for Grant Managers.  It covered a wide range of topics ranging from writing a sponsorship proposal and grant administration to how to effectively manage funded projects with grant application software.   One observation I came away with is that grant management professionals are being required to provide increasingly more documentation concerning the distribution of project funds and tracking progress against the initial sponsorship proposal or charter.   I heard that the administrative tasks involved with gathering data, creating reports, holding status meetings, plus all other tasks has been increasing along with the ever higher need to communicate with colleagues, contractors, staff, funding agencies, and facilities managers.

My take-away was that more people needed clearly communicated information about status and the progress of funded projects.  I noticed in the workshop that the grant management process, including project reviews, are very often managed with Excel worksheets and similarly communicated as Excel tables in PowerPoint.  In discussing this at one of the break-out sessions, I learned that, although PowerPoint was frequently used, creating a grant management timeline slide for a project presentation is tough to do, even for those who had strong PowerPoint skills.

This is an area in which Office Timeline could help.  It is a free timeline maker embedded into Microsoft PowerPoint (2007, 2010, and 2013), so using it is intuitive and easy.  If you need to prepare the grant, compose a sponsorship proposal, or manage research projects, you can leverage Office Timeline to create visual, project timelines that will drive the narrative.

Any grant management professional needing to effectively communicate plans or funding status can use Office Timeline to quickly create and share slides that are easy for funding agencies and project teams to understand. It starts with a simple wizard, where a user chooses a template and Office Timeline guides them through the entire process, making the design and creation of project slides a quick and intuitive process.  I have captured the process in a series of screenshots below and would be interested in your experience with it.

Making a sponsorship proposal timeline template

Make a sponsorship proposal timeline in PowerPoint

Sponsorship proposal timeline template

Download Office Timeline Free Edition

Suggested Reading
Steps for making a timeline
Exceptional PowerPoint Add-Ons

Simplifying Gantts for important presentations

Suggested Video
Cutting and pasting your grant schedule into PowerPoint


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.


How to make an event plan in PowerPoint.

If you have ever organized an event or had to make an event proposal you know it is important to build the event plan in Excel, so you can manage all the details.  However, when it comes time to view or present your event plan or event proposal Excel is not suitable because it lacks the ability to make a graphical timeline.  PowerPoint is a more suitable tool for building graphical timelines of your event plan, however doing so has been time-consuming and slow.  That’s changed with the free Office Timeline plug-in for PowerPoint.

Office Timeline is a free plug-in for Microsoft PowerPoint 2007, 2010, and 2013 that quickly makes your event timelines.  Using it to create, manage and present an event plan or event proposal is intuitive and simple.  It starts with a simple wizard for entering the key tasks and milestones of your event plan or you can paste those directly from Excel(requires Plus edition). Then with a mouse click your plan is turned into a beautifully laid out PowerPoint timeline slide.  Once created, it is easy to edit and share the slide so planners can keep their team and vendors updated on progress and changes.

Here’s how to make an event plan or event proposal in PowerPoint.  First download and install free Office Timeline from  Once installed it will add a tab to your PowerPoint ribbon for creating and editing timelines. To create a new event plan slide, follow the 4 steps below.

1 – Click New to launch the Office Timeline wizards which will guide you through a couple easy set-up and design steps.

2 – Select the type of event timeline you want from pre-designed templates, then click the Next arrow to begin entering your event plan.

3 – Add the key milestones of your event plan or event proposal, choose the color and style for each milestone marker and then hit the Next arrow.Evetn Plan Milestones

4 – Add the key tasks of your event plan or event proposal, choose the color and shape you would like for each of your task bands.Event Plan Tasks

Finished.  Click the green Check Box and Office Timeline will build your event plan or event proposal as a timeline on a PowerPoint slide which you easily update, change and share with others.Event PlanDownload Office Timeline Free Edition

Suggested Reading
Steps for making an event timeline
Exceptional PowerPoint Add-Ons

How to paste event schedules into PowerPoint

Suggested Video Tutorial
Cut and paste Excel tables into PowerPoint


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.


Make a graphical itinerary template for travel documents

Whenever I meet folks in business segments I am unfamiliar with, I try to learn about their work and whether there are places our timeline maker could add value.  This was the case with a travel agent who was in business of putting high-end tours together.  I asked if she used some type of itinerary planner or itinerary template with her clients, and if I could see the travel itinerary for one of her tours.

It was a nicely assembled document with a lot of pretty pictures and blurbs about fantastic destinations.  Cleary a lot of work goes into preparing something that looked good, however I noticed it lacked a high level overview of the trip.  I thought about capturing her itinerary as a timeline and mentioned that Office Timeline could do that for her.  Specifically it would provide an itinerary planner an easy tool to make a graphical itinerary template for their client’s travel documents.

Itinerary planner

Office Timeline is a timeline maker that is embedded into PowerPoint, so using it to create, manage and present itinerary templates is intuitive and quick.  It starts with a simple wizard for entering travel dates and destinations or importing those events directly from Excel. Then with a push of a button this itinerary is turned into a graphical image which can be pasted into other documents  (see blog post pasting your timeline image into other documents).

Itinerary template

Although my friend did not use PowerPoint much I suggested it would be valuable in making itinerary templates that could be re-used.  She graciously volunteered to Office Timeline and give me feedback.

When we reconnected, I learned she did end up using it to make visual itineraries which she pasted as images into her customer’s travel documents.  Now here is the interesting thing I did not anticipate, she also found several other clever uses for Office Timeline.

She had this notion was that visual images of travel itineraries would be very easy to reference in the future.  Her idea was a portfolio of itinerary templates that would become a knowledge base of her work…very cool.

What excited her most was that it was simple to do and that accessing them graphically was considerably better than sorting through Word or Excel documents (see blog post on pasting itineraries from Excel into Office Timeline).  The other benefit of these itinerary templates was in selling and presenting new proposals.  She thought that presenting her work as visual images would be more engaging for her prospective clients.

Additional Resources

Steps for making a travel timeline
Free timeline maker for PowerPoint
Free images for travel documents

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.