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Example Timeline Template

A sample timeline template is the easiest way to set up a project schedule quickly. Given that timelines are pivotal to accurately coordinating complex projects, any PM professional should have a trusted arsenal of example timeline templates at hand to facilitate their work.

Lending an already-made structure to your own data, an example timeline template helps you effectively represent the logical sequence of events in a project and convey their timing to relevant audiences. Once you customize a sample timeline template into a format that suits your needs, you can store and re-use it for future work. Thus, you can streamline and standardize processes, as well as achieve repeatable quality.

Expand your knowledge base on timeline creation and your toolkit of timeline templates on which you can rely whenever managing a project with the help of the resources we’ve put together on this page:

Using and updating the Example Timeline Template

This sample timeline template was created to help enterprise workers get a quick start on creating a timeline for important client, executive or other stakeholder communications. Project leaders, managers and planners can use this template as an example to help spark design ideas for their own timeline visuals or they can simply edit it in PowerPoint with their own data.

This example timeline template is intended to visually communicate plans in a way that is easy for important audiences to read and easy for them to understand. Project managers who need to present status reviews can use the sample timeline’s Today’s Date feature so audiences can see progress of the plan. This project timeline example also includes elapsed time on the timeband to further illustrate where the project or plan currently stands against the time schedule. The example timeline template is useful for project reviews, status reports, plan presentations, scorecards, or for any other effort that requires a simple project schedule or the illustration of a plan.

The sample timeline template was created to work natively with the free PowerPoint timeline maker tool from Office Timeline. Office Timeline makes project timeline slides in PowerPoint and revises them automatically as things change. For example, the Today’s Date marker or the elapsed time feature are automatically updated if the template is edited with the timeline maker. If milestones change, the PowerPoint add-in will update the sample template automatically. Using it also means you don’t have to manually move objects, dates, milestones or tasks in PowerPoint because Office Timeline does this automatically.

Since manually editing timelines takes considerable effort, doing so with an automated tool right from PowerPoint will save time, and revising or updating your timeline in the future will always be fast. Use this example timeline template to make a customized timeline slide that you can revise repeatedly throughout the course of a project.

FAQs about sample timelines and templates

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about timeline templates.

What is a sample timeline?

A sample timeline is a pre-set example of a timeline that one can use for reference and adjust to illustrate their own list of events in a chronological order. Sample timelines can vary in layout and complexity depending on the type of data they display, but all of them are meant to help the viewer better understand the time relationship between various events or trends for a particular subject.

Since sample timelines visualize a succession of items, they typically adopt a linear display, along a horizontal axis labelled with dates paralleling it. There are various fields that resort to these visual tools to convey data in a more digestible format, ranging from education and research to product development, event planning, and project management.

To explore the different forms a sample timeline can take, check out our collection of timeline examples.

What are the different types of timelines?

Depending on the format they use, timelines can be categorized into:

  • Text timelines – labeled as text.

  • Visual timelines, which in turn include the following sub-types:

    • Static number timelines – these use numbers as labels and are commonly known as line graphs.

    • Interactive, clickable timelines.

    • Dynamic video timelines.

If we look at the type of data they represent, timelines can be of the following type:

  • Project timelines

  • Historical timelines

  • Process timelines

Find a diverse range of clickable visual timelines that you can easily edit and customize to your taste by going to our gallery of timeline templates.

What should a timeline include?

No matter the type of data that it displays, a timeline should always contain:

  • A timescale (whether horizontal or vertical) along which the list of constituent elements (events, activities, stages) will be distributed. This will represent the entire duration of the process or project you want to illustrate.

  • The constitutive items, the events, which are arranged in their chronological order.

  • Short descriptions for each item included on the timeline.

  • Start and end dates (if the item in question is an activity or stage), or the simple date (if the item is a milestone).

How can I create a timeline?

Here is how you can create a timeline in 5 easy steps:

  1. Choose an event or process that you would like to visually represent with your timeline.

  2. Gather all the relevant information that you want to display (phases, activities, events, dates, descriptions).

  3. Pick a timeline format/style that will best suit the visualization of your event or process. Use our example timeline template to get started if you feel uninspired.

  4. Use the date with which your timeline begins as the starting point and the ending date as its final point.

  5. Create a separate space on your timeline for each of the items to be displayed, arranging them in chronological order. This means you need to add a date and description to each of the timeline elements.

Jumpstart your timeline creation process with any of our easily customizable pre-built timeline templates or learn how to make a timeline from scratch using various office tools with our comprehensive tutorials.

What is a timeline diagram?

A timeline diagram is a type of chart that consists of a horizontal bar or line that represents time progressing from left to right. This axis is marked with items (events or steps) that indicate when they should or did happen. In project management, timelines serve as a visual tool for communicating important milestones and deadlines.

Where can I get a timeline template?

You can find various timeline templates online depending on the type of content you want to display. To help you save time researching for the right sample, we have gathered a wide range of project timeline templates from which you can choose to quickly edit, customize, and use for various purposes.

Is there a timeline template in Word?

Yes, Microsoft Word does offer a few schematic timeline templates that you can use to create a basic chronology. To access MS Word’s timeline templates, go to File > New and type “timeline” in the search box at the top of the document.

However, these simple timeline layouts may prove limited when dealing with more complex plans. We recommend you try more advanced designing tools, like using Microsoft PowerPoint to create a timeline.

How do I create a timeline template in Word?

Typically designed to create and edit copy, Microsoft Word can also be used to build a simple timeline through its SmartArt graphics. To do so, follow the steps below:

  1. Open a blank document in Microsoft Word, and then change its orientation from portrait to landscape from the Page Layout tab. This will provide more room for your timeline.

  2. Click on SmartArt from the Insert tab.

  3. Choose the basic timeline layout (an arrow with dots in the middle) from the Processes category of the pop-up box that appears.

  4. Add your project information to the graphic by double-clicking on the text blurbs visible in the Word document.

The basic timeline layout comes with three standard entries, but you can add extra events by pressing Enter after a bullet point in the floating box that shows up when you double-click on the graphic.

Alternatively, you can speed up the process and produce a more professional visual using Microsoft PowerPoint and the example timeline template provided on this page.

How do I create a timeline template in Excel?

Here are the main steps to take if you want to create an example timeline template in Excel:

  • Open a new spreadsheet in Excel.

  • Go to the Insert tab on the Excel ribbon and select SmartArt from the Illustrations section.

  • From the newly opened window, click on Processes, and then choose Basic Timeline option.

  • Add your project data to the graphic by clicking on the heading of the “Type your text here” box and entering your information.

To learn more about how to create a timeline using Excel and other office tools, check out our step-by-step tutorials. Or you can simply save yourself all the hassle and automatically customize any of our ready-made, easily editable timeline templates using the Office Timeline add-in.

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Updating your template is simple and fast.

Use the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in to quickly update any of these timeline templates or create your own project visuals. Easily change the texts, dates, colors, shapes and styles of your timeline, right from inside PowerPoint.

Free PowerPoint Timeline and Swimlane Maker