14+ Timeline Chart Examples & Templates

It’s much easier to assess the development of an activity or event when it is projected through a timeline chart. Timelines demonstrate what phases are already in the past, what is currently in progress, and what is supposed to happen or to be finished in the future. But for the timeline to serve its intended purpose, it must be constructed correctly.To be able to create a timeline chart the right way, read on below for more information.

Elements of a Timeline Chart

While the content of your chart would typically depend on what your exact purpose is, there are a few elements that must be included in the timeline in any case.

1. Tasks or Events: As the most important element of the chart, these are the items that influence the cause-and-effect reaction of each occurrence in your timeline. This can cover anything from the steps to complete a project to the incidents leading up to a significant event in history.

2. Dates: This refers to the start and end dates of an event or project. For instance, the dates in a Gantt chart help indicate when a certain task should be started along with when it is meant to be finished. In most cases, you can’t push through with a particular activity unless the activity prior to it is completed.

3. Duration: This is the time period between the start and end dates of a task or occurrence. This shows the gradual progression as each milestone is passed to demonstrate how something is achieved over time.

4. Dependencies: In connection to what was previously stated, there are some tasks or activities that are co-related and must come hand in hand at all times. If a certain event fails to pull through as expected, it creates a chain reaction to the events succeeding it.

14+ Timeline Chart Templates

Blank Facebook Timeline Chart

Blank Facebook Timeline Chart

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Construction Timeline Chart

Construction Timeline Chart

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Marketing Timeline Chart

Marketing Timeline Chart

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My Life Timeline Chart

My Life Timeline Chart

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Project Timeline Chart

Project Timeline Chart

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Research Timeline Chart

Research Timeline Chart

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Timeline Chart Design

Timeline Chart Design

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Timeline Chart Template for Students

Timeline Chart Template for Student

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Timeline Infographic Chart

Timeline Infographic Chart

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Wedding Timeline Chart

Wedding Timeline Chart

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Cost per Genome Timeline Chart

Cost per Genome Timeline Chartgenome.gov
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Global Temperature Timeline Chart

Global Temperature Timeline Chartclimate.gov
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Health Matters Timeline Chart

Health Matters Timeline Chartassets.publishing.service.gov.uk
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Minimum Wage Timeline Chart

Minimum Wage Timeline Chartmurray.seattle.gov
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Smoking Awareness Timeline Chart

Smoking Awareness Timeline Chartsmokefree.gov
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How to Create a Timeline Chart in Excel

While there are many ways to create a timeline chart, one of the most efficient methods you could use is through the widely popular application Microsoft Excel. Since timelines can be a powerful tool to achieve successful project management, knowing how to create one from scratch is sure to come in handy. Refer to the guidelines below and you’ll be on your way.

1. Make a list of key events or dates in a table:

Note down important events, vital decision points, or critical deliverables that are relevant to your timeline. These items are known as the Milestones which shall be added to create the chart. Once you have listed these items, create the table out of these Milestones and specify their respective due dates beside it. You also need to add another column to your table to plot a repetitive sequence of numbers, which shall be used to indicate the height of each Milestone on your timeline. You may also see Chart Examples in Word

2. Set up a Scatter chart:

From the timeline worksheet in the application, select any blank cell available. Next, select the Insert tab to open the Charts section of the Excel ribbon. Click the Scatter or Bubble Chart menu and select Scatter to insert a white chart space onto the worksheet.

3. Add Milestone data to the table:

Right-click the blank chart and click Select Data to open the Select Data Source window of the application. Here, you can find a table named Legend Entries (Series) with an Add button that will open the Edit Series window. This allows you to add the necessary dates to create your timeline. These dates must be entered into the field named Series X values which may easily be copied by clicking the first date of your timeline and dragging it down to the last date indicated.

As for the Series Y values, this is where you can enter the plotting numbers indicated in your table. The same input technique applies. When both fields are filled, click OK to confirm.

4. Turn the Scatter into a timeline:

By clicking on the chart, a set of options will appear on its upper ride side. The button will then open the Chart Elements control box where you must uncheck the Gridlines and Chart Title options. On the same control box, hover your mouse over the word Axes to bring up an expansion arrow beside it. Click on this arrow to disable the Primary Vertical option but leaving the Primary Horizontal checked. Data Labels and Errors Bars may also be added using the same control box. You may also see charts in excel.

You can then format the chart to make it look like a timeline using the various tools and features available.

Step 5. Label each Milestone: 

To make the milestone descriptions for your timeline chart, open the Format Axis menu and select the Series 1 Data Labels from the drop-down menu of the Axis Options. This will open the Format Data Labels menu. Next, click on the Label Options icon > uncheck Y Value > put a check next to Value From Cells to open the Excel data entry window called Data label Range. This allows you to input the descriptions for each milestone.

Step 6. Style your timeline:

Enhance the appearance of your timeline chart by applying some styling choices. You can do this by exploring the Format Data Series menu when you right-click on any of the milestone points of your chart.

Useful Tips for Designing a Timeline Chart

Timeline charts, or any chart type in general, can be pretty boring to look at. Considering how charts are used to convey data in such a way that viewers could easily grasp, the least you could is to design a timeline chart that’s even worth a second glance. That being said, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Color code points in time: A great way to highlight significant time points in your chart is to use a variation of colors. Be sure to choose your colors carefully, as you wouldn’t want to make it difficult for your audience to read each data entry.
  • Tell a story: Timeline charts often show a series of events in a chronological order. Hence, it only make sense to use your chart for visual storytelling. The evolution from one event to another must be made apparent by only including milestones that are relevant and essential to your main subject. You may also see Price Chart Examples
  • Keep it straightforward: Avoid a wordy chart by keeping your labels and descriptions brief and to the point. Make sure to style your text elements appropriately to make them readable, and use a simple language that may be understood by all.
  • Optimize white space: The challenging thing about charts is that they’re visually dependent. So without applying white or negative space, you could be risking the readability of your chart’s content. Using white space between letters, words, and points in your chart can be beneficial in many ways.

Types of Timeline Charts

Timeline charts generally vary in terms of form. To choose the one that will perfectly suit your needs, you need to define the type of data you have along with the best way to visualize it.

  • Gantt Chart Timeline: Gantt charts are the most popular type of timeline that project managers often use to track the progress of their assigned project. It shows time periods of events, actions, and tasks along a horizontal line to make it easy for viewers to understand past, current, and future assignments accordingly.
  • Chronology Chart Timeline: In this type of chart, events are depicted in a chronological sequence from left to right. This demonstrates a succession of actions and events that took place within a specified period of time. Chronology timelines are most common for making historical timelines as well.
  • Chart Timeline with Vertical Bars: In most cases, this type of timeline reflects the time and amount (of any kind) used over a specific period. This is often used by finance teams to project how much money was gained or raised over a certain span of time.You may also see comparison chart examples
  • Interactive and Static Timelines: Timelines that are drawn or printed are known to be a static one. Since they have been created manually, it’s impossible to change the variables indicated in the chart since it already includes established pieces of information. But if you decide to make your timeline with the help of a timeline-generating software, adding and editing data may easily be done therefore turning the timeline into an interactive one.

Timeline Chart FAQs

Here are few frequently asked question regarding timeline charts:

How can I make a timeline chart?

If you’re having trouble creating your chart or don’t want to be bothered to build one from scratch, consider using a template instead. Templates may easily be customized to meet your exact requirements using a software application that it is compatible with. That way, you can focus on personalizing your data and styling your timeline chart to make it easy to comprehend.

What is the purpose of a timeline chart?

Timeline charts are often used to show the progression of a particular event or activity over time. It offers us a visual description of the past, present, and future condition of a given matter as well. Similar to an event flowchart, timeline charts are an essential tool that helps project leaders, corporate managers, historians, and scientists keep track of time and educate others on the subject.

Why is a timeline chart important?

There are things that are difficult to communicate and understand using mere words. This is one of the reasons why project managers, instructors, and other leaders opt to use some sort of charting method to relay important information to an audience. In terms of project management, these charts help illustrate time-related metrics, synchronize tasks, set deadlines, and define potential delays in order to complete an assignment in due time. Not only are timeline charts visually attractive, but they can also be informative enough to expand our knowledge. You may also see diet chart examples

And there you have it! With the help of these guidelines, templates, and examples, you can create the perfect timeline chart in no time.

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