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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Here are few frequently asked question regarding timeline charts:
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.
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.
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.