Free Easy Step by Step Guide on How to Make a Timeline in PowerPoint

In this article, the step by step guide on how to make a timeline in PowerPoint (ppt) is provided with pictures for easy understanding.

Also, a free PowerPoint timeline template is available to download and use for any type of project with simple editing and customization steps.

So, read the full article to learn how to create a timeline in PowerPoint with tips of formatting for creating stunning visual effects.

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Make a Timeline in PowerPoint

What is a Project Timeline?

A timeline is a presentation of sequential events along a line that helps the viewer to quickly understand the time-based relationship between the events.

Previously, the chronological tabular timelines were more common that contain more text than graphical figures. However, now infographic based timelines are very more useful and appealing to the audience.

It contains text along with graphical images for a stunning presentation. There are tons of activities involved in the project for the achievement of goals.

These activities require effective planning and execution to ensure project success. So, project tasks are scheduled over-time keeping in view the inter-linking sequence.

Thus, project timelines are helpful for the project managers to visually analyze the tasks start date, end date, sequence, and duration.

Thus, making a timeline in PowerPoint (ppt) also provides a very simple view of tasks start and end dates, duration, and sequence.

Further, the following information is available on the Timeline.

  • Project Start Date
  • Project Tasks
  • Tasks Start and End Dates
  • Duration of Tasks
  • Tasks Inter-Links
  • Project End Date

There were a lot of tools available for creating project timelines before the advancement of computer technology such as magnetic blocks and Legos TM.

So, now mostly timelines are created using Powerpoint, Word, Visio, Excel, Google Sheets, and Project Management or Gantt chart software.

Related Article: Steps on How to Create a Timeline in Excel & Free Template

Free Download PowerPoint Timeline Template PPT File

I have prepared a template to make the timeline in PowerPoint a matter of few clicks.

So, simply free download the pre-made PowerPoint timeline template ppt file and customize the tasks text and start date.

Thus, it will automatically create the Timeline in ppt for your project with little to no effort.

Make a Timeline in PowerPoint

How to Make a Timeline in PowerPoint?

There are a lot of tools to make a Timeline. However, Microsoft PowerPoint is very useful due to its advanced graphing feature of creating Smart Arts such as list, process, matrix, cycles, and hierarchy.

Moreover, it requires minimum effort to make a timeline in ppt. Thus, many project management companies prefer to use PowerPoint, ppt, excel, or google sheets for timeline making.

Furthermore, the presentation of the project timeline to clients and executives require easy steps to make a timeline in MS Project, PowerPoint, or Word.

Although, many PowerPoint timeline add-ins and extensions are available to quickly create stunning project timelines. However, PowerPoint itself has a SmartArt feature for creating a graphic timeline in ppt.

So, the step by step complete guide for making a timeline in PowerPoint ppt using Smart Art feature is given below.

1. Add a Blank Slide in PowerPoint (PPT)

The flow for this step is Home > New Slide > Blank. So, the description of the process flow is:

  1. Create a new PowerPoint ppt file for making a timeline.
  2. Then navigate to the Home tab and slides section from the ribbon.
  3. So, click on the New Slide button and choose Blank from the dropdown list.
Add a Blank Slide
Blank PowerPoint Slide

2. Insert Basic Timeline from Smart Art Feature in PowerPoint

The flow for this step is Insert > Smart Art > Process > Basic Timeline. So, the description of the process flow is:

  1. Navigate to Insert tab and Illustrations section from the ribbon.
  2. So, click on the Smart Art button and choose the Process tab from the pop-up window of “Choose a SmartArt Graphic”.
  3. Moreover, click on the Basic Timeline icon and OK to insert a timeline in PowerPoint ppt.

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Navigate to SmartArt Icon
Choose Basic Timeline from Process Tab

3. Type the Tasks Text in the Basic Timeline in PowerPoint

  1. Navigate to “Type your text here” window of the Basic timeline and click on the “[Text]” filed to enter the text.
  2. Then make a tabular list of project activities in excel containing description and start date of tasks.
  3. Finally, Insert the data of each task turn by turn and press “Enter” to insert more fields on the timeline in PowerPoint.
Basic Timeline in PowerPoint
Construction Project Schedule Table
Enter the Activities Data in the Timeline

Related Article: Free Project Schedule Template | Gantt Charts and Timelines

4. Step for Formatting of Timeline in PowerPoint

All the above steps help to create a timeline in PowerPoint. Now, a few formatting edits are required to make it looks attractive to the audience.

Resize the Basic Timeline in PPT

  1. Click anywhere on the Basic Timeline for selection.
  2. Then hold on the Shift key and press the Right Arrow key to extend the length of the timeline.
  3. Moreover, hold on the Shift key and press the Down Arrow key to thinner the width of the timeline.
Extend the Timeline Length
Thinner the Basic Timeline Width in PowerPoint

Change the Font Style

  1. Click on the text of any task. Then hold on Control key and Left click on the text of each activity for selection.
  2. Now change the text font style, size, and attributes for customization.
Change the Text Font Settings

Customize the Timeline Design

  1. Select the timeline and navigate to the SmartArt Design > SmartArt Styles section.
  2. Then click on the desired style to apply.

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Change the Timeline SmartArt Style
  1. Further, Right-click on the first task shape to change its color for making it visually simple to understand the start of the project.
  2. Now, click on the Fill button of the pop-up and choose the desired color.
  3. Also, repeat steps 3 & 4 for the shape of the last task.
Start Task Shape Color
Last Task Shape Color
  1. Make the selection of all shapes by holding the Control key. Further, hold on the Shift and Alt key to resize all shapes with the same aspect ratios and fixed centers.
  2. Then select all odd tasks shapes and click Up Arrow key to relocate to the top edge of the drawn line.
  3. Also, repeat the above step to relocate even task shapes to the bottom edge of the drawn line.

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Resize the Shapes of Tasks in PowerPoint Timeline
Relocate the Tasks Shapes of Timeline
  1. Finally, select the first and last task to change the shapes. Navigate to Format > Change Shape.
Change Shapes of First and Last Activity
Timeline in PowerPoint PPT

5. Tips to Make Stunning Timeline in PowerPoint

The Timeline created by following the above steps may not visually fit the color scheme of the project team and executive meeting presentation.

So, the following tips are helpful for the PowerPoint timeline creator to make visually stunning timelines in PowerPoint.

  1. Navigate to Design > Slide Size > Custom Slide Size. Then change the parameters on slide size pop-up and click on the OK button to apply changes.
Change Slide Size in PowerPoint
Change PowerPoint Slide Size
  1. Further, Right-click on the Slide tile on the left slides section of PowerPoint and click on the Format Background button.
  2. Then navigate to Format Background and Color section and change the background color.
Change Background Color
Change Slide Background Color
  1. Moreover, navigate to Insert > Text Box and insert a text box. Also, change the font and paragraph settings to fit the theme of the presentation.
Add the Text Box to Add Headings

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Frequently Asked Questions

There are many questions in the FAQ list of Timelines. However, the basic ones are:

What is the Timeline?

A timeline is a chronological sequence of tasks based on temporal relationships. Also, it provides information about the project start date, tasks start date, task duration, dependency sequence, and project end date.

How do I make a Timeline in PowerPoint?

PowerPoint 2007, 2013, 2016, or 2019 is very helpful to create a timeline using a Smart Art feature.
So, just insert the process basic timeline SmartArt preset and enter the task text data. Further, customize the timeline appearance for graphical enhancement.

What are the 4 Steps to Make a Timeline in PowerPoint 2016?

The following are the four simple steps to create a timeline in PowerPoint 2007 to 2019.

1. Add a blank slide.
2. Insert the blank Basic Timeline using the SmartArt feature.
3. Enter the Tasks text in the basic timeline text box.
4. Reformat the timeline design to make it visually understandable.

How to make Timeline in Word or Excel?

The following simple steps are useful to make a timeline in MS Word or Excel.

1. Go to Insert tab and click on the “SmartArt” button. Then go to process and choose a basic timeline to insert.
2. Enter the text of the tasks and reformat the timeline length, width, text font, shapes, and color scheme.

Finally, it was all about the “How to Make a Timeline in PowerPoint”. Please do share your feedback in the comments section and SUBSCRIBE us to learn more about Project Management.