How to Create a Timeline Using MS PowerPoint

Looking at a timeline, you can easily figure out the order of a series of events and the dates on which those events happened. If the timeline includes textual descriptions for each of the dates as well, it is more than just perfect. So basically a timeline is a graphical representation of events/time and timelines are extremely useful as they can be analyzed quickly. Just by looking at a timeline, we can easily figure out many things.

The below screenshot gives an example of a timeline with dates and textual descriptions.


25 Timeline Ready Min


There are many ways using which you can create a timeline like the one in the above picture. But our favorite method is creating it using only MS PowerPoint. Sounds complex? Well, we would absolutely differ with your opinion. If you know what you’re doing, creating a timeline is a relatively simple process using PowerPoint. Read on, to learn how you can get this task done super fast and easy. Hope you enjoy reading!


Step 1: Launch PowerPoint and click on the Blank Presentation tile to start.


1 Blank Min


Step 2: When the blank presentation opens up, click on the slide where you want to create the timeline at.

Then click on the INSERT tab at the top. Under the group Illustrations, click on the button named Chart.


2 Insert Chart Min


Step 3: On the left pane of the Insert Chart window, click on the X Y (Scatter) tab.

Click on the first option among the Scatter chart options.

Click on the OK button.


3 Choose Chart Min


Step 4: Now you will have the option to enter the data for your chart in the excel window that opens before you.

On the X-Values column, you can enter the date values. In the example below, I have entered years in the X-Values column.

In the Y-Values column, type in the value 0(zero) in every cell as shown in the screenshot below. This is to bring all the points onto the horizontal axis.

Once you are done entering all the values, you can hit the Close button at the top.


4 Chart Values Min


Step 5: The Scatter chart will now be inserted in your slide with all the values that you entered.

Let’s now hide all the parts that we do not want in the Scatter chart and transform it into the perfect timeline that we want.

For that, click on the chart first and then click on the Plus icon associated with it. As next, uncheck all the options except the Axes checkbox.


5 Hide Elements Min


Step 6: Now, let’s get rid of the vertical axis labels as well. For that, click anywhere on the vertical axis labels and then hit the Delete key on the keyboard.


6 Hide X Axis Min


Step 7: You will now be left with the scatter chart with only the horizontal axis.

You can use the small hollow square icons present on the Scatter chart to resize it and to re-position it.


7 Resize Remove Min


Step 8: I have resized the scatter chart and moved it to the center of my slide, as shown below. You now have the basic skeleton of the timeline ready. Let’s now style it a bit.


8 Repositioned Min


Step 9: Firstly, let’s style the markers on the timeline.

For that, double click on the chart to open its format options.

Now on the right side of the window, a new section by the name Format Data Series will be open. Choose SERIES OPTIONS from the first dropdown menu.

As next, click on the Paint bucket icon under it.

Click on the MARKER tab next.

Now, expand the BORDER section and click on the radio button corresponding to the No line option. This ensures that your markers have no borders.




9 No Border Min


Step 10: As next, click on the FILL section, that’s right above the BORDER section, and expand it.

Click on the radio button corresponding to the Solid fill option.

Now, click on the dropdown button associated with the Color option and choose a color of your choice for your markers.


10 Solid Fill Min


Step 11: Above the FILL section, there will be another section named MARKER OPTIONS. Click on it to expand it and to view more options.

You can change the shape of your marker by clicking on the radio button corresponding to the option named Built-in.

You can choose a shape of your choice using the Type dropdown menu.

You can increase or decrease the size of the markers using the Size dropdown button.

That’s it. I’m done styling my markers. But you have many more options available under the same MARKER tab, if you want to add some more styles to your markers.


11 Marker Size Min


Step 12: Now that you are done with styling your markers, let’s splash some colors on your horizontal axis.

For that, firstly click on the SERIES OPTIONS dropdown button and then click on the option Horizontal (Value) Axis. Now we will be able to see all the styling options that can be applied on your horizontal axis.


12 Select Axis Min


Step 13: Once again, click on the PAINT BUCKET icon as shown below.

Then expand the LINE section by clicking on the side arrow associated with it.

You can choose a color of your choice by clicking on the dropdown button associated with the Color option.

Also, you can set the width of the horizontal axis using the Width dropdown menu.

You also have other options like Transparency, Dash type, etc, all of which you can experiment with and style your horizontal line with.


13 Line Options Min


Step 14: On the line of the Paint Bucket icon, at the very end, there will be a chart-like icon. Click on it to view the Axis Options.

Expand the section named TICK MARKS and then choose the Cross option for both the Major type and Minor type dropdowns.

You can play around with the other options as well, if you need further styling.

Once you are all done, hit the Close button at the top.


14 Cross Min


Step 15: Now, if you would like to make the year labels bolder, simply select the chart, and hit the HOME tab from the top ribbon.

Under HOME options, under the group named Font, hit the B icon for making the labels bold. You can also increase or decrease the size of year labels.


15 Numbers Bold Min


Step 16: Your timeline basics are all in place. It’s time to introduce the text boxes into your timeline.

To insert a textbox into your timeline, click on the INSERT tab at the top.

Click on the Shapes dropdown button and choose the Text box shape under the section Basic Shapes.


16 Insert Text Min


Step 17: Simply click and drag anywhere on the timeline slide to draw your text box. You can resize the textbox using the hollow square icons present at the borders. Also, you can reposition the textbox by simply clicking and dragging it to the position you want it to be at.


17 Draw Textbox Min


Step 18: You can add text into the text box by simply double clicking on the text box and then by typing in the text.

I have added the year and then added the text. For the year, I have used some styling from the HOME tab styling group Font. I have made the year text bold and have set a color for the font.


18 Year Formatting Min


Step 19: To style the text box shape, click anywhere on the shape and then click on the FORMAT contextual tab at the top under the DRAWING TOOLS options.

Now click on the Shape Outline dropdown button and choose a color of your choice for the text box borders.

You can set the width of the shape borders by using the Weight options. I have set the weight as 1.5 pt in the example below.


19 Textbox Formatting Min


Step 20: Once you have formatted one text box, you can click on it and click on the keys CTRL + D together to duplicate it. This way, you don’t need to format the other text boxes. You can just duplicate the initial one as many times as you want.


20 Duplicate Min


Step 21: I have duplicated as many text boxes as I want for all the years present in my timeline.


21 Textboxes Added Min


Step 22: If you are confused about the years that are present in your timeline, you just need to click on the timeline once and then hover over the marker on the timeline to view the year associated with it. Refer to the following screenshot for a clearer picture.


22 See Date Min


Step 23: Now we have the timeline, we have the text boxes for each of the year markers on the timeline. Let’s have the textboxes connected to the year markers now. For that, we need to use lines.

To insert a line, click on the INSERT tab at the top ribbon. Now click on the Shapes dropdown menu. Under the section Lines, you have various line options to choose from.


23 Connector Lines Min


Step 24: I have inserted a basic line.

To format a line shape, click on it first.

Then click on the FORMAT contextual tab under DRAWING TOOLS. Under Shape Outline you can choose a color for your line, and can set a width for your line as shown in the screenshot below, just like how you did it for formatting the text box.

You also have other styling options under the same FORMAT contextual tab, which you can explore.


24 Line Formatting Min


Step 25: Similarly, you can create as many lines as you like or duplicate the existing lines using CTRL + D shortcut keys.

Once you have the lines, you can use them to connect the text boxes to the year markers on the timeline as shown in the screenshot below.

That’s it. Our final timeline is ready and we hope you like it!


25 Timeline Ready Min


Please tell us in the comments section how easily you created a timeline using PowerPoint, following the steps in our article.

Stay tuned for many more hacks, tips, tricks, and how-tos! Happy Geeking till then!