How to Create a Timeline in PowerPoint 2022

This article shows you how to create a PowerPoint timeline depicting the Phanerozoic Era of the Earth for paleontology lessons. After reading this step-by-step PowerPoint timeline tutorial, you will be able to create a basic timeline that you can customize and design manually. In turn, if you are looking for pre-made templates to optimize time and effort, we recommend exploring the PowerPoint Timeline by SlideModel.

Check how to create a timeline in PowerPoint

A timeline is a representation of information that can be used in history, paleontology, and other studies that require the display of sequential items. It usually represents a horizontal line with segments of time. Each segment can have its own sub-elements. This article shows you how to create a PowerPoint timeline depicting the Phanerozoic Era of the Earth for paleontology lessons. After reading this step-by-step PowerPoint timeline tutorial, you will be able to create a basic timeline that you can customize and design manually.

In the end, you will be able to create a simple chart suitable for presentations or reports for your clients. Since Microsoft PowerPoint is a widely used presentation tool, the advantage is that most of the steps may be familiar to you. On the other hand, using Microsoft PowerPoint to create a timeline may lack the drag-and-drop simplicity or flexibility you need to show finer details or update the timeline regularly.

If you need to regularly create and update timelines for your slides and reports, you can use a free online timeline maker. Vizzlo offers a quick and easy to use PowerPoint plugin to help automate this process. In this tutorial, you can read how to create a timeline with native PowerPoint features and how to automatically create a timeline in PowerPoint with Vizzlo’s free online tool.

Create a basic timeline chart

If you prefer to manually create a PowerPoint timeline, you’ll need to use PowerPoint’s SmartArt tools to create a basic image and then adjust that graphic to look best for presentations. Here are the exact steps:

  • Create a new presentation or open an existing one and add a new blank slide.
  • Go to the Insert tab of the PowerPoint ribbon and click on the SmartArt button in the Illustrations section.
  • In the window that appears, select the Process category, where you’ll find a variety of graphic options to choose from for your PowerPoint timeline. For a simple chart that clearly shows the key events or milestones of a project, we recommend choosing the basic timeline.

Add your data

The default chart generated by PowerPoint will have placeholder text and only 3 milestones. You can insert your own data directly into the chart by typing in the boxes on the slide, but adding new milestones or events on top of the default 3 can be a bit tricky this way. That’s why we recommend using the Text Pane instead, as it’s faster and lets you easily add additional milestones to your PowerPoint timeline. That’s how it works :

  • If the text panel is not already visible, click the small icon to the right left of the arrow on your timeline to open it.
  • Here, type the dates and descriptions for your milestones, and PowerPoint will automatically update the chart. Press Shift + Enter to insert a line break and display the date and description of a milestone one below the other.
  • To add more milestones to your PowerPoint timeline, just hit enter after an existing item in the text pane and insert your data. You’ll notice that PowerPoint automatically reduces the text size as you add events to your timeline. To ensure that your data remains easy to read, it would be prudent to keep a maximum of 5-7 milestones. When creating your PowerPoint timeline, you may be tempted to manually increase the text size to improve readability. We suggest avoiding this as it tends to mess up the whole layout. Instead, you can expand the size of the chart area like we did before, and PowerPoint will automatically expand the milestone descriptions as well.

Customize your timeline

You can now apply some styling options if you want your PowerPoint timeline to be more unique.

  • To customize the overall look of your timeline, you can modify SmartArt styles and color palettes from the SmartArt Design tab of the ribbon. In our example, we chose a darker color scheme from the Edit Colors drop-down menu and selected Vivid Effect from the Styles menu to make the milestone circles stand out a little better.
  • Although the SmartArt features apply to the entire chart, you can also customize individual elements to create a more unique PowerPoint timeline. To do this quickly, right-click on any element and use the formatting options that appear to change its style. For example, you can use Shape Fill to highlight specific milestones or change the font color of dates to better differentiate them from milestone descriptions.
  • Now, to make it easier to track milestones, you can use drag and drop to shrink the arrow shape slightly and bring the circles closer to their corresponding descriptions. It may take some time to find the perfect placement, but it will help guide your audience’s eye as they view your timeline in PowerPoint.
  • Finally, you can also play with the sizes and shapes of landmarks to achieve a more unique image or draw attention to key facts. To do this, select the objects you want to customize, and using the options on the Format tab, you can quickly resize them or change them to other shapes.

Final Words: How to Create a Timeline in PowerPoint

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