Download Our Free Timeline Template in Word
Quickly create a timeline in Word with this free template. Enter your own project information in the text boxes, change the colors, or even choose a different timeline layout.
To learn how to customize this timeline template, scroll down to the “How to Customize Your Timeline in Word” section.
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How to Make a Timeline in Word
Although Microsoft Word is traditionally used to develop and edit copy, you can still create a visual timeline using SmartArt graphics. You can choose from dozens of timeline layouts and customize the colors to fit your project.
Before you start, we recommend changing the orientation of your Word document from portrait to landscape (go to the Page Layout tab and click Orientation).
Note: We are using Windows running Word 2013 in this example.
Select a Timeline Style
- Open a blank document in Microsoft Word.
- In the Insert tab, click SmartArt.
- You’ll see a pop-up box with different kinds of SmartArt graphics, ranging from lists to processes to pictures. You can choose any layout you like, but for this example, we’ll choose the basic timeline layout (the arrow with the dots in the middle).
Add Project Information to the Timeline in Word
- To add an entry to the timeline, you can either double-click on the [Text] blurbs in the Word document or type directly in the floating box.
- The basic timeline starts off with three timeline entries, but you can add additional events on the timeline by hitting the Enter key after a bullet point in the floating box.
- If you want to add two events on the same date, first type in the date in the floating box. Then, hit Enter and Tab to nest multiple tasks under the same date.
- To delete an entry in your timeline, simply click on the text in the floating box and hit Delete. The timeline will automatically re-adjust.
- To move tasks on the timeline, click on the task in the Word document and click the text box around the words. Drag the text box to the new location.
How to Customize Your Timeline in Word
Once you’ve added your project information and dates, it’s easy to modify the timeline. You can add a title, switch to a different timeline layout, and customize the color palette.
Add a Title
- Double-click on the header area of the Word document (the very top of the document).
- You’ll see a line appear with a little grey box that says Header. You’ll also see your cursor appear in the header area. Start typing your timeline’s title here.
- In the Home tab, in the Fonts group, you can change the font size and color. And in the Paragraph group, you can change the alignment of the text.
Choose a Different Timeline Layout
Double-click on the light blue part of the arrow.
In the Design tab, in the Layouts group, click the bottom arrow on the right side. Here, you can access all the different SmartArt graphic options. Click on the timeline layout you’d like to use.
Change the Timeline Color
- To change the background color of the timeline, click the image and in the Format tab, click Shape Fill. Select the new background color you’d like.
- To change the color of the circles, click on a circle, hold down Shift and click the other circles. Select Shape Fill again to pick the color you’d like.
- To change the font and font size of the tasks on the timeline, click on the text in the Word document and in the Home tab, in the Font group, adjust the size, type, and color.
How to Use Smartsheet to Make a Timeline
Smartsheet is a work management tool in a simple spreadsheet layout. With robust communication and collaboration capabilities, Smartsheet makes it easy to collect and organize information with your team and connect with Office Timeline to easily create a visual timeline.
Here’s how to use Smartsheet and Office Timeline:
Choose a Smartsheet Timeline Template
- Log in to your Smartsheet account or start a free, 30-day trial.
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- In the Home tab, click the Create New button and click Browse Templates.
- Search for “timeline” and select the Project with Gantt Timeline template.
- Rename the template and choose where to save it.
Enter Your Own Project Information
- You’ll see that the template is already pre-filled with sections, subtasks, and other fields. Simply double-click on the cells to delete the pre-filled copy and add your own timeline information. Use the cells titled Section 1, Section 2 and Section 3 to establish hierarchy.
- Add dates by clicking on a cell in the Start Date and End Date columns and either manually type the date or click the calendar icon to choose a date from the calendar.
- Assign tasks to certain team members in the Assigned To column and convey progress with the % Complete column. You can also flag at-risk tasks in the far left column.
- To delete or add a row, right-click on the cell and select Delete Row or Insert New Row.
Connect Smartsheet Data with Office Timeline
Connect information stored in Smartsheet with Office Timeline to visually highlight the most important parts of your project. The Smartsheet and Office Timeline integration allows you to easily create a customizable timeline and share the image with others as an image, .PDF, or PowerPoint slide.
Note: You must have Windows and PowerPoint to use Office Timeline. Mac users will need to run Office Timeline using a virtual machine like Parallels Desktop, Fusion, or VirtualBox.
- You can get a free, 15-day trial of Office Timeline, and you can download and install the trial version here. After the trial ends, you’ll need to buy a license to continue using the Office Timeline and Smartsheet integration.
- Open PowerPoint and create a new slide. Click the Office Timeline tab and select New > Import Data > Import from Smartsheet.
- Log in to your Smartsheet account and allow access to Office Timeline.
- Select the sheet you’d like to import then choose if you’d like to include or exclude certain information from your sheet.
- Office Timeline will automatically generate the timeline for you. You can then change the colors, layout, symbols, font, and more.
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