How to Create a Timeline in Word

In this tutorial, we will show you how to create a basic timeline manually and automatically in Microsoft Word with step-by-step instructions. However, since Word is designed as a word processor, it may not be capable enough to make a complex timeline for you.

How would you like to create your timeline?
Manually create a Timeline template in Word
Time to complete: 30 minutes

How to Create a Timeline in Word

Using a SmartArt Graphic of Timeline

Step 1 Change Page Orientation

Open a new Word document, click Layout button on the Slides group of the Home tab, and then select Blank on the drop-down menu. The slide will be blank and ready for making a timeline.

change page orientation in Word

Step 2 Insert a Favorite Timeline Graphic

Go to the Insert tab, click SmartArt button on the Illustrations group to open the Choose a SmartArt Graphic window.

Then select “Process” in the category list and there are two kind of timeline layouts in the SmartArt graphics window, which are Basic Timeline and Circle Accent Timeline.

open the smartart graphic window

Step 3 Edit Text

Here I select Basic Timeline and click OK on the dialog box. The basic timeline is inserted on the slide. Click [Text] on the graphic or click the arrow icon to open Text Pane, and then type or paste the text in the SmartArt graphic.

edit text in the timeline graphic

Step 4 Add or Delete Shapes

To add a new shape after Beta2, you need to

  1. Select the circle that represents Beta2;
  2. Click Add Shape button under the Design tab of SmartArt Tools;
  3. Select Add Shape After on the drop-down menu.

Therefore, a new circle will be added after the circle of Beta2. You can also repeat these steps and choose Add Shape Before to add a new shape.

To delete Beta2, open Text Pane and delete the text line of Beta2, thus the circle and the textbox of Beta2 will be removed from the graphic.

Step 5 Move a Shape on the Timeline

To move a shape on the timeline, you can

    1. Click the textbox that you want to move;
    2. Go to the Design tab of the SmartArt Tools, click Move Up or Move Down button on the Create Graphic group
  • To move the selected test sooner than another test (like Test1), click Move Up;
  • To move the selected test later than another test (like Test3), click Move Down.
move up/down buttons on Word

Here I choose to move Beta3 sooner than Launch and click Move Down. When you move the selected shape with a date to another place, don’t forget to modify the date and make it in accordance with your plan.

move Beta2 down

Step 6 Customize the Timeline

To change the layout of the timeline, you can select the graphic, go to Design tab of SmartArt Tools, find Layouts group and open the drop-down menu of the layout style.

layout of timeline

Then, you can pick one of the timeline or process-related SmartArt graphics that you like, click the thumbnail and the graphic on the slide will be changed instantly. In this example, I choose to transform Basic Timeline into Staggered Process.

To change the colors of the timeline, you can select the graphic, find Change Colors button on the Design tab and choose the desired color combination in the menu.

Using an inbuilt Timeline Template

The other way to make a timeline in Word is to use the inbuilt timeline template and customize the selected template to create your own timeline.

Enable Word, click File tab on the ribbon, click New on the left side pane and type “Timeline” in the search box. Then, you can double-click on the thumbnail and select one of the pre-made timeline templates in Word as the basic structure of your own timeline.

However, there are a few timeline templates available in Word. Thus, we recommend you using the first way to make a timeline in this software.

How to Create a Timeline in EdrawMax

Step 1: Select a Timeline Template

Enable EdrawMax, select Timeline under the category of “Business”, then you will see many delicate and wonderful timeline templates. You can choose one of these templates to make your own timeline.

Abundant Edrawmax timeline template

If you want to see more free timeline templates, you can visit Edraw Template and find your favorite template.

timeline templates on Edraw Template

Step 2: Make Your Own Timeline

Double-click on the thumbnail of the timeline template in the Home page of EdrawMax, then you can enter into the main interface and start to make your own timeline on the basis of the selected template.

Here is the template that I selected.

open the timeline template on EdrawMax

When you open the template, the symbols and shapes of timelines will show up on the left Library pane. So, you can use them to make new timelines or modify the current one.

Double-click on the textboxes and type text in them.

Step 3: Format Your Timeline

To change the style of the whole timeline, click the Theme icon the Theme icon in EdrawMax to open the Theme pane, select the desired theme style, theme color, connector style (if you have drawn) and font style. Once you choose one of the inbuilt theme, the style of the whole timeline will be changed.

change the theme of the timeline

Besides, when you have picked the theme style, theme color, connector style and font style in the pane, you can click the Save Theme button to make a custom theme. So, you can apply this theme to other diagrams whenever you want.

To change the fill colors, you can select the shape and click the Style icon the Style icon in EdrawMax to open Fill/Line/Shadow pane. In this case, I select the icon of the heart. Then click the color bar to open the drop-down color menu and pick the desired color.

You can change the line colors and shadow effects in the Line and Shadow pane in the same way.

change the fill color in EdrawMax

How to Save an EdrawMax Timeline as Word File

When you have created your own timeline in EdrawMax, you can save the document by pressing Ctrl + S or clicking the Save button on the upper right corner of the main interface.

the Save button on EdrawMax

Moreover, you are able to export the timeline as a Word file (.docx) or other files of common formats. Go to File tab, click Export > Export to Word, and then EdrawMax will automatically export and save your timeline in your computer as a PowerPoint file.

Therefore, it will be much easier and more convenient for you to share and transfer your timelines with anyone else, even if he or she hasn’t used EdrawMax before. Besides, EdrawMax supports users to insert watermarks on their diagrams or charts, which will protect their creation and designs made by EdrawMax.

export the timeline in EdrawMax
download EdrawMax EdrawMax online
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