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How to create a timeline in Excel

How to create a timeline in Excel

A quick tutorial for making project schedules in Excel

There are several easy ways to create a timeline in Excel. You can use the built-in SmartArt feature to create a timeline graphic in a variety of styles. Or select a pre-made timeline template if you’re creating a more complex timeline. You can also add a timeline to a pivot table or create your own timeline from scratch. This wikiHow will show you how to create a timeline in Microsoft Excel.

[Edit]Things you have to know

  • Gonna Insert > Illustrations > SmartArt > Process to create a timeline graph.
  • Or, create a new workbook and search for “timeline” in the template search bar.
  • Add a timeline filter to a pivot table by going to PivotTable Analysis > Insert Timeline.


[Edit]Using SmartArt

  1. Click on the tab. This will open the Insert toolbar.[1]
    Create a timeline in Excel Step 1 Version 5.jpg
    • SmartArt is a built-in Excel function that creates a graphic layout to which you can add data. It does not transform your existing data.
  2. Click on . It’s on the Illustration tab of the Insert toolbar.
    Create a timeline in Excel Step 2 Version 5.jpg
    • If you don’t see this option click Illustrations first on the toolbar.
  3. Click on the sidebar. This will filter the SmartArt options to show only the timeline and graphics related to the process.
    Create a timeline in Excel Step 3 Version 5.jpg
  4. Select the Basic Timeline chart and click . It’s a right arrow with three circles. This is a good option for linear timelines and general milestones. Once you click OKyour timeline graph will appear on your worksheet.
    Create a timeline in Excel Step 4 Version 5.jpg
    • If you’re having trouble finding this option, click on each of the charts to see their names.
    • You can adapt other process charts to use as a timeline. To view the name and description of each chart, click its icon in the selection menu.
  5. Add text to your graphic. By default, the basic timeline chart starts with three text locations. Click on each instance of [Text] and replace it with your own.
    Create a timeline in Excel Step 5 Version 5.jpg
    • To add top level bullets, select a bullet and press . The timeline chart will automatically create another pie chart on the arrow.
    • To create sub-bullets, select a bullet and press . This will allow you to add bullets below the top level headings.
  6. Click on the tab to edit your timeline. There are a variety of options to make your timeline stand out! Here are some things to try:
    Create a timeline in Excel Step 6 Version 5.jpg
    • Change the design. Click on different designs in the “Designs” section. This will keep the text you’ve already entered, so you can easily see the different options.
    • Change the style. Click through several styles to find the one that best suits your presentation.
    • Change the colors. Click change colors to see a dropdown menu with different color palettes.

[Edit]use a template

  1. Open Excel and click . This is a button on the left sidebar next to a paper icon. Using a template is easy, as many versions of Excel come with pre-built formats. You can also download user-created templates from the Internet.
    Create a Timeline in Excel Step 7 Version 5.jpg
    • If you prefer to work in PowerPoint, you can create a milestone roadmap in that app.
  2. Type “timeline” in the search box and press . The search box is located below the “Blank Workbook” button. It has the text “Search templates online” next to a magnifying glass.
    Create a Timeline in Excel Step 8 Version 5.jpg
    • In earlier versions of Excel, you’ll see a section called “Available Templates” instead of the “Search Templates Online” search box.
    • Some versions of Excel will display a New from template button.
    • If your timeline tracks the progress of a branching project with many tasks, consider looking into “Gantt chart” templates instead.
  3. Click on a template to select it. You will see a list of templates after searching for “timeline”. Clicking on a template will open a window with more information about it.
    Create a Timeline in Excel Step 9 Version 2.jpg
  4. Click on . This will open the template as a new Excel file. You are ready to start editing the template!
    Create a timeline in Excel Step 10 Version 2.jpg
    • Click on the objects to select them. You can move the object by clicking and dragging it. Click on the Format to edit the color, outline, and text style of the shape.
    • Double-click the template text to change the text.
    • Some templates will have help text when you click on the objects, providing more information about that section.

[Edit]Use a pivot table

  1. Open the spreadsheet that has a pivot table. To automatically generate a timeline, your data must be organized in a pivot table. You also need the PivotTable Analysis menu, which was introduced in Excel 2013.[2]
    Create a timeline in Excel Step 11 Version 2.jpg
    • This method is great for filtering data by time and creating a dynamic timeline. Pivot tables are a useful way to quickly view your information in new ways. There are many interesting tricks in Excel!
  2. Click anywhere inside the pivot table. This will bring up the “PivotTable Analysis” tab on the top ribbon.
    Create a timeline in Excel Step 12 Version 2.jpg
  3. Click on . This will open a toolbar with options for manipulating the data in the table.
    Create a timeline in Excel Step 13 Version 2.jpg
  4. Click on . A dialog box will appear showing the fields that correspond to a date format. Please note that dates entered as text will not be recognized.
    Create a Timeline in Excel Step 14 Version 2.jpg
  5. Select the corresponding field and click . A new box will appear allowing you to navigate through your timeline.
    Create a timeline in Excel Step 15 Version 2.jpg
  6. Click the down arrow next to date type. This will open a dropdown menu that will allow you to change the filter scale to years, quarters, months, or days.
    Create a Timeline in Excel Step 16 Version 2.jpg
  7. Click on a section of time to filter by that selection. For example, if you set the date type to months and click the NOV section, your PivotTable will display only data for November of the selected year.
    Create a Timeline in Excel Step 17 Version 2.jpg
    • You can expand your selection by clicking and dragging the gray handles that appear next to the selection.

[Edit]Using a basic spreadsheet (any version)

  1. Write the milestones of your timeline in one column. You can name the column header “activity” or “delivery”.
    Create a timeline in Excel Step 18.jpg
    • This method uses the spreadsheet cells to create and format your own timeline. This is a good method if you’re just sharing this information with your team, rather than presenting it.
  2. Fill in the start and end dates for each milestone. This may just be an estimate if you don’t already have the exact dates. After this, you will be done with the basic format! You can edit the font, colors, and borders as needed. You could even add a line chart if you have data you want to include alongside the timeline.
    Create a timeline in Excel Step 19.jpg
    • Create a start and finish column next to the milestone title column.
    • Write the start and end dates for each milestone on your timeline.
    • You can also create a notes column to include information about each milestone.



  • You can also use PowerPoint to make timelines. It has more chart options, allowing you to customize your chart in more detail.
  • If you’re looking for more Excel tips, check out how to use VLOOKUP and our IF function tutorial.

[Edit]Related WikiHows

  • Create a calendar in Microsoft Excel
  • Create pivot tables in Excel


  1. https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/create-a-timeline-9c4448a9-99c7-4b0e-8eff-0dcf535f223c
  2. https://support.office.com/en-AU/Article/Create-a-PivotTable-timeline-to-filter-dates-d3956083-01be-408c-906d-6fc99d9fadfa


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