Create a timeline in PowerPoint

When you need to demonstrate how something happens (or happened) between two time points, the best choice is the timeline. There are several ways to insert a PowerPoint timeline into your presentation so that you can show that progress to others.

Remark † The instructions in this article apply to PowerPoint 2016, 2013, Powerpoint for Mac, and PowerPoint Online.

  1. Insert a timeline from another program into PowerPoint
  2. Create a timeline in PowerPoint with built-in features
  3. How to make a timeline in PowerPoint with a template
  4. How to create a timeline in PowerPoint with an add-on

Insert a timeline from another program into PowerPoint

An easy way to get a timeline into your PPT file is to create it in another program and then copy and paste it into PowerPoint. Just export the timeline from a program such as MS Project or Excel to a graphic format such as JPG, GIF or PNG and paste the timeline image into PowerPoint just like you would insert clipart or images. You can also link the timeline in a similar way to adding Excel data to Word, which updates automatically when changes are made.

Create a timeline in PowerPoint with built-in features

PowerPoint also offers a built-in feature that makes it easy to add timelines. called smart art † These are customizable images that can be adjusted on a point-and-click basis.

Use one of these for the timeline:

  1. Select tab Insert on the large ribbon toolbar.

  2. Select smart art

  3. In the dialog box that appears, find the chart that best suits your needs.

    Advice † Good options are the items in the category Method For instance Basic timeline or Vertical Chevron List

  4. Select Okay to insert SmartArt into your presentation.

  5. The element appears in the editing window. For example, you can add angle brackets to: vertical frame with angle brackets by editing the markers on the left. It works just like a normal list and you can click tab and Shift + Tab indent and indent.

  6. Alternatively, you can continue to decorate your SmartArt after adding it, for example with highlights.

The SmartArt feature is less reliable in PowerPoint Online, but the most relevant types of images (as mentioned above) are there and can be used.

How to make a timeline in PowerPoint with a template

In addition, there are preconfigured PowerPoint templates that allow you to quickly put together a timeline.

In the .pptx file shown above, available in the Microsoft Office Template Gallery, you can move and copy existing objects to create new timeline stages or new steps and notes. This method is a bit more practical, but will give you exactly the results you want.

Remark † Templates can be used in all versions of PowerPoint, as long as they are in the standard PPTX format.

How to create a timeline in PowerPoint with an add-on

Another approach is to use a PowerPoint add-in made specifically for creating timelines. Office Timeline is an excellent choice if you want to add project timelines (such as Gantt charts) and it is available in a free version.

It takes a few minutes to get started by following these steps:

  1. Download the free version of the app from the Office Timeline website.

  2. Double click on the .EXE file to start the installation.

  3. When you’re done, PowerPoint should start automatically. A Quick Start Wizard is also displayed, as well as a sample file.

A new toolbar will be available after installation Office Timeline Free † It includes tools for creating new timelines, selecting a timeline style to insert, and entering/importing the data on which the timeline is based.

Remark † The Office Timeline Add-in is only available for Windows versions of PowerPoint. However, there is also Pincello, a web-based tool that outputs timelines in PowerPoint format.

Armed with the above options, you should be ready to create any type of timeline you need in PowerPoint.

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