How to Create a Timeline in Word A Comprehensive Guide

November 10, 2023 1.1K views

Creating a timeline within Word offers a dynamic way to organize your projects and plans. Unlike traditional methods, Word timelines let you effortlessly input details into structured diagrams, ensuring clarity and easy customization. This guide walks you through crafting impressive timelines, utilizing templates, and exploring the advantages of using Word. Find out where to access free templates and enhance your timeline-making process.

What is a timeline in Word?

timeline in Word

A timeline in Word is a visual representation of events, milestones, or tasks arranged chronologically. It's a powerful tool that helps you present complex information in a clear, easy-to-understand format. With timelines, you can showcase the progression of a project, historical events, or any sequence of events over time.

A timeline in Word enables you to:

  1. Organize Information: Complex information becomes more manageable when organized on a timeline. It helps you identify patterns, overlaps, and gaps in your data.

  2. Highlight Milestones: Important milestones or events are visually emphasized, making them stand out for better focus.

  3. Track Progression: Easily track the progression of events from start to finish, providing a clear understanding of the overall timeline.

  4. Communicate Effectively: Timelines simplify communication by presenting information visually, which is often easier for others to grasp quickly.

Creating a timeline in Word is a straightforward process. You can utilize shapes, lines, labels, and other formatting tools to customize your timeline according to your needs. By inserting dates, events, or tasks, you can illustrate a comprehensive overview of your subject matter.

Download Timeline Templates for Free

When it comes to creating timelines, utilizing ready-made templates can save you time and effort. Here are three excellent platforms where you can find free timeline templates and the advantages they offer:

  • WPS Templates store many different kinds and functions of templates for everyone. You can find templates for Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other office programs.

WPS Templates store

  • Canva is a free to use online graphic design tool. Use it to create social media posts, presentations, posters, videos, logos, and more. Canva has a large library of timeline templates that you can customize to your needs.

Canva website

  • has beautifully designed, easily editable templates to get your work done faster and smarter. Simply browse, search, save, and download templates. website

To find free timeline templates, you can do a quick online search. Be sure to read the terms of use for each website before downloading any templates.

Here are some of the advantages of using free timeline templates:

  • They can save you time and money.

  • They can help you create a professional-looking timeline.

  • They can give you a starting point to create your own custom timeline.

If you are looking for a free timeline template, I  recommend WPS Templates because it offers a wide variety of free timeline templates for Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other office programs. You can also find templates for other purposes, such as calendars, brochures, and presentations.

How to Create a Timeline in Word

Creating a timeline in Word is a powerful way to visualize your project's progress and milestones. In this tutorial, we'll guide you through the process, complete with images and examples. Let's get started:

In this example, we'll guide you through creating a simple project timeline using Excel. Let's imagine you're planning a marketing campaign with key milestones over a span of three months.

Step 1: Set Up Your Excel Sheet

  1. Open Microsoft Excel and create a new worksheet.

  2. Label the first column as "Milestone" and the second column as "Date."

Open Microsoft Excel

Step 2: Enter Your Milestones

  1. In the "Milestone" column, input the names of your milestones, starting with the project's kickoff.

  2. In the "Date" column, input the corresponding dates for each milestone.



Project Kickoff


Campaign Research


Content Creation


Design & Review


Launch Campaign




Step 3: Calculate Time Intervals

  1. In the third column, label it as "Days Elapsed."

  2. In the first cell of the "Days Elapsed" column (below the header), enter the formula: "=B2-B$2".

  3. Drag this formula down to calculate the days elapsed from the project kickoff for each milestone.

Calculate Time Intervals

Step 4: Create a Gantt Chart

  1. Select the cells in the "Milestone" and "Days Elapsed" columns for all the milestones.

  2. Go to the "Insert" tab and choose a bar chart (bar graph).

  3. Your Gantt chart will be created with the milestones along the horizontal axis and the days elapsed along the vertical axis.

Create a Gantt Chart

Step 5: Customize the Chart

  1. Double-click on the chart elements to format them. You can adjust colors, fonts, and labels to enhance the visual appeal.

  2. Add a title to your chart to provide context.

Customize the Chart

Step 6: Save and Share

  1. Save your Excel sheet.

  2. You can now print your Gantt chart or share it digitally with your team.

This Excel timeline example showcases your project milestones, their corresponding dates, and the days elapsed. The Gantt chart visualizes the timeline, helping you and your team better understand the project's progression.

Here are some additional tips for creating a timeline in Word:

  • Use consistent formatting throughout your timeline. This will make it look more professional and easy to read.

  • Use images and icons to make your timeline more visually appealing.

  • Add a title and labels to your timeline to make it easier to understand.

  • You can also use a table to create a timeline. This is a good option if you have a lot of information to include.

Best Free Alternative to Microsoft Word - WPS Office

WPS Office logo

WPS Office is a free and open-source office suite that is a great alternative to Microsoft Office. It includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software, and a PDF reader.

  • Download for free: WPS Office offers a free version with most essential features. You can also upgrade to a paid version for more features.

  • Compatibility: It maintains full compatibility with Microsoft Excel features, formulas, and macros. This means that you can open and edit Microsoft Excel files in WPS Office without any problems.

  • Features: WPS Office includes a wide range of features, including:

  • A powerful word processor with a variety of formatting options

  • A spreadsheet program with advanced formulas and functions

  • A presentation program with a variety of templates and layouts

  • A PDF reader with annotation and editing capabilities

  • Ease of use: WPS Office is easy to use and has a user-friendly interface. It is a good choice for people who are looking for a free and easy-to-use alternative to Microsoft Office.

Here are some other free alternatives to Microsoft Word:

  • Google Docs

  • LibreOffice Writer

  • AbiWord

  • OpenOffice Writer

When choosing a free alternative to Microsoft Word, it is important to consider your needs and requirements. If you need a word processor with all the bells and whistles, then WPS Office is a good option.

WPS Office- Free All-in-One Office Suite
  • Use Word, Excel, and PPT for FREE, No Ads.

  • Edit PDF files with the powerful PDF toolkit.

  • Microsoft-like interface. Easy to learn. 100% Compatibility.

  • Boost your productivity with WPS's abundant free Word, Excel, PPT, and CV templates.

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Algirdas Jasaitis

FAQs about how to create a timeline in word

  • Can I Make a Vertical Timeline in Word?

You can create a vertical timeline in Word, although it requires a bit of manual arrangement. Here's a simplified guide:

Step 1: Open a New Document: Open Microsoft Word and create a new document.

Step 2: Insert Text Boxes: Use text boxes to list your timeline events vertically on the page.

text box

Step 3: Add Lines: Insert vertical lines connecting the events. Use the "Shapes" tool and choose straight lines.

Add Lines

Step 4: Label Milestones: Next to each event, add text boxes to label them.

Step 5: Customize Design: Format lines, shapes, and text to match your design preferences.

Step 6: Save and Share: Save your document and share your vertical timeline.

While Word isn't tailored for vertical timelines, this method can yield basic vertical timelines. For more advanced options, consider using specialized timeline tools.

  • How do I create a timeline format?

Creating a timeline format involves organizing events in a visual sequence. Here's a concise guide:

Step 1: Choose Your Format: Decide if you want a horizontal, vertical, or other layout.

Step 2: List Events: Place events in chronological order along the format.

Step 3: Add Time Indicators: Label time intervals to show progression.

Step 4: Visual Elements: Include icons, images, or symbols for events.

Visual Elements

Step 5: Label and Connect: Describe events briefly and use lines if needed.

Step 6: Consistency: Use consistent fonts and colors for a polished look.

Step 7: Review: Check for accuracy and clarity.

Step 8: Save and Share: Save your timeline and share it with others.

Tailor this process to your needs for effective timeline creation.

  • What is the best way to display a timeline?

The best way to display a timeline varies based on your content and audience:

  1. Linear Timeline: A straightforward horizontal line for clear event sequencing.

  2. Interactive Web Timeline: Online tools like Tiki-Toki let users explore events interactively.

  3. Infographic Timeline: Visualize events with icons and concise text.

  4. Gantt Chart: Ideal for project schedules with tasks and durations.

  5. Vertical Timeline: Shows events vertically, useful for longer timelines.

  6. Chronological List: Quick reference with dates and events listed.

  7. Interactive Presentation: Animated slides for engaging event reveal.

  8. Storytelling Timeline: Combines visuals, text, and multimedia for narratives.

  9. Foldable Timeline: Physical timeline for educational use.

Choose what suits your purpose, aiming for clarity and engagement.


In this comprehensive guide, you've gained the skills to construct professional timelines using Microsoft Word. From understanding the concept of timelines to exploring free template sources and step-by-step instructions, this resource equips you with valuable insights. Moreover, consider WPS Office as a versatile alternative to Microsoft Word, ensuring compatibility and enhancing your document creation process. With FAQs addressing common concerns, you're ready to embark on your timeline creation journey with confidence.

15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.