How to make a timeline in PowerPoint

August 4, 2023 1.9K views

When sharing updates about your work or presenting a project report, timelines can be a great way to illustrate the sequence of events. However, creating a timeline from scratch can be a real pain and may need to look better.

That's why we've put together this guide to help you create a timeline that looks professional and is easy to make using tools like Microsoft and WPS. You can make an excellent timeline for your next presentation without wasting time using SmartArt graphics, templates, scatter charts, and text boxes.

Using a SmartArt Graphic

SmartArt graphics are a lifesaver when making diagrams, flowcharts, and other visuals for your presentation. They're super easy to use and give you many options to create a professional and impressive timeline.

With SmartArt, you can choose from various shapes, colors, and layouts to create a timeline tailored to your needs. Plus, you can easily edit and customize your timeline as needed, making it a perfect solution for anyone who wants to save time without sacrificing quality.

How to Create a Timeline Using SmartArt Graphics:

  • Navigate to the slide on your PowerPoint or WPS Presentation where you wish to include your chronology.

  • Click the 'Insert' tab and select 'SmartArt' from the options.

  • In the SmartArt dialog box, choose the 'Process' category, then select the 'Basic Timeline' layout that suits your needs. Once you've selected your preferred timeline layout, click the 'OK' button to insert it onto your slide.

  • Start adding events to your timeline by clicking on each shape within the graphic and entering the event name, date, and any additional details you want to include.

  • Customize your timeline's colors, fonts, and other design elements using the 'SmartArt Tools' tab once you've selected your timeline.

As you continue adding events to your timeline, you can resize, reposition, or duplicate shapes to ensure everything fits perfectly on your slide.

Once you're happy with your timeline, save your presentation and prepare to wow your audience! You can create a professional-looking timeline using these simple steps in no time.


  • Easy to find: You don't need to search for additional tools or software to create your timeline because SmartArt graphics are built into Microsoft and WPS. It's super convenient!

  • Variety of forms: SmartArt graphics offer plenty of options to create a timeline that fits your needs and preferences. You can pick from various shapes, colors, and layouts to create something unique.

  • Easy to operate and edit: Once you've selected a SmartArt graphic, you can easily customize it by adding or removing shapes and text. You can even alter the fonts and colors to make it seem precisely the way you want it to.


  • Limited free graphics: While SmartArt graphics come in various forms, the free options may be limited. If you're looking for more specialized or custom graphics, you may need to pay for additional tools or resources.

  • The model is rough: Although SmartArt graphics are a fast and easy way to create a timeline, they may not always look as polished or professional as a custom-designed graphic. So, keep that in mind if you're going for a high-end, sophisticated look.

Using a Timeline Template

If you need more time or design skills, a timeline template can be an excellent option for quickly and easily creating a professional-looking timeline. WPS offers a variety of timeline templates in their template store that you can download for free.

But what exactly is a PowerPoint timeline template? In short, it's a pre-designed PowerPoint slide with placeholders for text and images, allowing you to plug in your information to create a timeline.

Templates often include pre-designed shapes and graphics, making creating a visually appealing timeline even easier without starting from scratch.


  • Open the template in PowerPoint by clicking "Open" in the "File" tab and navigating to where the template is saved.

  • Customize the template by replacing the default text and images with your content. Change the design elements like colors and fonts as desired. You can also add shapes, text boxes, or graphics using the "Insert" tab if needed.

  • Save the file and insert the timeline slide into your presentation where appropriate.


  • Time-saving and efficient: Let's face it, creating a timeline from scratch can take time and effort, especially if you're not a designer. A pre-designed timeline template can save you a lot of time and effort and allow you to focus on other essential aspects of your project.

  • Large number and variety of templates: The great thing about using timeline templates is the many options. You can find templates that are simple and clean or ones that are more visually dynamic and attention-grabbing.

  • Free timeline templates: Another great thing about using PowerPoint timeline templates is that many are free. This means you can create a professional-looking timeline without spending any money. This can be especially helpful for small businesses, students, and educators who may need more money to hire a professional designer.

Create a Timeline Yourself Step by Step

Creating a timeline yourself in PowerPoint can be a great way to personalize your presentation and make it more engaging. While it may take more time and effort than pre-made templates, creating your timeline can help you better visualize your data and communicate your message more sophisticatedly.


  • Go to the Insert tab and click on Insert chart.

  • Choose a timeline layout that best suits your needs. For example, click Scatter.

  • Enter your timeline data into the graphic and make it skinnier.

  • Click “Insert” and locate the text box.

  • Insert all the information you needed for the timeline and add the lines and shapes that you wanted.

Following these steps will help you create a personalized and sophisticated timeline that effectively communicates your message.


  • Creating a timeline allows for a personalized and professional-looking timeline tailored to your specific needs.

  • You don't need to search for pre-made templates or rely on someone else's design choices.

  • By designing your timeline, you have complete control over the layout, colors, and other design elements, allowing for more creativity and flexibility.


  • Creating a timeline can be more complicated and time-consuming than pre-made templates.

  • Creating a clear and visually appealing timeline may require more design skills and experience.

  • Without a pre-made template, ensuring consistency in design and formatting throughout your presentation may not be easy.

How to Choose the Best Way to Make a Timeline in PPT?

When making a timeline in PowerPoint there are several ways to do it, each with advantages and disadvantages. To choose the best way for your needs, consider the following factors:


If you need to create a timeline quickly and only have a little time to spend on design, a SmartArt graphic or a timeline template is a good option. Both methods allow you to create a timeline in just a few clicks and are pre-designed to look visually appealing.


Using a SmartArt graphic is a good option if you only need a rough timeline for internal use. The pre-designed graphics are quick and easy to use and give a basic timeline layout.

Professionalism and Sophistication

If you need a timeline for a professional presentation or want to create a sophisticated and personalized timeline, using a timeline template or creating a timeline yourself step by step is recommended.

A pre-designed template will provide a professional look and feel while creating a timeline yourself will allow for a more personalized and sophisticated design.


Are there any other tools to make timelines in PowerPoint?

Yes, several other tools are available such as OfficeTimeline,, and iSpring. These tools can help create professional-looking timelines in PowerPoint presentations.

  • OfficeTimeline: It offers different versions, including Free, Pro, and Pro+, with varying features and capabilities. It allows you to create timelines quickly and easily, import data from Excel or Project, and customize your timeline with different styles and formats.

  • is a project management tool with a timeline feature, allowing you to create timelines and Gantt charts for your projects. It has various templates and customization options to help you create professional timelines.

  • iSpring: It is a tool that offers both free and paid versions. It allows you to create interactive timelines with different media types, including images, videos, and audio. It offers a simple drag-and-drop interface, making it easy to use.

What should I prepare before creating a timeline?

Before creating a timeline in PowerPoint, it is essential to collect and organize the information you want to include, such as dates, events, and milestones. Sorting out the information's logic can also help create a logical and coherent timeline. Additionally, envisioning the desired timeline effect can help you choose the appropriate timeline tool and customize the timeline according to your expectations.

Summary of How To Make Timeline in PowerPoint

The article discusses various ways to create timelines in PowerPoint, including using SmartArt graphics, timeline templates, and creating a timeline from scratch. It highlights the pros and cons of each method and provides step-by-step instructions for creating timelines using SmartArt graphics, timeline templates, and from scratch.

Additionally, the article mentions other tools available to create timelines in PowerPoint, such as Office Timeline,, and iSpring. The article emphasizes using WPS Office templates for creating timelines, which offers many free and professional templates.

The importance of preparation before creating a timeline is also emphasized, including organizing information and envisioning the desired timeline effect. Overall, the article provides valuable information for anyone looking to create timelines in PowerPoint and highlights the convenience and efficiency of using WPS Office Templates.

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