How to Create a Timeline in Microsoft PowerPoint


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One of PowerPoint’s charms is the ability to visually represent information by using its large library of available graphics, such as charts and graphs. If you want to create a timeline, well, Microsoft has just the thing. Here’s how it’s done.

Open your PowerPoint presentation and navigate to the slide in which you would like to add a timeline. Once there, navigate to the “Insert” tab and select “SmartArt” from the “Illustrations” group.

Smart art option in the illustrations group in powerpoint

The “Choose a SmartArt Graphic” window will appear. Here, select “Process” from the left-hand pane.

Process option in choose a smartart graphic window

A library of several different process-focused SmartArt graphics will appear. You can choose the style you like best for your timeline. In this example, we’ll use the “Basic Timeline” option.

Basic timeline smartart

Once selected, information about the SmartArt option will be displayed in the right-hand pane. When you’re ready to insert the SmartArt, select the “OK” button.

Insert smartart option

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The timeline will now appear on the slide, along with a window where you will type the respective text for the timeline.

Enter text for timeline

The text entered in the box will automatically reflect on the actual timeline.

Timeline smartart on powerpoint slide

By default, this timeline will have three bullets for you to fill out. To add more, place your cursor at the end of the last item on the list in the text window, press “Enter,” and then type the desired text. Repeat this step as many times as necessary.

Adding extra text to the timeline

The size of the text and the placement of the bullets on the timeline will adjust automatically.

timeline with extra information added

When you’re finished adding text, select the “X” button at the top right of the text window.

exit the text window

If you need to adjust the colors of the timeline to better align with the presentation, select the timeline and then click “Change Colors” in the “SmartArt Styles” group of the “SmartArt Design” tab.

Change colors of timeline

A menu will appear, displaying a large library of different color schemes for the timeline. In this example, we’ll use “Gradient Loop” from the “Accent 6” group.

Different color for the timeline

Once selected, the change will take place on your timeline.

gradient timeline example

And, of course, you can adjust the bullets and the text in the timeline by clicking and dragging each item.

Click and drag text and bullets GIF

Finally, if you ever need to add or remove a bullet from (or edit text in) the timeline, you can bring back the text edit window by selecting the timeline and then clicking the “Left Arrow” icon found on the left side of the graphic box.

Arrow for bringing back the text edit box

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