How to Make a Timeline on Microsoft Word: A Step-by-Step Guide

Creating a timeline on Microsoft Word is a simple process that involves using the SmartArt feature. This feature provides a variety of timeline templates that can be customized to fit your needs. Here’s a quick overview: Open Word, go to the Insert tab, select SmartArt, choose a timeline design, and enter your data.

After completing these steps, you will have a visually appealing timeline that can be used for project planning, event scheduling, or historical presentations.


Timelines are essential tools for visualizing the sequence of events, project milestones, or historical dates. They help to simplify complex information, making it easier to understand and follow. Whether you’re a student, teacher, project manager, or history buff, creating a timeline can help to organize your thoughts and present them in a clear, coherent manner. Microsoft Word, a popular word processing software, offers a straightforward way to create timelines through its SmartArt feature.

This article will guide you through each step of the process, ensuring that even those with basic computer skills can produce a professional-looking timeline. Not only are timelines beneficial for individual tasks, but they can also enhance presentations and reports, adding an extra layer of organization and sophistication. Let’s dive into the steps and create a timeline that can impress your audience and convey your message effectively.

Step by Step Tutorial on Making a Timeline on Microsoft Word

Before we start, it’s important to note that the following steps will help you create a basic timeline. You can always get creative and customize it further to suit your specific needs.

Step 1: Open Microsoft Word

Open Microsoft Word on your computer to begin creating your timeline.

Once you have Microsoft Word open, you’re ready to start. If you’re using a template, you may have to download it first, but for this tutorial, we’re creating a timeline from scratch using the SmartArt feature.

Step 2: Go to the Insert Tab

Click on the ‘Insert’ tab on the ribbon at the top of the Word document.

The ‘Insert’ tab is where you can add various elements to your Word document, such as pictures, charts, and SmartArt, which is what we’ll use for the timeline.

Step 3: Select SmartArt

In the ‘Illustrations’ group, click on ‘SmartArt’ to open the SmartArt Graphic menu.

SmartArt provides a variety of graphic options, including lists, processes, cycles, and hierarchies. For timelines, we’ll focus on the process category.

Step 4: Choose a Timeline Design

Scroll down to the ‘Process’ section and select a timeline design that fits your preference.

There are several timeline designs to choose from, such as basic timelines, circular timelines, and more complex variations. Pick one that best represents your data.

Step 5: Enter Your Data

After choosing a design, click ‘OK,’ and the timeline will appear on your document. Type your data into the text boxes on the timeline.

Each design has a different number of text boxes, which represent different points in time. You can add or remove these as needed to match your timeline’s requirements.


Easy to UseThe SmartArt feature in Word is user-friendly and intuitive, even for beginners. It has a drag-and-drop interface for data entry, making the process quick and hassle-free.
CustomizableTimelines can be customized with different colors, fonts, and sizes to match the style of your document or presentation. You can also add additional shapes or text boxes as needed.
Professional ResultsWith SmartArt, the end product looks polished and professional, adding a touch of sophistication to any project or presentation.


Limited DesignsWhile SmartArt offers several timeline designs, the options are limited compared to specialized timeline software. You may not find a design that perfectly fits your needs.
Manual Data EntryData must be entered manually into each text box, which can be time-consuming for longer timelines with many data points.
No Automatic UpdatesIf dates or events on your timeline change, SmartArt doesn’t update automatically. You’ll need to manually adjust the timeline, which can be cumbersome for dynamic projects.

Additional Information

When making a timeline in Microsoft Word, there are a few additional tips to keep in mind. First, if you need to add more events than the template allows, you can easily insert more shapes by clicking on the timeline, going to the ‘Design’ tab and selecting ‘Add Shape.’ This will ensure that your timeline can accommodate all necessary data points. Additionally, consider the readability of your timeline; use contrasting colors and legible fonts to make sure your audience can easily follow along.

Remember that while SmartArt timelines are suitable for basic needs, if you require a more detailed or specialized timeline, you might want to look into dedicated timeline-making software. However, for most users, Word’s SmartArt feature provides a convenient and accessible way to create a timeline that will serve its purpose well.


  1. Open Microsoft Word.
  2. Click on the ‘Insert’ tab.
  3. Select ‘SmartArt.’
  4. Choose a timeline design from the ‘Process’ section.
  5. Enter your data into the timeline’s text boxes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I add images to my timeline?

Yes, you can add images by inserting them into the text boxes or adding new picture shapes onto the timeline.

Is it possible to create a vertical timeline in Word?

While most of the SmartArt timeline designs are horizontal, you can manually adjust the orientation to create a vertical timeline.

Can I save my timeline as an image?

Yes, you can save your timeline as an image by right-clicking on it, selecting ‘Save as Picture,’ and choosing your preferred format.

How do I print my timeline?

To print your timeline, go to the ‘File’ tab, select ‘Print,’ and choose your printing options, ensuring that your timeline is properly scaled to fit the page.

Can I share my Word timeline with someone who doesn’t have Word?

Yes, you can save your document as a PDF to share your timeline with someone who doesn’t have Word.


Creating a timeline on Microsoft Word is a straightforward task that can add immense value to your projects and presentations. By following the steps outlined in this tutorial, you can produce a professional-looking timeline that effectively communicates your data. Remember, the key to a successful timeline is clarity and readability, so always keep your audience in mind when designing your timeline.

Whether you’re a student, educator, project manager, or simply someone looking to organize information in a visual format, mastering the art of timeline creation in Word is a valuable skill. So, go ahead and give it a try – you might just find that making timelines becomes a regular part of your workflow.