How to Create a Timeline in PowerPoint: Step by Step [w/ Pictures]

By Matt Mazur · Last updated March 3, 2022

Inserting a Timeline Template in PowerPoint

To start, go to Insert > Illustration > SmartArt

Next, there will be a menu full of diagrams of to choose from. You want to click Process from the list of options:

After selecting the process menu, you will see a variety of diagrams, not all of which are timelines.

If you're using PowerPoint to create your timeline, there are only two timeline templates to choose from, the circle accent timeline and basic timeline.

The accent timeline which allows for a range of circle sizes to differentiate levels from one another. This is perfect for separating your timeline.

The second one is the basic timeline with an arrow in the middle of its design.

After selecting your basic timeline, you can choose any kind of style you want by going to Design > SmartArt Styles

This includes choosing colors for your timeline as well.

Click Design > Change Colours to add your own color scheme to the timeline:

Once you have a basic timeline design inserted in your PowerPoint, you can change its overall design by going to Design > Design Ideas:

For the sake of simplicity, we're going to stick with the basic timeline for the rest of this tutorial, but you can continue to make the same changes with a more elaborate design when creating your timeline.

Adding Events to Your Timeline

At this stage of the game, you're ready to add events to your timeline.

Add the name of your event, the date or time at which it occurred, and maybe even a brief description.

If you want to insert images, PowerPoint allows you to do that as well.

One benefit of the SmartArt designs is that you can add as many events as you would like.

However, it's important to remember that the more events you add, the smaller each one will become on your screen.

If you want to make a timeline with a lot of events, this will quickly become a problem. On the other hand, it's great for making basic timelines without a lot of events.

Each text box can be edited to your liking. This includes both position and size. Additionally, the text itself can be as well – you can change the font style, size, and color to your liking.

Is PowerPoint The Best Way to Make a Timeline?

Creating timelines with PowerPoint is fairly easy and straightforward, but creating anything more intricate than a mere basic timeline quickly becomes tedious and time-consuming.

Worse still, unless you really know what you're doing, the end result probably won't be all that great.

If you want to make great looking timelines in no time at all, you should use a dedicated timeline software tool like Preceden.

Preceden is an online timeline maker that allows you to create a stunning timeline in minutes.

Take a look at a timeline we made with Preceden:

Using Preceden, your timelines are stunning and easy to create. The best part is you can create a timeline with up to 10 events, absolutely free.

Want to include a timeline in your PowerPoint presentation?

No problem! Preceden allows you to export your timeline, so you can include it in your PowerPoint presentation anyway.

Give Preceden a try today!