How to Make a Timeline on Google Docs [Step by Step w/ Pictures]

Google Docs is a powerful tool that allows its users to create and edit documents together in real time.

In addition, Docs also has a plethora of plug-ins available to improve its already impressive capabilities.

LucidChart is a web-based platform that allows users to collaborate on creating, revising, and sharing their charts/diagrams.

Conveniently enough, it is integrated with all G Suite applications, which means you can easily use it with Google Docs.

Smartsheet is another useful software that offers free and customizable Google timeline templates with plenty of awesome features.

Smartsheet templates can be edited and shared with others when used in Google Drive.

How to Make a Timeline on Google Docs

In this tutorial, we’re going to show you how to make a timeline on Google Docs using the Docs drawing tool.

It comes with basic tools like Line, Arrows, Shapes, Text box, and Image that allows you to make timelines in your doc.

First, change your Google Doc to landscape orientation from portrait to landscape. This will make your doc more user-friendly for timeline creation.

In the toolbar towards the left side of the top of the screen, select File > Page setup > Landscape to change the page orientation:

How to change docs page orientation step 1

How to change docs page orientation step 2

Next, you’ll need to create a drawing canvas with the Drawing tool.

In the top toolbar, click Insert > Drawing > + New to create a drawing canvas.

Open a new drawing window to make your timeline

A new preview window will pop up over the Doc. Now it’s time to draw an arrow for the timeline.

Depending on the direction of the timeline you want to create, draw a line using the drawing arrow tool by clicking on the end-to-end line icon then select Arrow.

clicking on the end-to-end line icon then select Arrow

choosing an arrow for the timeline

Starting at either end, click and drag the line across the drawing canvas horizontally. Ensure the line is straight, like so:

Drawing the main line for the timeline

In the toolbar, click on Line start, a tiny icon with a red arrow facing opposite to the direction of the arrow drawn.

Then, click on any arrow type that suits you in the dropdown menu. This will automatically be added to both ends. Here, the Filled Arrow was used.

You can also click on Line weight to select a larger pixel of preferable thickness.

Choosing arrow thickness for timeline

Arrow thickness example

Now, it’s time to create timeline events.

Click on the Text box icon (a small T within a square) to draw time stage labels.

Above or below the line, drag the text box to the left or right and draw the stage labels.

making timeline event text boxes

Copy and paste the first text box using your computer keyboard shortcuts. This also helps to preserve their styling and makes the event labels uniform.

Click on first Text stage label and input the time entry. Repeat this process as many times as you need to include every event in your timeline.

adding timeline events

Now, go back to the toolbar and click on the Arrow icon and select the Line tool in the dropdown menu to draw vertical lines from the event dates.

Ensure it joins with the main horizontal line. You can copy and paste the first line drawn and drag the pasted copies into position.

making lines to connect event descriptions to the main timeline

Create description stage labels by creating more text boxes in the appropriate locations.

event description text

After you’ve created all of your events, click on the ellipsis icon beside the Font icon and then click on Align to centrally align the data.

align timeline events

Go on and create other stage labels, input the data and ensure they align perfectly.

Optional: You can insert a picture into the drawing area to enhance the time descriptions by clicking on the Image icon and upload your image.

Lastly, to ensure your timeline is properly aligned, click on Action and hover on the dropdown menu to click on Guides. Then add both vertical and horizontal guides.

verical and horizontal guides

Now, click on Save and Close.

There you have it, a timeline in Google Docs!

Should You Make a Timeline on Google Docs?

Here’s an example of what you can expect from a timeline in Google Docs:

Creating a timeline in Google Docs (and making a timeline in Word, for that matter) is time-consuming, and the end result is sub-par at best.

Even with a timeline creation template, you really can’t make high-quality timelines.

If you want to create stunning timelines in minutes, it would be best to use a dedicated timeline software to get the job done.

Unlike Google Docs (which is developed specifically for text editing), timeline software is made specifically for timeline creation with their users in mind.

Preceden Timeline Maker – despite being free to use – makes creating professional timelines easy.

Check out this timeline I made in about 10 minutes:

Timeline made with Preceden timeline maker

If you want to save time and take your timelines to the next level, give Preceden a try!

Try Preceden Today for Free to Create a Timeline