How to Create a Timeline in a PowerPoint Presentation

By Kathryn Hatashita-Lee

Microsoft’s SmartArt graphics enable you to list concise timeline details and apply visual interest to your PowerPoint presentation. Predesigned templates, such as a series of arrows, help illustrate your flowing timeline from start to finish. Apply the SmartArt Tools to format and style your illustration and make your project meaningful to your audience. Before you enter your text, take the time to jot down your events with a pencil and paper to help you organize the content and the order of each milestone.

Step 1

Click the "Insert" tab on the ribbon, and then click "SmartArt" in the Illustrations group to open the Choose A SmartArt Graphic box.

Step 2

Select "Process" in the sidebar to bring up the chart of thumbnails. Examples of Process include Basic Process with a left to right configuration, Vertical Chevron List with rows in one column, and Basic Bending Process with steps displayed in horizontal and vertical blocks. Double-click the preferred thumbnail to copy this template to your slide. The SmartArt Tools ribbon will display the Design and Format tabs.

Step 3

Click "[Text]" and enter your data. Edit the font by clicking the "Home" tab and selecting the preferred Font in the drop-down menu. To update the style, such as a range of color gradients, click the "Design" tab on the SmartArt Tools ribbon, select "Change Colors" in the SmartArt Styles group and then select the preferred color sample. To update the format, such as to resize the text block, click the "Format" tab on the SmartArt Tools ribbon and then select "Larger" or "Smaller" in the Shapes group.

Step 4

Click the "File" tab, select "Save" and then select a folder to open the Save As dialog box. Name this presentation, click a file location in the sidebar directory and then click "Save."

Tips & Warnings

  • Click the "Normal" icon on the lower status bar to bring up the Normal view workspace and access the ribbon's editing tools.
  • Some Office Theme slide formats, such as Two Content and Content With Caption, feature a content placeholder with six faint icons, including Insert A SmartArt Graphic. Mouse over the icon and then select "Insert a SmartArt Graphic" to open the Choose A SmartArt Graphic box.
  • Click "[Text]" in the placeholder to bring up the SmartArt Tools ribbon and the Design and Format tabs.
  • Click a text box and then point over a thumbnail from the SmartArt Styles gallery on the Design tab or the WordArt Styles gallery on the Format tab, for example, to preview this effect.
  • Press "Ctrl-A" to select all the shapes.
  • Press "Delete" or "Backspace" to delete a selected shape. Click "Save" to update your presentation.
  • Information in this article applies to Microsoft PowerPoint 2013, Small Business Premium. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.