How to Make a Timeline in Excel

By Tamara Runzel

Timelines are useful tools to show significant events over a period of time. You can use a timeline in a research paper to show major events over a time in history or even as a lesson in the classroom to teach students the importance of chronological order. Students can also learn how events relate by looking at the information laid out on a timeline. You can create your own timeline with clip art, different colors and fonts using Microsoft Excel.

Step 1

Plan your timeline ahead of time. Sketch it out on a piece of paper so you can refer to it as you design the timeline in Excel.

Step 2

Open a new worksheet in Excel.

Step 3

Go to "File" then "Page Setup" and change the page orientation to landscape. This will turn your worksheet horizontal.

Step 4

Drag your cursor from the first cell to the length you expect your timeline to take up. Click "Format," "Cells," "Alignment" and then check the box next to "Merge Cells" and click "OK."

Step 5

Place your cursor in the merged cell you just created and type the title of your timeline. Click the center alignment button under alignment options to center the title. You can format the size and font for the title under the "Home" tab and the "Font" group.

Step 6

Skip down two or three rows and then enter the dates you want included on your timeline, skipping a cell between each one. Skipping a cell will help space out the dates so you can type in the information for the event and add graphics.

Step 7

Drag your cursor over the row of cells above the dates you entered to highlight them. Start at the first date and drag it over to the last date. Click the paint can under the "Font" option and choose a color for your timeline.

Step 8

Type short descriptions of the events that coincide with each date in the row below that date. You can change the size and font of the descriptions under "Home" and then "Font."

Step 9

Drag your cursor over the rows with the dates and descriptions to highlight them. Go to the "Orientation" button under the alignment option to rotate the dates and descriptions. The button is a slanted arrow with the letters "a" and "b" over it. Choose one of the options shown or click "Format Cell Alignment" to customize the angle. You can type in the angle you want or drag the line in the "Orientation" box to the angle you want.

Step 10

Go to "Insert," "Illustrations" and "Pictures" to add a graphic to your timeline. You can choose a file you have saved or go to "Clip Art" instead of "Pictures" and choose a Microsoft graphic. Once you have selected the file or clip art, click on it to insert it on your timeline worksheet.

Step 11

Click on and manipulate the corner controls around the graphic to resize the image.

Step 12

Click on the image and drag it to the location you want it on your timeline.

Step 13

Save your timeline when you finish.