How to Make a Timeline Template With Microsoft Word

By David Weedmark

To create your own timeline file that can be reused for different projects, use the template option available in Microsoft Word. After setting up the page layout and adding SmartArt or your own line shapes to the document, you can save it. Then, whenever you want to create a new timeline, just enter the new details.

Customizing the Page Layout

Before beginning your timeline template, first decide if you want the timeline to be horizontal or vertical. If you want a horizontal timeline, change the page to a landscape orientation by clicking "Page Layout" in a new blank document and selecting "Landscape" from the Orientation option. For a long timeline that you can later print, select "Size" under the Page Layout tab and change it to "Legal." Of course, if you won't be printing your timelines, select "More Paper Sizes" and change the width and height to any dimensions you want.

Inserting SmartArt

Microsoft Office 2013 has a variety of SmartArt that be used for effective timelines. To view the SmartArt gallery, select "SmartArt" after clicking the "Insert" tab. For a simple timeline, take a look at the List category. The Process category also has appropriate SmartArt for timelines, like the Process Arrows or Closed Chevron Process. The Accent Process graphic can work well for illustrating a date and an event. If you have a lot of data, consider using the Detailed Process graphic, which includes space for extra text.

Customizing SmartArt

After inserting your SmartArt, make sure it's selected by clicking it if necessary, then click Word's "Design" tab which displays a SmartArt Tools section in the tabs at the top of the window. Select the SmartArt "Design" to change colors, change to a different graphic layout, or add additional shapes. Click the SmartArt "Format" tab to quickly change the formatting to a new style or to customize the shapes and WordArt Styles as desired.

Inserting Lines and Objects

To make your own timeline from scratch, or to add to existing SmartArt, take a look at the shapes, lines and arrows available when you select "Shapes" under the Insert menu. To draw the main timeline, select a line and drag its ends to position it on the page. To add events and dates to the timeline, select any of the callout shapes, which you can connect. After inserting a shape or line, select it to reveal the Drawing Tools Format tab, which you can use to change the style, line weight and colors.

Saving Your Template

When your timeline is complete, you can save it as a regular DOCX file to use again later, or as a template file. To create a template, select "Save As" from the File menu and select any location on your computer. When the Save As dialog box opens, enter a file name and then click the "Save As Type" option and select "Word Template" from the drop-down menu. When you want to create a new timeline, select "New" from the File menu, click "Personal" and then select your template. To add text to a SmartArt shape, simply select it and start typing.