Create a timeline

If you want to create a graphical representation of a sequence of events, such as the milestones in a project or the main events of a person's life, you can create a SmartArt graphic that uses a timeline layout, such as Basic Timeline. By using a SmartArt graphic in Microsoft Excel 2010, Microsoft PowerPoint 2010, or Microsoft Word 2010, you can create a timeline and include it in your spreadsheet, presentation, or document.

Basic Timeline

The Basic Timeline SmartArt graphic

What do you want to do?


Create a timeline

  1. On the Insert tab, in the Illustrations group, click SmartArt.

The Shapes group on the Insert tab.

  1. In the Choose a SmartArt Graphic gallery, click Process, and then double-click a timeline layout (such as Basic Timeline).
  2. To enter your text, do one of the following:
    • Click [Text] in the Text pane, and then type your text.
    • Copy text from another location or program, click [Text] in the Text pane, and then paste your text.

 Note   If the Text pane is not visible, click the control.

Text Pane control

  • Click in an entry in the SmartArt graphic, and then type your text.

 Note   For best results, use this option after you add all of the entries that you want.

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Add or delete entries in your timeline

Add an entry

  1. Click the SmartArt graphic that you want to add another entry to.
  2. Click the existing entry that is located closest to where you want to add the new entry.
  3. Under SmartArt Tools, on the Design tab, in the Create Graphic group, click the arrow next to Add Shape.

The Create Graphic group on the Design tab under SmartArt Tools

If you don't see the SmartArt Tools or Design tabs, make sure that you've selected the SmartArt graphic. You might have to double-click the SmartArt graphic to open the Design tab.

  1. Do one of the following:
    • To insert an entry after the selected entry, click Add Shape After.
    • To insert an entry before the selected entry, click Add Shape Before.

Delete an entry

To delete an entry from your timeline, do one of the following:

  • In the SmartArt graphic, select the text for the textbox for the entry that you want to delete, and then press DELETE.
  • In the Text pane, select the all of the text for the entry that you want to delete, and then press DELETE.

 Notes 

  • To add a shape from the Text pane:
    1. At the shape level, place your cursor at the end of the text where you want to add a new shape.
    2. Press ENTER, and then type the text that you want in your new shape.

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Move an entry in your timeline

  1. In the text pane, select the entry that you want to move.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • To move the entry to an earlier date, under SmartArt Tools, on the Design tab, in the Create Graphic group, click Move Up.
  • To move the entry to a later date, under SmartArt Tools, on the Design tab, in the Create Graphic group, click Move Down.
    The Create Graphic group on the Design tab under SmartArt Tools

If you don't see the SmartArt Tools or Design tabs, make sure that you've selected the SmartArt graphic. You might have to double-click the SmartArt graphic to open the Design tab.

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Change to a different timeline layout

  1. Right-click the timeline that you want to change, and then click Change Layout.
  2. Click Process, and then do one of the following:
    • For a simple but effective timeline, click Basic Timeline.

Basic Timeline

  • To show a progression, a timeline, or sequential steps in a task, process, or workflow, click Accent Process.

Accent Process

  • To illustrate a timeline with pictures or photos, click Continuous Picture List. The circular shapes are designed to contain pictures.

Continuous Picture List

 Note   You can also change the layout of your SmartArt graphic by clicking a layout option in the Layouts group on the Design tab under SmartArt Tools. When you point to a layout option, your SmartArt graphic changes to show you a preview of how it would look with that layout.

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Change the colors of your timeline

To quickly add a designer-quality look and polish to your SmartArt graphic, you can change the colors or apply a style to your timeline. You can also add effects, such as glows, soft edges, or 3-D effects. Using Microsoft PowerPoint 2010, you can also animate your timeline.

You can apply color combinations that are derived from the theme colors (theme colors: A set of colors that is used in a file. Theme colors, theme fonts, and theme effects compose a theme.) to the entries in your SmartArt graphic.

  1. Click the SmartArt graphic whose color you want to change.
  2. Under SmartArt Tools, on the Design tab, in the SmartArt Styles group, click Change Colors.

Change the color of your SmartArt graphic.

If you don't see the SmartArt Tools or Design tabs, make sure that you've selected the SmartArt graphic.

  1. Click the color combination that you want.

 Tip   When you place your pointer over a thumbnail, you can see how the colors affect your SmartArt graphic.

Change the line color or style of an entry's border

  1. In the SmartArt graphic, right-click the border of the entry you want to change, and then click Format Shape.
  2. To change the color of the entry's border, click Line Color, click Color Button image, and then click the color that you want.
  3. To change the style of the entry's border, click Line Style, and then choose the line styles you want.

Change the background color of an entry in your timeline

  1. Click the SmartArt graphic you want to change.
  2. Right-click the border of an entry, and then click Format Shape.
  3. Click Fill, and then click Solid fill.
  4. Click Color Button image, and then click the color that you want.

To change the background to a color that is not in the theme colors (theme colors: A set of colors that is used in a file. Theme colors, theme fonts, and theme effects compose a theme.), click More Colors, and then either click the color that you want on the Standard tab, or mix your own color on the Custom tab. Custom colors and colors on the Standard tab are not updated if you later change the document theme (theme: A collection of formats that determines the appearance of the controls, sections, body, and text on a data access page.).

To specify how much you can see through the background color, move the Transparency slider, or enter a number in the box next to the slider. You can vary the percentage of transparency from 0% (fully opaque, the default setting) to 100% (fully transparent).

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Apply a SmartArt Style to your timeline

A SmartArt Style is a combination of various effects, such as line style, bevel, or 3-D perspective that you can apply to the entries in your SmartArt graphic to create a unique and professionally-designed look.

  1. Click the SmartArt graphic you want to change.
  2. Under SmartArt Tools, on the Design tab, in the SmartArt Styles group, click the SmartArt Style that you want.

The SmartArt Styles group on the Design tab under SmartArt Tools

To see more SmartArt Styles, click the More button button image.

 Notes 

  • When you place your pointer over a thumbnail, you can see how the SmartArt Style affects your SmartArt graphic.

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Applies to:
Excel 2010, PowerPoint 2010, Word 2010