Create a timeline in Microsoft Office Word

Learn how to create a timeline using drawing tools with Microsoft Office Word.

Create a timeline

Show your students how events relate over time by laying out information along a timeline. Demonstrate progress, support themes and ideas, summarize details, and help students visualize trends. Timelines let students see and understand the big picture. Watch the video

Note: Because there are several versions of Microsoft Office Word, the following steps may be slightly different on your computer. If they are, see your product documentation to complete the steps below.

Before you begin

  1. Select a timeframe to research.
  2. Using Microsoft Internet Explorer, search the Wide World Web for information and images.
  3. To save useful Web sites to your Favorites folder, right-click the Web page and click Add to Favorites.

Tip: You may also want to save images to a shared folder to use later in the project. See the topic on Inserting Images later in this document.

Constructing your timeline

  1. Open Office Word.
  2. On the File menu, point to Page Setup, and then change the page Orientation to Landscape (this will allow more space for you to extend the timeline horizontally).
  3. On the View menu, point to Toolbars, and then click Drawing. The Drawing toolbar will appear.

    Note: The above mentioned pull down menus refer to an older version of Word which is not applicable for use with Windows 7.

  4. To create a timeline bar, click the Rectangle Tool on the Drawing toolbar.
  5. Drag your pointer to draw a long rectangle onto your screen.
  6. To change the color of the rectangle, click the arrow on the Fill Color icon, and then click the color that you want to use.
  7. To draw the timeline markers, click the Line Tool. Draw lines starting on the timeline and ending where you choose. Remember that these dividing lines should be spaced according to how long each period lasts.
  8. To adjust the width of a line, select the line with the Select Objects tool on the drawing toolbar, and then click the Line Style tool. Click the width that you want.

    Tip: To make sure that you select the line and not the rectangle, press CTRL when you select the line with the Select Objects tool.

  9. To add information, click the Text Box tool. Draw a text box on your page. Click the text box and drag it until it is the correct size.
  10. Type the name and years of the event in the text box.
  11. To hide the lines around the text box, click No Line on the Line Color tool.
  12. Adjust the font, color, and size of the text to suit your needs.
  13. Continue to add text boxes for each stage in your timeline.

Creating a Heading for your Timeline

  1. On the Drawing toolbar, click Word Art.
  2. Select a style and then click OK. In the Edit WordArt Text dialog box, type the heading for your timeline, and then click OK.
  3. Press and drag the WordArt to position the heading at the top of your page.

Teacher Tips

  • Provide a little perspective

    Timelines make for very interactive learning and research gathering for students.

Inserting images

  1. Launch Internet Explorer.
  2. Click Favorites.
  3. A list of your saved favorite sites will appear on the side of the screen.
  4. To open a site, click the link for the site in the Favorites pane.
  5. Select an image on the web page to insert into your timeline.
  6. Right-click the image, and then click Copy.
  7. Return to your Word document, right-click in the document, and then click Paste. The picture is inserted into your Word document. To adjust the size of the image, select the image and drag the resizing handles until the image is the correct size.
  8. To associate text with the image, right-click the image, and then click Format Picture.
  9. On the Layout tab, click In Front of Text, and then click OK.

    Note: Images that are pasted or inserted may have to be formatted so that they don't cover up text that you previously entered into the document.

  10. Insert a text box and a caption for the image. Using the Select Objects tool on the drawing toolbar, press CTRL, select the image, and then select the caption. Position the objects where you want them on the timeline. Use the Line tool to connect the image and caption to the timeline.
  11. Continue these steps to complete your timeline.

Adding links to images

  1. Return to the Web page that included the images you used.
  2. Right-click the URL and then click Copy.
  3. Return to the Word document where the image resides.
  4. Click the image that will be used for the link.
  5. On the Insert menu, click Hyperlink and the Edit Hyperlink dialog box will appear.
  6. Insert the URL into the Address field, and then click OK.
  7. Continue adding links to your timeline as necessary.