Set up your canvas
Set up Word, and create a canvas on which to build your timeline.
- On the View tab, select the Ruler and Gridlines check boxes to help you lay out elements.
- On the Page Layout tab, click Orientation, and then click Landscape. This gives you a large horizontal workspace.
- Click Themes, and then select a pallet of colors, fonts, and effects that complements the look you’re going for. For our example, the Pushpin theme has a nice range of organic colors that help create a Jurassic period feel.
- On the Insert tab, click Shapes, and then click New Drawing Canvas. Expand the canvas to the size and shape you want. By building the timeline on the canvas, you can more easily lay out and format your graphic elements.
- With the canvas selected, go to the Drawing Tools Format tab, click Shape Fill, point to Gradient, and then click More Gradients.
- In the Format Shape dialog box, click Fill, and select Gradient.
- In Direction, select Linear Up.
- Under Gradient stops, click each stop marker on the gradient line to select colors and brightness levels, and then adjust the positions of the stops to create the gradient background you want on the drawing canvas. You can see the result on the canvas as you change the stops.
Tip: It often appears more natural to place darker shades on the bottom of the image.
Next, we’ll use many of the same techniques to add, position, and format the elements that make up the timeline graphic.
Add the timeline
- On the Insert tab, click Shapes, select the rectangle, and then draw a very narrow rectangle across the top of the lower third of the canvas.
- On the Drawing Tools Format tab, click Shape Outline, and select No Outline.
- Click Shape Fill, point to Gradient, and then click More Gradients.
- In Direction, select Linear Right.
- Configure the stops so that the color blends from dark to light green. In this way, we use shades of color to represent the progression of time—as time progresses the color gets lighter. If we wanted to show how the planet was cooling during this era, the timeline could change gradually from red to blue.
Add timeline labels
The time span is divided into the three Jurassic period epochs, which we will label under the timeline.
- On the Insert tab, click Shapes, and select the text box.
- Draw a text box under the right third of the timeline, and type a label.
- On the Drawing Tools Format tab, click Shape Outline, and select No Outline. Then, click Shape Fill, and select No Fill.
- Select different parts of the text, and, on the Home tab, modify the font size or color. In this case, we’ll use white or a light green color and make the epoch name larger than the year numbers.
- Click the border to select the whole text box, make two copies, and position them under the remaining two-thirds of the timeline. Then, replace the text.
Add a title
- Draw a large text box in the top third of the canvas, and type the title.
- On the Drawing Tools Format tab, turn off the Shape Outline and Shape Fill.
- Select the text, increase the size to approximately 36 points, and then center it.
- On the Drawing Tools Format tab, in the WordArt Styles group, click Quick Styles, and then select a style. In our case, we went for a slightly dangerous look with all capital letters, a gradient green fill, and reflection.
- Select the subtitle text, and, on the Home tab, decrease the font size a bit.
- We also expanded the spacing between the characters of the subtitle, by clicking the Font dialog box launcher, and, on the Advanced tab, changing Character Spacing to 5 points.
- Locate a picture on an Internet site that you want to use, right-click the picture, and then click Copy.
- With the drawing canvas selected, press Ctrl+V, and the picture is inserted in the canvas. Make sure the picture is pasted inside the canvas. If you cannot drag it outside the canvas border, it is pasted properly and will work together with the other elements in the layout.
- Resize the picture, and move to the proper position in the timeline.
- The picture we chose has a white background, which does not work well with our nice gradated background. So select the picture, click the Picture Tools Format tab, and then click Remove Background. Word analyzes the image and displays a magenta color to show areas of the picture to remove.
- Accept the proposed settings, or use the tools on the ribbon to mark additional areas to remove or keep.
- Repeat steps 1 through 5 to insert more pictures.
- Let’s add one last touch. All of our animals are facing to the left. Select all the pictures. On the Picture Tools Format tab, click Rotate, and then select Flip Horizontal. Doing this helps to create the feeling that they are moving forward in time.
- Add text boxes under each animal, and type labels.
- Select the Line shape, and draw lines between the timeline and each label.
- Select all of the lines, and then, on the Drawing Tools Format tab, click the Shape Styles dialog box launcher, and change the width and color of the lines.
- Finally, use the Gridlines and Ruler to help you align all of the elements.