How to create a timeline using SmartArt

PowerPoint 2016
PowerPoint proposes a lot of predefined SmartArt graphics, which can help create your perfect presentation. Sure, all predefined graphics can be modified, but some modifications don't work correctly. This tip shows simple steps that can help you to modify SmartArt graphics.

Modified SmartArt graphic that shows the timeline of Microsoft logo design changes (see

Timeline using SmartArt in PowerPoint 365

To create your own timeline, see how to create a timeline in PowerPoint:

Timeline in PowerPoint 365

To create a timeline chart using a predefined SmartArt graphic, do the following:

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

Illustrations group in PowerPoint 365

   2.   In the Choose a SmartArt Graphic dialog box, on the Process tab, and then select Descending Process:

Descending Process in PowerPoint 365

   3.   For each milestone, do the following:

   3.1.   Select the shape in the SmartArt graphic, and then type your text.

Note: For best results, use this option after adding all the milestones you want.

   3.2.   Click [Text] on the Text pane, and then type your text:

Text pane in PowerPoint 365

Note: If the Text pane is not visible, select the SmartArt graphic and open it by:

  • clicking the control:
    SmartArt process in PowerPoint 365

    For this example, it had been entered six labels (the last one is empty) just for design.

  • clicking the Text pane button, on the SmartArt Design tab, in the Create Graphic group:
    Create Graphic in PowerPoint 365

   3.3.   Copy text from another location or program, click [Text] on the Text pane, and paste your text.

   4.   When you try to modify the arrow, it can be more complex and even impossible for some modifications. To avoid these problems, do the following:

   4.1.   Select your SmartArt graphic:

SmartArt timeline with milestones in PowerPoint 365

   4.2.   On the SmartArt Format tab, in the Arrange group, select the Group dropdown list and then choose Ungroup:

Ungroup in PowerPoint 365

Note: After ungrouping elements of the SmartArt graphic, you can use them like usual shapes. To avoid problems with an arrow and small circle shapes, select them all and group them again.

   5.   For each milestone, do the following:

   5.1.   Choose the shape with the appropriate year.

   5.2.   To add a picture for the shape, right-click on it and choose Format Shape... in the popup menu:

Format shape in popup in PowerPoint 365

   5.3.   On the Format Shape pane, on the Shape Options tab, in the Fill & Line group, in the Fill section, select the Picture or texture fill checkbox and then click Insert... button:

Insert file in Format Picture pane PowerPoint 365

   5.4.   In the Insert Pictures dialog box, choose the picture location, select the picture file, and then click Open or Insert:

Insert picture in PowerPoint 365

   5.5.   On the Format Picture pane, on the Text Options tab, in the Textbox group, in the Text Box section, choose the alignment of the shape text and then try different margins to position the text below the picture:

Format Picture pane in PowerPoint 365

For example, text in the first shape:

Shape with picture in PowerPoint 365

   6.   Add any other adjustments to your slide.

See also this tip in French: Comment créer une frise chronologique à l'aide de SmartArt.

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