How to create a timeline in PowerPoint

PowerPoint 365
If you show historical data, it is often more informative to create a timeline chart. Several different predefined SmartArt graphics can be used for timeline charts.
This tip shows simple steps for creating a simple and informative timeline using data for Microsoft logo design changes (see
Timeline in PowerPoint 2016

You can use the similar predefined SmartArt graphic (see how to create a timeline using SmartArt):

Timeline using SmartArt in PowerPoint 2016

To create a timeline chart like this one, do the following:

   1.   On the Insert tab, in the Illustrations group, select Shapes:

Shapes in PowerPoint 2016

   2.   In the Shapes list, in the Basic Shapes group, choose the Moon shape:

Basic shapes in PowerPoint 2016

   3.   Rotate the added shape: to do that, select shape and do one of the following:

Rotated shape in PowerPoint 2016
  • Using the rotation handle in the top of the selecting border:
    Rotation handle in PowerPoint 2016
  • Under Drawing Tools, on the Format tab, in the Arrange group, select some commands in the Rotate dropdown list:
    Rotation in PowerPoint 2016

   4.   Add the rectangle shape (from the same Basic Shapes group) and position it to hide the half of the moon shape:

Two shapes in PowerPoint 2016

   5.   Subtract the rectangle shape from the moon shape (see how to combine shapes to create a custom shape):

Half moon shape in PowerPoint 2016

   6.   Add the arrow shape or the triangle shape to create an arrow:

Arrow shape in PowerPoint 2016

   7.   Select both shapes and union them. Also, you can add new small round shapes to show the different distances between milestones in your timeline:

Glossy arrow shape in PowerPoint 2016

Note: Before adding milestone labels, group all objects for arrow (when you will add pictures for milestones, you may need to change arrow by stretching a bit or just moving).

   8.   For each milestone, do the following:

   8.1.   Add a shape from Callouts (on the Insert tab, in the Illustrations group, click the Shapes dropdown list):

Collouts shapes in PowerPoint 2016

In this example, it has been used Callout: Line with No Border:

Two shapes in PowerPoint 2016

   8.2.   Right-click on the shape and choose Format Shape... in the popup menu:

Format shape in popup in PowerPoint 2016

   8.3.   On the Format Shape pane, on the Shape Options tab, in the Fill & Line group, in the Fill group, select the Picture or texture fill checkbox and then click File... button (you can also use the picture from the Internet by clicking the Online... button):

Insert file in Format Picture pane PowerPoint 2016

   8.4.   Select the file for the appropriate picture.

   8.5.   Position the shape and line of the shape:

Collouts line to shape in PowerPoint 2016

   8.6.   Add the text box with the year and positioning it to the appropriate milestone:

Timeline milestones in PowerPoint 2016

   9.   Add any other adjustments to your slide.

See also this tip in French: Comment créer une ligne du temps dans PowerPoint.

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