How to create a timeline in PowerPoint

PowerPoint 2016
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 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft#Logo).
Timeline in PowerPoint 365

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

Timeline using SmartArt in PowerPoint 365

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 365

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

Basic shapes in PowerPoint 365

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

Rotated shape in PowerPoint 365
  • Using the rotation handle in the top of the selecting border:
    Rotation handle in PowerPoint 365
  • On the Shape Format tab, in the Arrange group, select some commands in the Rotate dropdown list:
    Rotation in PowerPoint 365

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

Two shapes in PowerPoint 365

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

Half moon shape in PowerPoint 365

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

Arrow shape in PowerPoint 365

    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 365

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 365

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

Two shapes in PowerPoint 365

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

Format shape in popup in PowerPoint 365

    8.3.    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

    8.4.    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

    8.5.    Position the shape and line of the shape:

Collouts line to shape in PowerPoint 365

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

Timeline milestones in PowerPoint 365

    9.    Add any other adjustments to your slide.

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

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to ask OfficeToolTips team.

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