How to create a timeline in powerpoint

Timelines and presentations go hand in hand. One of the best ways to tell a story in your presentation is to give your audience a timeline that connects the past to the present.


As you compose your story, share important events that brought you to the present moment. Timelines can also bridge the gap into the future; Explaining important past events can help you explain why a decision you have reached or chose a new direction.


A timeline like the one in the Motagua PowerPoint theme is ideal for pulling an audience through a series of events over time.

PowerPoint is synonymous with presentations, and it’s no surprise that you can create a schedule using its features. This tutorial will teach you how to create a timeline with multiple events right inside PowerPoint.


I’ll walk you through creating a timeline from scratch that fits your content using PowerPoint’s SmartArt features. We’ll also see how to use a custom PowerPoint theme to quickly create a professional timeline.

We also have a useful giveaway for this tutorial. Before reading on, download our FREE eBook: The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations, which will help you write, design, and deliver the perfect presentation.


How to Quickly Create a Timeline in PowerPoint (Watch & Learn)

In this quick two minute screencast video, I’ll teach you an easy way to add a timeline to your PowerPoint slides. You’ll learn to use SmartArt to add a timeline with points for key dates. The timeline is easy to edit, so if your points change, you can adjust your timing without having to start over.


We’ll also take a look at using a great PowerPoint template to quickly add a unique timeline to your presentation.



If you want a detailed guide to building two different timelines, check out the written tutorial with screenshots below.


Create Your Own Timeline in PowerPoint

You can create your own timeline in PowerPoint using the SmartArt feature. SmartArt is a PowerPoint feature that helps you create schematics and graphics, but adapts them to your content.


Instead of creating charts and graphs in other apps and bringing them into PowerPoint, you can create them in PowerPoint with the SmartArt feature.


To get started, go to the Insert menu on PowerPoint’s ribbon, and find the SmartArt option. Please click this option to start adding your own SmartArt to your presentation.


Insert SmartArt in PowerPoint


Find the Insert tab on PowerPoint’s ribbon and select SmartArt to add a timeline.

In the SmartArt window, you can choose from a variety of different designs for your timeline. There’s one custom built-in design for timelines, called Basic Timeline that I’ll be using for this example.


Choose Basic Timeline if you want to follow me in this tutorial. There are other styles for SmartArt that can also be used for the timeline which you can see in the image below; anything that resembles an arrow with points next to it is ideal for use as a timeline.


PowerPoint Timeline SmartArt Graphic

There are many options for PowerPoint timelines, but I usually go with the Basic Timeline SmartArt option.

Once you find the Basic Timeline, click OK to add the template to your slide and start adding your timeline to the slide. A SmartArt timeline is a single object that you can combine with other elements such as photos, text boxes, and more to create full slide designs.


Basic Timeline Placed in PowerPoint Slide

When you work with SmartArt, you will have a text box on the left side so you can add new bullet points to the slide.

SmartArt adjusts shapes and graphics as you change the text in the box on the left. Each bullet point is a new key point on the timeline itself. You can press Enter on the keyboard to add a completely new point in your new PowerPoint timeline

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