how to make a timeline in Excel

How to Make a Timeline in Excel

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Posted by: Shannon Williams

Timelines provide you with an accessible, visual way to understand past events or form a plan. Lucidchart provides you with the tools you need to make effective and well-ordered timelines for the classroom or the conference room.

In Lucidchart, students and educators can create powerful visual aids to understand the chronology of fictional plotlines, historical events, or the natural world. But timelines don’t lose their value once you’re out of the academic setting. Project managers can replace their Gantt charts and instead use timelines to display deadlines and important milestones.

Need to pair your timeline with the rest of your data? Not a problem. Thanks to our integrations, you can easily insert your timeline into Excel or other Microsoft Office programs. If you're ready to plan ahead or study more efficiently, let’s take a look at how to create a timeline in Excel.

How to make a timeline directly in Excel

While Excel offers a few tools to help create timelines, keep in mind that it is meant primarily for creating spreadsheets, which means the process will require some time. Follow these steps to help you create your Excel timeline chart from start to finish.

1. Open and prepare your Excel document

Open a blank Excel document to begin your timeline. Click Insert > Illustrations > SmartArt > Process, and then select a timeline from the template options.

2. Enter your data in the timeline

A timeline chart will generate within Excel. Click on placeholder text to enter your project milestones, start dates, and end dates. Press “Enter” after typing in your information to start a new section of data. 

3. Customize your timeline

Excel allows you to customize both the timeline as a whole, as well as individual data points within your diagram. To change your presentation’s appearance, click on the chart, click the paintbrush icon, and then select from available timeline formats.

Note: Available formatting options will be limited depending on the version of Microsoft Excel you’re using.

Excel timeline

How to make a timeline in Excel using Lucidchart

You've seen how to make a timeline in Excel—now we'll show you how to create a completely customizable timeline chart using Lucidchart's intuitive interface and timeline shapes. Here's how:

1. Open Lucidchart

If you haven’t already, sign up for your free Lucidchart account!

2. Start with a template or blank document

Choose from one of our customizable templates included below.

Note: Some features are only available for Lucidchart Pro, Team, and Enterprise accounts. If you are interested in upgrading your subscription, see our pricing page.

example timeline
Timeline (Click on image to modify online)
example campaign event plan
Example Campaign Event Plan (Click on image to modify online)
project planning timeline
Project Planning Timeline (Click on image to modify online)

3. Use a template to fit your project, or create your own

If you’d like to build your timeline from scratch on a blank canvas, watch the video below to see the basic functionality of Lucidchart and get started.

You can also link your data from Excel to your Lucidchart document to create and update your timeline faster. Learn more. 

4. Install the Lucidchart add-on for Microsoft Excel

Go directly to the Microsoft Store, or in Excel, select Insert > Office Add-ins. Search for Lucidchart in the marketplace, and click “Add” to install. The add-on will appear as a sidebar in Excel.

5. Add your timeline to Excel

Once you’ve connected your Lucidchart account, select the timeline from your existing diagrams and click “Insert.”

Now that you know how to create a timeline in Excel using Lucidchart, you can get your life in (chronological) order. Sign up for your free account today, and see how else you can learn and work visually.

About the author

Shannon Williams profile picture

Shannon Williams graduated from BYU in English and then turned to the world of marketing. She works as a content marketing specialist at Lucid Software. Instead of writing her novel (like she should be), Shannon spends her free time running, reading, obsessing about Oscar season, and watching Gilmore Girls on loop.

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About Lucidchart

Lucidchart is the intelligent diagramming application that empowers teams to clarify complexity, align their insights, and build the future—faster. With this intuitive, cloud-based solution, everyone can work visually and collaborate in real time while building flowcharts, mockups, UML diagrams, and more.

The most popular online Visio alternative, Lucidchart is utilized in over 180 countries by millions of users, from sales managers mapping out target organizations to IT directors visualizing their network infrastructure.

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