Quick Guide to Create a Timeline in Excel and Its Great Alternative

Jade MoralesJul 28, 2022How-to

A timeline refers to the chronological order of events. It is used to record events and relevant details about an organization, institution, or person's life. Moreover, it marks off the important dates and events along the way from the beginning to the end of a period of time. You need this type of diagram for academic and business purposes.

Timelines are a great way to visualize the milestones, assignments, accomplishments, and even goals in the future. In other words, its scope is not only the events carried out but also the assignments to fulfill in the future. You can get this done using one of your project management tools. This article will teach you how to make a timeline in Excel to cut the chase. Also, you will learn about an excellent alternative for creating a timeline. Continue reading to get the necessary information.

Create Timeline in Excel

Part 1. How to Make a Timeline in Excel

There is more to Excel than meets the eye. Living by its name, it excels in many ways, especially in storing, managing, and computing data. What is more, it helps in creating illustrations in presenting projects. It comes with a SmartArt feature that facilitates making various representations of data and information. More importantly, you can find timeline templates here to make an Excel timeline graph that best fits your requirements.

All you have to do is add your information to your chosen template, change the fields, and modify the diagram as necessary. Below are the step-by-step procedures you may follow to build a timeline in Excel.


Launch Excel and open a new spreadsheet

First of all, download and install Microsoft Excel on your computer. Launch the timeline creator and open a new spreadsheet.


Select a template

On the ribbon of the app, navigate to the Insert and access the SmartArt feature. Then, it will open a dialog box. From here, you will see different templates for types of diagrams. Select the Process section and choose the Basic Timeline as the recommended template. Optionally, you can explore some templates as per your need.

SmartArt Feature

Add events to the timeline

After choosing a template, a Text Pane will pop up. On the Text Pane that will show up, add events and label the events by typing the name of the occurrence. Add events according to your needs and label them accordingly.

Select Template

Modify the timeline

After inputting your information into the text pane, you can change the look or appearance of your timeline. On the SmartArt Tools, you can explore through the Design and Format tabs. From these tabs, you can modify the font style, design of the diagram, etc. Finally, save the file as you would typically do when saving an Excel file. That is just how to build a timeline in Excel easily.

Modify Appearance

Part 2. Best Alternative to Excel on Making a Timeline

One of the most functional programs you should consider using is MindOnMap. It is a free web-based chart and diagramming program to create various infographics, including a timeline. There are a handful of themes and templates that are highly customizable, and make them your own by edit. Alternatively, you can create various kinds of diagrams from scratch without using a template.

More than that, you can export the file to formats like JPG, PNG, Word, and PDF files. By the way, you can insert a timeline in Excel by exporting the file to SVG, which is another format supported by the program. Besides, you can add icons and figures to make an eye-catching timeline. On the other hand, follow the tutorial below to learn how to create a project timeline in this Excel alternative.

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Free Download

Secure Download


Access the program

To get started, visit the website to access the tool immediately. Now, open a browser and type in the program's name on the address bar. Then, enter the main page. From the main page, click the Create Your Mind Map button.

Access MindOnMap

Select a template

After that, you will get to the template section. From here, select a layout or theme for your timeline. We will use the fishbone layout as a timeline for this specific tutorial.

Timeline Selection

Start creating a timeline

Add nodes by selecting the Main Node and clicking the Tab key. Insert nodes as many as you like or according to your requirements. Edit the text and label the events. You can insert icons or images according to your liking. Also, you can alter the style of the timeline.

Style Timeline

Save the created timeline

To save the timeline you made, click the Export button at the top right corner of the interface. Next, select a format according to your needs or requirements, and you are done. Optionally, you may share the diagram to your colleagues and friends. Simply click the Share button and copy the link. Then, you could send it to someone.

Save Timeline

Part 3. FAQs on Creating a Timeline in Excel

What are the types of timelines?

Timelines have a variety of kinds for different purposes. There is vertical, horizontal, roadmap, historical, biological, and a lot more to name a few. There are timeline diagrams for marketing needs, creative projects, students, project implementation, company’s needs, and career path.

What is the timeline in a business?

Timelines can help make a timetable for business. Using this diagram, you can set out milestones for your business projects. It could contain information like the number of locations, employees, revenue, sales target, and expected date to be reached.

What is the best application to make a timeline?

You can employ various kinds of timeline programs such as SmartDraw and Lucidchart. Yet, if you are just starting, you can begin with easy-to-use apps like the MindOnMap. Whether you are a student, professional, or teacher, this could be of great help.


As you may have read, learning how to create and how to use a timeline in Excel is not that complicated. This post will serve as your guideline. So, whenever you want to make a timetable or historical timeline of a project, you can refer to this post. On the other hand, convenience is one of the main criteria for everyone when choosing the best program for creating a timeline. That is the reason why we provided you with the best online diagram maker to your benefit. Yet, if you do not have access to the internet, you can always rely on Excel. On that note, we reviewed both Excel and an alternative - MindOnMap.

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