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The technique explained on this page is particularly useful for creating historical timelines and project timelines, as well as genealogical timelines that highlight events in a person's life. If you want to start creating your own timelines right away, you can download the Excel timeline template. Get this and other bonus project management spreadsheets free when you purchase the pro version of our Gantt Chart. Begin creating timelines in Excel within minutes by downloading the Excel Timeline Template. Historical Timelines - The primary purpose of this template is to help you create historical timelines, such as events in a person's life or perhaps the history of a company or organization. Project Timelines - The spreadsheet includes two project timeline worksheets, where events can show both duration and completion status. You will also be able to download a separate project timeline file in which the axis is date-based as explained in the section "Using a Date-Based Axis" below. Adding Images - The Benjamin Franklin example is included in the spreadsheet, with instructions explaining how to insert images into your timeline.
The next step is to create a Scatter Chart with the Height values as the Y-axis (vertical axis) and the Axis values as the X-axis (horizontal axis). In the Select Data Source dialog box for Series1, click the Edit button, and in the "Series X values" field, choose cells $F$31:$F$40 and press OK. You can now clean up the chart by going to the Layout tab and turning OFF the legend, gridlines, and vertical axis.
We're going to create leader lines for the timeline by adding vertical error bars to the data series. In the Vertical Error Bars tab, select the Minus direction, the No Cap end style, and set the Percentage to 100% then press Close.
We want to turn off the horizontal error bars, so go to the Layout tab and select "Series 1 X Error Bars" from the drop-down list in the "Current Selection" group.
Repeat the previous step until all of the data labels have been linked to the corresponding cell in the Labels column. Sometimes you may want to set the x-axis to display a specific year range, such as 1700 to 1900 with 50-year intervals between the axis labels. You can add images and pictures to your timeline by selecting the chart and going to Insert > Picture.
To format a data point marker as an image: After selecting a single data point, right-click on the data point and go to Format Data Point > Marker Options and select the image icon from the Marker Type drop-down box. In Excel 2013: After the Format Data Point bar opens on the right, click on the bucket icon, and then click on the word Marker. If you are creating a project timeline, you can show the duration of an event by using X-error bars. Select the chart and go to Format > Current Selection group and select "Series 1 X Error Bars" from the drop-down list then click on Format > Format Selection.
In the Error Amount area, select Custom, click on Specify Value and then for the Positive Error Value choose the cells from your Duration column. Note: To add a Completion bar like we did in the above example, you would need to add another data series so that you can define another X-error bar. If you are want to create a timeline that uses date values after the year 1900, then you can add another "dummy" series and change the chart type for the dummy series to a Line Chart.

For additional reading: Bill Jelen does an excellent job of explaining the date-based axis vs.
You can widen the timeline chart object if you have a very long timeline and want to print it across multiple pages.
Please note: You may need to sign up for an account to use one or more of these online tools. June 4, 2014 By Ron Last week’s newsletter described how to create a static event timeline in an Excel chart. Timelines are great for project management in Excel, event management, and editorial or marketing planning. In this week’s article you’ll see how easy it is to turn that static timeline into a dynamic timeline that enables you to scroll through a database of events. Since most projects management in Excel involve a database or Excel list of events, the easiest thing to do is create a timeline you can scroll through with a scroll bar. This layout starts with the static timeline worksheet and inserts columns on the left so the first data cell is H5. The list of dates, milestones, and label heights in the range B4:E28 is also static, but it will be used as an example of a larger database for a large project. To easily keep track of the rows and columns around the source range, enter numbers along the sides of the B4:E28 as shown below. Numbering the rows and columns on the side of the list makes it easier to understand the cell retrieved by INDEX.
To see what happens if the number in K29 changes, type in values from 1 to 5 and see how the chart data updates. The only thing left to make this Excel timeline dynamic is to add a scroll bar that changes the data being charted. Now, that you have a cool Excel timeline chart you can hook it up to your Excel project management system or marketing events calendar. The first example shown below was created using the first version of my Excel Timeline Template back in 2005. If you are more worried about your budget than your time, you can create your own timeline chart from scratch using the instructions in the "how to" section below. We've set up the data tables and Excel charts for you, so you enter the Dates and event descriptions and adjust the heights of the lines to get things to fit the way you want. You can change the colors and formats of the chart elements however you want, limited only by what Excel allows you to do. It is possible to add more, but that is not a simple procedure and would require following some of the instructions below. You can use these instructions to create your own timeline in Excel from scratch, if you don't feel like downloading the template. We need to add the X-axis values, so go to the Design tab and click the Select Data button (or right-click on the chart and choose Select Data). You may also want to go to the Line Color or Line Style tabs to make the leader line a dashed gray line.
We are going to link the data labels, one at a time, to the corresponding cell in the Labels column.
The image below shows the project timeline example that is included in the timeline template.

You may also want to format the line to change the color and increase the width of the line. In this article you’ll learn how to make the timeline dynamic so you can scroll the timeline through a database of events or project due dates. But most projects or marketing plans usually involve many milestones or events stretched over six months or more. Dragging the scroll bar reads new data from the Excel list on the left into the list in the middle which is used to create the chart. The row of the cell being retrieved is in $A5 and the column number of the cell being retrieved is B$3. That would enable you to select which data appears in H5:K16 and therefore what data is charted. If you have not used Excel Form Controls before you will need to add the Developer tab to the ribbon. On the Developer tab, in the Controls group, click the Scroll Bar tool in the Forms Controls. Draw the scroll bar by dragging the mouse underneath the chart from top left to bottom right where you want the scroll bar. Clicking in the scroll bar will increment changes by 4, the amount you entered in Page Change in the Format Object dialog box. But, with a little formatting and some images, you can make your timeline look much more interesting. You can choose either the day-based axis (the labels are dates) or the year-based axis (the labels are years).
Also, the more events you want to show in a timeline, the more difficult it will be to avoid having labels overlap. Doing that can simplify the process of displaying the x-axis labels and editing the date range, but the events in the data table must be ordered by date.
So, instead of selecting the chart object and pressing Ctrl+p to print, select the range of cells surrounding the chart object and then print the selection ("Print Selection" is one of the options you can choose from the Print dialog in Excel). Showing all that data in a static timeline isn’t workable and manually updating the timeline every week or so gets to be a real pain. If you download this Excel timeline template you can hook it up to your task or event list pretty easily. Hold down the Alt key as you do this if you want the scroll bar to align with worksheet cell corners.
This page descibes a method that I developed to create timelines quickly in Excel using an XY scatter chart with events as the data labels.
You can insert images into Excel charts as well as format a data point marker so that it displays an image. Also, people have reported that this technique doesn't always work in all versions of Excel. Continue reading below to learn how to create the timeline from scratch, or save time by downloading the timeline template.

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