How to Create a Timeline in Excel

Timelines can be applicable and highly useful in many scenarios, particularly in project management. Plotting a project from its start date all the way to its culmination can be achieved in a variety of ways using basic Microsoft Office applications. PowerPoint and Excel are perfect tools that will help you create a project timeline faster and more efficiently. The latter has predesigned spreadsheets that are free and customizable. Follow the instruction guide below to learn how to use these ready-made timeline templates. how-to-create-a-timeline-in-excel

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  • For Windows: Click on New, then type in ‘timeline’ in the search bar. Choose a timeline template and click Create.
  • For Mac: Go to New and type ‘timeline’ in the search bar. Pick a template to edit then select Create.

How to Make a Timeline Using Templates in Microsoft Excel

Creating a project timeline can be pretty straightforward if you use a predesigned template. The guide below is applicable to most versions including MS Excel 2019 and MS Excel 2010.

1. Open Microsoft Excel and select New from the menu. Type ‘timeline’ using the search bar and browse the available templates.


2. Once you have decided on a template, click the Create button.


3. Start modifying the template by clicking the cells and editing the text inside it. In the work plan template below, the timeline is divided into four phases. You can rename any of the phases and input your own activities accordingly. Add and delete activities by inserting or removing rows as needed.


Note: If you find the template collection in Microsoft Excel to be lacking or it fails to meet your needs, also has editable Excel timeline templates for your use.

4. You can change the overall look of your table by clicking the table on the spreadsheet then selecting Table Design from the menu bar. Customize the table color and style to whatever suits your needs.


5. After editing, save your Excel file. You can choose to print your timeline or send it to your team members.

How to Create a Timeline for Mac Using Microsoft Excel

If you are a Mac user, there are several templates available for use as well. Simply follow the quick guide below to get started. The guide applies to most versions including MS Excel for Mac 2011 and MS Excel for Mac 2016.

1. Start by clicking the New document icon. In the search bar on the upper right corner, type ‘timeline’. Choose a template and click Create. 


2. Proceed by inputting the necessary details. The sample template below makes it easy to monitor project milestones. To adjust its timeline, simply change the data under Project Details. Edit the date, milestone, and position columns. The graph above will automatically reflect any changes made.


3. When you are satisfied with your edits, save the Excel file. Because the nature of a timeline is fluid and ever changing, you may have to constantly update your spreadsheet and apply any necessary changes.

Note: Spreadsheet details may vary, depending on the template you choose. It is up to you to choose a template that suits your professional or personal needs.