Microsoft Word is a versatile office application that offers a wide range of features and functions.

You can use it to create a variety of documentsIt is a surprise for many people when they come to know that MS Word facilitates building a basic timelineYou can also customize the timeline based on the requirements of your project.

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The original purpose of MS Word is copy editing, which means you can’t a complex timeline in it. Most users use MS Excel and PowerPoint to create visual timelines. However, in this article, we will show you how to create an easy-to-use timeline in MS Word. Remember, we are talking about the creation of a manual timeline. Read on!

How to create a timeline in Word?

First, you need to open a new document. Once done, it is important to change the orientation of the page from portrait to landscape. The purpose is to make some more space for items, which you would need to include on the timeline. To change the orientation of the page, you need to click on the layout tab and then on the Orientation button. Here, choose the “Landscape” option.

Now, go to the insert tab. Here, you need to place your mouse cursor on the “SmartArt” button, which is in the illustration section. Next, choose the “Process” category and select the type of graphic that you want to insert into the timeline. Although you have different options to choose from, we recommend going for the “Basic Timeline.”

You can try different layouts or designs for the timeline. The interesting thing is that you can change the colors, styles, shapes, and other design elements from the “SmartArt Tools” tab located on the ribbon.

How to enter data into the timeline?

After inserting the SmartArt into the landscaped document, the next step is to enter the data. To do this, click on different parts of the image or graphic, open the text pane. It is easy to update the data in the input fields of your timeline.

Inside the text pane, you need to enter the descriptions and dates for the milestones. This way, you will automatically update the graphic. To show the date of a milestone above or below the description, use the Shift + Enter keys on your keyboard to insert a line break.

Remember, MS Word can’t calculate the time intervals automatically between the dates of the milestone. Therefore, you must place the milestones at equal distances irrespective of the amount of time between them.

Likewise, you have the manual dragging option. However, the manual option cause distortion of the graphic as you tend to add more items. Moreover, if you want to insert additional deliverables or events on your timeline, you need to press Enter after the existing milestone label in the text pane.

The size of the text shrinks as you tend to add more events. This is the reason we recommend adding seven milestones at maximum to ensure that the data remains readable.

Furthermore, if you increase the size of the text manually for improving its readability, it can harm the layout of the timeline. In contrast, we recommend expanding the graphic box, which will allow the text to look larger automatically.

How to customize the timeline in Word?

After you have created the timeline and then inserted the data in it, it is time to customize it. The purpose is to make the timeline appear according to your project requirements or brand image.

So, you can change the look of the timeline by modifying its primary color theme. You can do this by simply navigating into the “Change Colors” menu. You can like to choose a unique style from the “SmartArt” section.

If you want to change items on your timeline, you can use the formatting options. These options become available when you right-click on any of the individual elements of the original timeline graphic.

For instance, it is easy to change the color of any milestone that you have added on the timeline. Also, you can use the “Shape Fill” option to change the colors of the graphics or items. At the same time, the “Font” Color option is the one that you can use to change the color of the text on any of the particular milestone graphics on your timeline.

Moreover, you can drag and drop the shape or graphic to change the width and height of the item. While changing the sizes of the boxes or circles, don’t resize it significantly. Otherwise, you will distort the text descriptions in these boxes. This will make it easier for the audience to follow the milestones on your timeline.


Although Microsoft Word is not an ideal program for making a timeline, yet, it provides enough editing options to make a basic one. We don’t recommend using MS Word for a complicated or large timeline.

After making the timeline, you can enter your data as per your requirements. Lastly, after entering the data, you can customize the timeline, change the size, shape, font, colors, effects, etc. to make it go in line with your project or company’s brand.

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