Create a timeline in Visio

Timelines help you plan and communicate project schedules by showing project phases and deadlines in a format that’s easy to read and understand.

To find the right template to start from, go to File > New and, in the search box, type Timeline.

Add a base timeline shape

  • From the Timeline Shapes stencil, drag one of the timeline shapes (Block, Line, or Cylindrical) onto the drawing page.

The Configure Timeline dialog box opens. Set the Start and Finish dates and times. These dates are added to the beginning and end of the timeline. Finish setting the options on the Time Period and Time Format tabs, and click OK.

To change any of these settings later, you can open the Configure Timeline dialog box again by right-clicking the timeline, and then clicking Configure Timeline.

Add milestones, intervals, and markers

Marker type

Use to

Milestone

Indicate a specific milestone date on the timeline (for example, the date when a writing project must be handed off to a publisher).

Interval

Indicate a critical time span on the timeline (for example, the time required to write a first draft).

Today marker

Reflect the amount of time that has passed since the project began. A Today marker shifts automatically as the real-world date changes to show the current status of your schedule in relation to your next deadline.

Indicate a milestone on a timeline

  1. Drag a milestone shape from the Timeline Shapes stencil and drop it directly on top of the timeline.

  2. In the Configure Milestone dialog box, type or select the date and time for the milestone.

  3. In the Description box, type the label you want to show for the milestone.

  4. In the Date format list, choose how you want the date to look.

  5. Click OK.

To quickly change a milestone's date, drag the milestone where you want it on the timeline. The date on the milestone changes to match the new position.

Indicate a time span on a timeline

  1. Drop an interval shape directly on top of the timeline.

  2. Set the start and end dates for the time span, type a label, and choose the date format.

  3. Click OK.

To quickly change the time span of an interval, drag the selection handles or move the interval where you want it on the timeline. The date on the interval changes to match the new position.

Move the text off a timeline

Timelines can sometimes get crowded. To make your timeline more readable, click the yellow control handle and drag it to where you want to put the text.

Indicate elapsed time on a timeline

  • Drop the Elapsed time shape directly on top of the timeline. The shape aligns its left end with the beginning of the timeline and extends to the current date.

  • Drag the Today marker shape onto the timeline. The shape is positioned at the current real-world date.

Each time you open a timeline drawing with an Elapsed time or Today marker shape on it, the shapes shift to align with the current real-world date.

Show details for a section of a timeline

Expand a segment of an existing timeline as a second timeline to show more detail. The expanded timeline represents a segment of the original timeline, but you work with it individually.

If you add a milestone or interval to the original timeline, it will also be added to the expanded timeline. But if you add one to the expanded timeline, it will not be added to the original timeline.

Show details for a section

  1. Drag the Expanded timeline shape onto the page.

  2. In the Configure Timeline dialog box, set the options and click OK.

The expanded timeline uses dashed lines to indicate the section of the original timeline that it represents.

Shared milestones and intervals are synchronized automatically so that if you change them on one timeline, they also change on the other.

The expanded timeline uses the same shape type as the original timeline by default. To change the shape type, right-click the expanded timeline, point to Timeline Type, and choose an option.

To quickly change the time span of an expanded timeline, drag the yellow control handles. The date on the expanded timeline changes to match the new position.

Refine a timeline

What you want to change

Action to take

Project start or finish dates

Right-click the timeline, click Configure Timeline, and select the new start or finish dates.

Number of divisions on a timeline bar

Right-click the timeline, click Configure Timeline, and choose a different Time scale unit.

Show or hide timeline dates and divisions

Right-click the timeline, click Configure Timeline and go to the Time Format tab. Select or clear check boxes to show or hide dates and markings on the timeline.

Show or hide arrowheads on a timeline bar

Right-click the timeline, point to Arrowhead, and select an option.

Milestone type

Right-click the milestone, point to Set Milestone Type, and select a style.

Milestone date

Right-click the milestone, click Configure Milestone, and enter a date.

Milestone position

Right-click the milestone, point to Position, and select a style.

Show or hide milestone date and description

Right-click the milestone, point to Show Elements, and select or clear the options.

Milestone or time span description

Double-click the text associated with the milestone or interval, type the new description, and press Esc.

Interval type

Right-click the interval, point to Set Interval Type, and select a style.

Set interval description above or below the date

Right-click the interval, point to Description Position, and select an option.

Show or hide interval date, description, and percent complete

Right-click the interval, point to Show Elements, and select or clear the options.

Time span dates

Right-click the interval, click Configure Interval, and enter the dates.

Position of text associated with a milestone, interval, or today marker

Select the shape. Drag a control handle to change the distance and angle between the text and timeline bar.

Interim markings

Right-click the timeline, point to Interim Markings, and select a style.

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