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There are several timeline add-ins for PowerPoint that make it easier for you to create timelines.
Timelines, schedules, project roadmaps… these are the kind of slides that often appear in business projects.
If I were you, I wouldn’t be surprised – after all, it’s the basis of organized project management.
A project is made up of multiple phases and, in the business world, it takes time to execute, which leads you to describe the various phases, perhaps in anticipation of getting approval from your audience.
Here you are presenting a roadmap.
You draw an axis, but it comes out crooked, you waste time straightening it out, then you start adding milestones but they’re not equidistant, you spend even more time trying to properly distribute the spaces, but then you realize they don’t line up well, and you still must enter the titles and descriptions of each point in time!
Do you recognize yourself in this, even a little bit?
If so, don’t worry, we’ve all been there.
PowerPoint may not be easy to use for this type of representation. So, we need to work smart – as true Lean Presenters – to be effective and efficient.
I invite you to read the next paragraph with the mother of all questions.
How do you add a timeline on PowerPoint?
Shortly, I’m going to show you several add-in alternatives for adding timelines and timetables in PowerPoint.
However, before I get into the timeline add-ins available on the market, I want to show you that the easiest way to add a timeline on PowerPoint is definitely to draw it by hand.
Maurizio, do you mean drawing it freehand?
Of course not!
I mean using the tools that PowerPoint provides, but using them as I’m about to show you…
Draw a horizontal line and be sure to hold down the SHIFT key on the keyboard to constrain the horizontal movement of the mouse and get a straight line.
This way you will avoid unnecessary work to straighten it.
Insert your milestones.
The project milestone is the management tool that is used to delineate a specific point in the project schedule. In fact, milestones define the beginning and end of a task and mark the completion of an important phase of the work – twproject.com
Now you could enter the other milestones, as many as you need.
I used a trick to duplicate the milestone in order to preserve the distribution spaces.
In fact, I duplicated the first one by holding SHIFT + CTRL to perform an on-axis duplication (that is, duplicate the first one so that the second one is aligned to it).
Then I replicated the movement with CTRL + Y (F4 on the keyboard works as well), so I didn’t have to repeat each step by hand.
Nice, isn’t it?
Stop for a moment, though.
You’re not working the right way.
In Lean Presentation Design, every step counts. So, at each step you should ask yourself if you could do everything more efficiently.
Now that you have finished drawing the milestones, you will have to complete them with text, maybe some icons or even images, and create many other objects that you will then have to replicate.
So, you will be in the same situation as at the beginning: you will have to replicate some objects that you could have already replicated if you had managed them all together.
What are you suggesting, Maurizio?
Simply to understand from the beginning which are the elements you will have to replicate and use CTRL + Y once for all of them.
This one was complex; can you give me an example?
Yes, of course!
Let’s start from the first milestone and complete it in every detail.
I’ve added the year, title, and a description.
I can also add graphics to it, like a small photo underneath, which I’ll grab from the MLC PowerPoint Add-in image library.
Desaturate the image to keep the slide professional and avoid introducing too many colors.
Now you can also insert an icon symbolizing the milestone, which you can always find in the MLC PowerPoint Add-in icon library.
In case you don’t have my add-in, you can find icons on online portals that offer them in vector format for free, perfect for creating presentations; I explain everything here: Icons for PowerPoint – The Ultimate Guide.
Now we’re ready to replicate the entire block as many times as you need.
There’s nothing left to do but replace icons and images and adjust the years.
Once again, there is a Lean way to do it.
What do you mean by the Lean way, Maurizio?
That you can do it much faster than the average (or even advanced) PowerPoint user would.
Come on, show me, don’t keep me in suspense.
Follow me, I’ll show you.
First, insert the new icon and format it in a consistent way.
Now select the new one, the one you want to replace and then use the SWAP SHAPES button of the MLC PowerPoint Add-in.
Let’s move on to the photos.
Can’t I do the same thing?
If the photo has different dimensions and proportions than the ones you placed in the timeline, then you need to make them consistent first.
I invented a button for this too, it’s called SAME SIZE. Just select two objects, and it will make them the same size, respecting their proportions, in a single click!
Replicating for the last two milestones, you get the final result.
Not bad, right?
More importantly, do you realize how quickly you can create even a complex timeline in PowerPoint?
It’s much harder explaining it than actually doing it.
I wrote a very complete guide where I explain all the most impactful techniques on how to add a timeline on PowerPoint – if you’re interested in this topic, don’t miss it.
Timeline Template Library for PowerPoint MLC Add-in
A timeline is, after all, a graphical representation of a line with steps showing the progress of a project.
Nevertheless, there are effective timelines and others that are truly unpresentable.
All you have to do is take a walk around the office at our company and watch the designers rebuild our clients’ presentations and see real magic happen right before your eyes.
For me, just watching the girls work is enough to find inspiration for a new article.
So, we thought we’d collect the best designs from our production process and make them available to everyone.
What do you mean Maurizio?
Basically, every time we create a new timeline template that we’re proud of, we upload it to your graphic assets in the appropriate library on the MLC PowerPoint Add-in.
Would you show me how to access it?
Sure, keep reading.
Open the graphic libraries, and then click on the Templates tab.
In here you will find a multitude of ready-to-use templates.
Just click on them to insert them into your presentation.
From here on, you only need to edit text and icons to adapt the layout to your content. Consider that the entire template was built in PowerPoint, so it is editable in every detail.
What do you think?
Share your thoughts in the comments so we can have a chat.
If you’re looking for a timeline add-in for PowerPoint, MLC PowerPoint Add-in offers you ready-to-use layouts created by presentation designers, definitely an option to consider.
Gantt Charts with Timeline Add-in Feature for PowerPoint
Sometimes, a timeline alone is not enough to represent more complex projects.
Do you find yourself managing complex projects in your work?
If so, you’re not alone – we’ve all been there.
If you have multiple streams of intersecting tasks and want to show their interdependencies, you’re moving toward a more structured tool known as a Gantt chart.
However, creating a Gantt chart in PowerPoint can easily turn into a nightmare. For this reason, I’ve created a tool that allows you to create one step by step.
Open the MLC tab and then click on the Gantt Chart button.
This simple interface will allow you to create a Gantt chart in an easy and fast way.
Shall we try to create one together?
Come on, let’s do it!
First of all, enter some tasks. I will enter 3 for simplicity.
Now assign a manager to the tasks – in this case, we’ll assign all three to me.
Define start and end dates for each task.
All that’s left to do is to indicate the percentage of completion of each task, and then click ok.
Here it is, in all its glory!
Easy to do and, guess what?
Easy to edit!
Just click on the time band to access the side panel from which you can launch the Gantt chart editor again.
At the end of the day, the Gantt chart is a tool that requires constant updates precisely because of the role it plays – communicating the progress of the project.
Want to try MLC PowerPoint add-in for free?
You can start by taking a look at the new Gantt charting features that you’ll find well explained on the dedicated page on my website.
You have all the basics you need to create Gantt charts and represent complex processes.
The topic, however, is so rich that I decided to dedicate a guide to it called: PowerPoint Gantt Charts in Simple Steps.
More Timeline Add-ins for PowerPoint
MLC PowerPoint Add-in is my valuable ally to excel in the world of effective presentations. However, there is at least one more add-in, which is very effective and specializes in Gantt charts and timelines, that we cannot help but mention.
I’m talking about Office timeline
Let’s take a quick look at a demo video that will show you the potential of this PowerPoint add-in.
Office timeline looks intuitive and easy to use. I really like the attention to detail of the GUI that facilitates you through the process of creating any kind of timeline on PowerPoint.
One thing I particularly appreciate about this add-in is the possibility to choose from several pre-set timeline templates.
In other words, one more tool in your arsenal to tackle the world of PowerPoint timelines.
The main difference with the MLC PowerPoint add-in is that Office Timeline is specialized and offers a lot more features related to timeline creation, while the MLC PowerPoint Add-in has a wider spectrum of action.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the questions I receive most frequently via my LinkedIn profile.
How To Add a Timeline to PowerPoint?
As you have seen, there are several ways to add timelines on PowerPoint. The first of them is obviously to work by hand, provided, however, that you do it in a Lean way.
Go back to the paragraph where I explain how to create a timeline on the fly by simply using PowerPoint’s standard tools.
Can PowerPoint Make a Timeline?
PowerPoint doesn’t have a dedicated tool for creating timelines. The closest thing to it are SmartArt, but I never use them because they are too standard and not very agile.
If you’re curious to find out how to use SmartArt to create timelines on PowerPoint, I’ll let you have a look at the guide: Timeline PowerPoint Templates: How To Best Create Them.
How To Edit PowerPoint Timeline?
If I answered your previous question with a PowerPoint shortcoming, here I’ll tell you that PowerPoint was born to edit and update content.
In fact, these tools can recreate even complex timelines by using PowerPoint objects only.
This way, if you sent your timeline to a PowerPoint user who does not have these add-ins, they would still be able to work with it and make the changes they want.
Timelines in PowerPoint are an everyday occurrence for those of us who create business presentations.
You need to know how to create them and, more importantly, you need to know how to update them in order to always keep track of the progress of the projects you present.
Even by working with the basic PowerPoint tools and using them wisely, you can get great results in no time.
But if you want to take it to the next level, the add-ins I’ve mentioned are certainly good solutions for generating all kinds of timelines in record time.