A Timeline is a sequence of related events, stories or incidents that are arranged in chronological order and displayed along a line or graph drawn from left to right or from top to bottom.
Interactive timelines may be used to judge or measure the growth of an organization or may be to understand the trends revolving around a particular subject.
Below is an infographic which beautifully illustrates a short Timeline of the iphone (see high resolution here)
How to Create your own Timeline with Microsoft Excel
It’s quite easy to create a basic timeline in Microsoft excel using a Timeline Template. Download a sample Timeline template for Ms-Excel and follow the steps mentioned below:
1. Open the template for editing and you will see a sample timeline with rows of data as shown below:
Do not delete the existing rows as this may mess up the timeline sequence.
2. To edit or add custom events in the timeline, double click a row with the Yellow Background and enter a sentence or event in the function field as shown below:
3. To edit the dates, right click the X axis and select “Format axis”. Next, enter the starting date and the duration of units which you want to appear in the timeline.
4. Once you are done with setting up the dates, you may want to delete or move the events to a specific year. Just select the cursor placed over the year icon in the Timeline preview and you can move the events to a specific date unit.
5. To delete an event from the timeline, first delete the year and then the event. Next, move all the other events up and then modify the data series to match with the events in the column that are not included in the graph.
Once the timeline is ready, use a screen capture utility or hit Windows Print screen to capture the screen and save the timeline as an image file. More information on creating timelines with Ms-Excel.
Online Tools to Create Interactive Timelines
There are web based tools to create timelines but they are not as impressive as Microsoft Excel because you can not customize the Timeline with colors, fonts and images. You can try Free Timeline and Timeline Maker to create horizontal and vertical timelines. But none of them appear as appealing as Ms-excel mentioned above.
TimeRime is another web tool which can be used to create flash based timelines in minutes. The timeline can include images, texts, dates and it’s the best option because once the timeline is complete you can make it public and let anyone in the world view it. (also read: How to create pie charts and venn diagrams online)