Time has a way of getting away from us. A visual timeline infographic can keep you on track.
Timelines are perfect for telling stories and visualizing processes. You can use a timeline to give an overview of events, to highlight important points in time, and reveal things that people might have missed.
They’re perfect for including in presentations, posting on blogs, and including in ebooks and white papers. Whether you’re looking for a way to help your audience remember important dates, or you want tell your audience a story about a topic they’re interested in that they might not have known, timeline infographics are an effective way to visualize the information.
While you could settle for creating a basic timeline in PowerPoint or Excel, the design wouldn’t exactly inspire anyone. But if you start with a creative and visually-engaging timeline template, you can create a timeline that people will want to stop and take the time to read.
Follow these steps to use a timeline template:
- Pick a timeline template that fits the story you want to tell.
- Add, remove, or rearrange points in time using the drag and drop canvas.
- Insert your own dates and events using the text boxes.
- Customize the colors, fonts and icons to make the design your own.
It’s that easy!
Here are 10 timeline templates and examples for how you can use them.
1. Color code points in time to make your timeline easy to read
Color coding data in your timeline is one of the easiest and most effective ways to make your design readable. Use distinct colors for each year, important dates, or specific events that you want to stand out from the timeline.
Take a look at how color is used to differentiate between year in this simple social media timeline:
2. Plot your projects with a sprint timeline template
Visual template are an effective way to plan your business goals. You can lay it all out, summarize steps, and use visuals to emphasize points.
3. Engage your audience with a timeline presentation slide
Text-only presentation slides are boring. Timeline infographics are perfect for making information visually engaging. Optimize your timeline for PowerPoint, Google Slides or SlideDeck by using a landscape orientation and big, bold text.
Use a gradient color scheme to create a flow from the beginning of your timeline to the end.
4. Keep event attendees on track with a schedule timeline
Want your event to go off without a hitch? Give your attendees a timeline of what the day will look like. That way, they’ll know what to expect ahead of time.
Don’t forget to include information about where each part of the day will take place. Including photos or illustrations of what to expect can also help get your attendees excited about the day’s events.
5. Show your weekly progress with a professional timeline template
Keep track of your team’s progress week over week with a simple and organized timeline template. Use icons to categorize different types of tasks so that readers will be able to skim the timeline and find the information quickly.
Alternate between two neutral background colors to increase the readability of your design.
6. Map your customers’ journey with a simple timeline infographic
Understanding your customers’ journey is a core component of a solid customer experience. Create an infographic that visualizes your various customer profiles. Use icons to emphasize key steps in their journey.
Take a look at how this timeline example uses icons to make each customer journey easy to understand:
7. Use an illustration as the backdrop for your timeline
The beauty of a timeline infographic is that you can create a design that really reflects the theme of your information.
Pick a flat icon that reflects the theme of your information and stretch it to fit the background of your page. Then, pick a color that stands out to create your timeline, text and smaller ilustrations.
8. Plan out your day with a timeline template planner
Do you want to keep your team–and yourself–on track? A simple day plan timeline is a great way to sum up the events and tasks for an important day.
Include specific times and any important details people should know. For example, take a look at this wedding day timeline template:
9. Use icons to make helps readers scan your timeline for specific information
Icons visualize information in one small graphic. That’s why they’re perfect for including in visual timelines. Pick an icon with a widely recognizable meaning (for example, social media platform logos) so people can scan your timeline for information about a specific topic.
For example, this timeline showing the history of social media platforms uses icons to identify which point is about each individual platform:
10. Use comparison photos to show how something has changed over the years
It’s fun to see how things have changed over the years–tech, fashion, event foods. Create a visual timeline that shows photos of a thing, to highlight how it has changed over the years.
For example, this timeline shows how cameras have changed over the years, uses images and brief descriptions to inform readers:
11. Use time blocks to section of your days, weeks and months
Scheduling your days in time blocks can be an effective way to organize and prioritize your tasks. Try using different colored blocks for different types of tasks or appointments. This is another opportunity where icons can help you code information, to make it easier to scan your timeline.
PS: If you’re looking for a free scheduling app to help you book meetings without the back-and-forth, check out HubSpot’s Meetings tool.
12. Indicate how much time should be spent on each task in your timeline
If you’re a busy person who needs to budget their time, indicate how long should be spent on each activity in your timeline. One way to do this is to use bars of different lengths to visualize lengths of time.
For example, look at how this timeline template segments lengths of time in one person’s day:
13. Show the history of a popular topic using a timeline with a thematic design
People often like to learn about the history of people, places, and things that they’re interested in. For example, this timeline template highlights the major product announcement at each Google I/O event since the first year it was put on.
The timeline uses Google’s iconic color palette to reflect the story. Icons and logos make it easy for readers to skim the timeline and find their favorite products.
14. Visualize a process using a branded timeline template
Sometime, processes can be confusing, especially if there are a lot of steps to follow. It’s easy for people to forget steps in a process. A process timeline visualizes a process, organizes the steps, and shows the connections between steps. Numbering each step on the timeline will make the information especially easy to follow.
Use your brand’s colors, fonts and logo to spread brand awareness and make your content recognizable across multiple channels.
15. Highlight important dates in history with an infographic timeline
Educate and remind readers about important dates in history using a timeline. Emphasize certain dates by using big, colorful fonts. Offer brief, concise explanations for why the dates are important.
If you are pulling your information from other sources, be sure to cite your sources at the bottom of the infographic. If you publish your infographic on Venngage’s community page, you can even include an active link for readers to follow to get more information.
16. Enhance a calendar by using colorful icons
Take a classic calendar and make it more effective by using icons. Pick icons to represent different types of events…and don’t be afraid to mix up the colors! Simple visuals make information easier to remember, so pick icons that will stick in your memory.
Choose icons to fit your events using Venngage’s library of over 40,000 icons.
17. Group years together in your timeline to shows periods throughout history
While most timeline typically use one connecting line down the middle to show progress over time, you can group years together using horizontal lines. Group periods according to different technological breakthroughs, political movements, artistic and fashion trends, or any other broad theme.
Don’t be afraid to stray away from the classic branch timeline design. Get creative by moving events around the page and playing with different layouts.
18. Emphasize different points in your timeline by using non-uniform design elements
If certain date or events are particularly important, emphasize them on your timeline by making them bigger than other dates. You can do this by using bigger icons, bigger font sizes, or using a contrasting color.
Not only will using non-uniform design elements make certain points stand out, they will also make your timeline more interesting to look at.
19. Rank facts using a numbered timeline template
A timeline doesn’t necessarily have to chronicle years. It can also be used to count down information. Take this timeline template that counts down New Year’s Eve facts. The line down the middle of the infographic creates a flow from fact to fact.
You could use a template like this to rank products, websites, movies…anything!
20. Summarize complex histories with a simple timeline template
While you can’t cover everything that has happened in history in one timeline, you can highlight the important, defining events. Summarize the history of a person, place or thing by showing key moments in history and offering concise explanations of why those moments are significant.
Use colorful icons to enforce and illustrate the information. If you have a resource where readers can go to get more information, cite it at the bottom of the infographic.