How to Create a Timeline on a Computer

by Carrie Perles

Creating a timeline on the computer may seem overwhelming. Surprisingly, you don't need any fancy software or advanced computer skills. Instead, you can use MS Word and some photos or illustrations of the time period (taken from free websites or drawn with art software) to put together a simple timeline that looks semi-professional.

Creating a Timeline

Open a new Word document.

Click on the "Insert" tab, then on the "Shapes" icon, and then choose the rectangular shape. Drag your mouse across the page to create a thin horizontal rectangle. This rectangle will be the body of your timeline. You can click on a colored box from the options that appear in order to fill in the color of the rectangle.

Select a line from the menu (the shape menu that contained the rectangle), and draw vertical lines in the appropriate places on the rectangle to divide the timeline into eras or periods.

Under the "Insert" tab, click the "Text Box" icon and choose the "Simple Text Box" option. Type in the text needed to label the first era or period, and change the font, size, and color of the text as desired. Drag the text box to the proper place on the timeline.

Remove the border on the text box by right-clicking on it, choosing "Format Text Box," and changing the line color to white. Copy the text box and revise the text to label the other eras on the timeline.

Add illustrations by finding free illustrations online, right-clicking on them, and selecting Copy. Then right-click on the timeline and select "Paste." For examples of free illustrations or photos, see the links in the Resources section.

Use the line-drawing tool under the "Insert" tab to draw lines from the pictures to the correct areas of the timeline.


  • check You may want to include a caption for each image you insert into your timeline.

Items you will need

About the Author

Keren (Carrie) Perles is a freelance writer with professional experience in publishing since 2004. Perles has written, edited and developed curriculum for educational publishers. She writes online articles about various topics, mostly about education or parenting, and has been a mother, teacher and tutor for various ages. Perles holds a Bachelor of Arts in English communications from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.