How to create a timeline in Google Docs

Timelines are an excellent way to visualize and present events over a period of time. Historically, timelines were used to plot specific milestones and achievements. Today, companies utilize timelines as a graphical representation of workflow in school or business projects.

These timelines can serve a variety of purposes across many different industries. 

If you manage several projects and want to be on top of everything, learning to make a simple timeline will streamline your work. With Google Docs, you can make simple yet effective timelines to guide you through your project.

You’ll find several useful tools in the Drawing Toolbar of Google Docs to easily create a timeline from scratch. 

Now, there’s only one way to make a timeline on Google Docs. 

Making a Timeline on Google Docs

  • Using the Drawing Toolbar to make a timeline

Learning to make a timeline to lay out the workflow saves you a lot of time and money. Fortunately, Google Docs offers an easy way to make simple timelines using the Drawing Toolbar.

The Drawing Toolbar provides a lot of tools to easily create simple timelines from scratch or from templates. Take note, however, that you won’t need a sophisticated, well-designed timeline to make it work. Unless you’re using it to make a pitch, a simple timeline can get the job done in most cases. 

Let’s get right to it! 

Why Should You Make a Timeline on Google Docs? 

Timelines are an excellent tool to simplify the contents of a project. It helps the stakeholders to easily capture the concept and overview of the project in its entirety. Suppose you are a project manager. You’ll for sure want to know who does what, which is delivered when and where, or how much is needed when. 

As a part of the workforce, a little delay or oversight in one task can have a domino effect on the whole project. If this happens, you’d most likely look into the succeeding tasks of the project that may be affected and try to mitigate the damage. Without a project timeline, this situation could drag you down from making a decision. And, the domino effect goes on. 

In the general sense, here are a couple more situations when making a timeline is a useful configuration. You’ll want to make a timeline when: 

  • You want to document past events in a chronological manner. 
  • You want to visualize past, present, and future events. 
  • You want to create a bird’s eye view of a project to identify critical points. 
  • You want to simplify a chronological presentation. 
  • You want to show the progress of an ongoing project. 

These are some general situations we’ve come up with to help you figure out when to use a timeline. You don’t have to use and follow these rules strictly. We’ll leave it up to your judgment to figure out other situations when making a timeline is most suitable. 

As a project management tool, timelines can give you a snapshot of the what, where, when, and how of the workflow. This paves the way for you to easily identify the critical parts of a project. In education, timelines are used to convey movement in civilization or major historical events of a country, among others. Researchers use timelines to present the scope and results of their experiments. 

Having said that, here’s everything you need to know to make a timeline on Google Docs. 

How to Make a Timeline on Google Docs

There are different types of timelines. For this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps on how to make a linear timeline using different line styles. We’ll use text boxes to type in the descriptions for each event. 

Here’s how you can make a linear timeline on Google Docs.

Step 1: Open up a Google Docs file. 

Before we get started, open up a Google Docs file. Feel free to use your own personal document where you need a timeline added. Otherwise, you can choose to create a new document since we’ll be making a timeline from scratch. 

Step 2: Launch the Drawing Toolbar. 

Go to the Insert menu and hover over the Drawing option. This opens a horizontal drop-down menu on the right. Select + New from the choices.

You should see the Drawing Toolbar window in the middle of your browser. 

Step 3: Create the skeletal frame of the timeline.

Let’s start with the horizontal base of our timeline. On the Drawing Toolbar, click the Line button. Once your cursor turns into a crosshair, click and drag horizontally to draw the base. 

Now, draw a vertical line and place it on top of the baseline. This will serve as a template for the branches of our timeline for later use. Then, click the Line end button and select the shaded circle style. Of course, feel free to choose a different one according to your preference. 

Create copies of this branch according to the number of events you want to include. For this example, we’ll make six copies to display six weeks. 

Take your time aligning the branches. You should notice by now the red level lines while moving your lines around. This is how Google Docs makes sure your lines are equidistant and leveled properly. 

Step 4. Add the text boxes. 

Now, let’s add the text boxes so we could start typing in the time intervals and the events. Click the Text box button and draw boxes on both ends of the branches. Again, you can simply copy-paste the text box, so they are all identical. However, it’s best to type something in the text box first before copy-pasting. 

You can start filling out the text boxes with the time intervals and timeline events. 

Step 5. Fine-tune your timeline. 

Click-and-drag the lines we just created to easily adjust their sizes. For this example, we’ll shorten the baseline a little bit so that both ends are symmetrical. 

Go ahead and explore other formatting tools to enhance the visual appeal of your timeline. For starters, you can always play with the weight and color of the lines, border and border color of the text boxes, or font styles of the text. 

Click the Save and Close button to save your timeline and go back to the main window. 

Congratulations! You’ve just used the Drawing Toolbar to make a timeline on Google Docs. 

Editing and Deleting a Timeline on Google Docs

If your project is finished and you happen to start a new one, you can launch the Drawing Toolbar to easily edit or delete parts of your previous timeline.

Now, you might find it a little tedious to make a timeline on Google Docs, as you’ll have to create the entire thing from scratch. This is why it’s best to keep a template of your previous work so you could simply modify them to create new ones. 

If you want a timeline with a more sophisticated design or perhaps you don’t have the time to make one from scratch, you can always try the following: 

  • Google Sheets 
  • Google Draw
  • MS Word 
  • MS Excel
  • Drawing diagram add-ons on Google Docs 

Note that some of these applications are not free and/or may require a separate installation process.


We’ve finally come to the end of this article. We hope that we’ve helped you figure out how to make a timeline on Google Docs. Here’s a brief summary of what we tackled today.

Using timelines is a great way to present a workflow or major events in a visual presentation. Knowing how to make a timeline can come in handy, most especially when you handle multiple projects simultaneously. Google Docs allows you to make a simple timeline using the special tools found in the Drawing Toolbar. 

We hope you’ve found this article helpful!

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