How to Make a Timeline Graphic in Google Docs, Word, Excel, Google Sheets, and PowerPoint

How to Make a Timeline Graphic in Google Docs, Word, Excel, Google Sheets, and PowerPoint

Infographics are a great way to capture user attention and communicate key concepts. Why? Because they combine relevant information with graphic impact to increase retention and engagement.

Data backs up this common-sense assertion: Research found that people retain 65% of the information they see — but only 10% of the information they hear — and spend 39% less time searching for the content they need when it’s displayed in infographic format.

→ Download Now: 15 Free Infographic Templates

One of the most compelling uses for this functional format? Timeline graphics. These date and data delivery vehicles offer a way to quickly communicate important information — from key dates in your company’s history to upcoming project milestones or predicted market trends.

Of course, it’s one thing to see the value in timeline graphics and another to actually create attractive and effective visuals. In this piece, we’ll tackle timeline tactics for familiar applications including Google Docs, Word, Excel, Google Sheets, and Powerpoint.

3…2…1…let’s go!

What is a timeline graphic?

While there’s no single format for timeline graphics, the most common composition uses four parts:

  • Data
  • Visual
  • Header
  • Description

Each timeline element contains all four parts, and elements are then arranged in left-to-right order of oldest-to-newest events. This format offers simplicity of form and function — elements are easy to read and identify, and the “flow” of time is simple to spot.

Let’s say you’re creating a timeline of key events in your corporate history using this framework. It might look something like this:

an example of a timeline graphic made in google docs

This (very basic) example was made in Google Docs and uses an arrow to denote the passage of time. Dates above the line are paired with brief details below. Some timelines will include both a header — such as merger — with a longer description below. How much information is worth including depends on the complexity of the topic at hand, who’s going to be using the chart, and its overall purpose. In this case, our graphic element is the line itself but you can also insert relevant images of people or places associated with the event to increase user engagement.

Another common graphic timeline format runs top-to-bottom with earlier dates at the top of the page and later dates further down. To maximize space many of these top-to-bottom templates alternate information left-and-right down the line.

How to Make a Timeline on Google Docs

So how do you make a timeline graphic?

1. Create a picture.

Head to “Insert”, then select “Drawing” and “+ New”. This will bring up a new window that looks like a checkerboard.

2. Start drawing.

Select the “Line” button from the top menu and choose “Arrow”. Then, draw a line across the screen. To make sure it’s straight, look at the left-hand side — if you only see one line, it’s level. If you see more than one, it’s at an angle.

3. Enter your text.

Click on the Text Box tool — represented as a T surrounded by a box — and create a box above or below your line to start adding details. You can either copy and paste multiple boxes to ensure consistent sizing and spacing or use a single, giant text box. While the latter option is quicker to create (we used it) the natural left-to-right format of the box means you’re limited in how information appears.

4. Save and close.

When you’ve entered all of your timeline data, click “Save and Close” and the image will be automatically added to your Google Doc.

How to Make a Timeline in Word

Maybe you don’t like Google Docs, maybe your company uses Microsoft Office exclusively, or maybe you don’t like the idea of potentially shared timelines. Whatever the case, it’s also possible to create a timeline graphic in Word.

1. Insert SmartArt

Open a new Word document and head to the “Insert” tab, then select “SmartArt”.

2. Find your timeline.

From the new menu that appears, select “Process”. This will bring up a host of potential timeline graphic options, everything from single, large arrows to connected text boxes to linked circles. The simplest option is the “Basic Timeline” which contains dots embedded in a large, transparent arrow.

3. Enter your data.

Use the text pane located on the left-hand side to enter your timeline data. Pressing “Enter” creates a new timeline entry — if you need to add more information to a specific timeline item, press Shift+Enter to create a line break.

4. Customize your timeline.

Customize your timeline dots and arrow with shapes or colors to achieve your desired look.

Word does not automatically calculate time between events; as a result, all items on your timeline will be equidistant from one another. If you need to communicate a larger span of time, you can drag events further apart manually, but this will eventually distort the graphic.

How to Make a Timeline in Excel

If you enjoy using Microsoft Office for creating timelines but want to make things more difficult for yourself, try building an Excel timeline. While the finished product offers easily-accessible data in a familiar format, the effort required is significantly more substantial.

1. Create a data table.

Create a three-column table in Excel that contains your timeline data. Use the first column for dates and the second for event titles. In the last column, enter a series of numbers — these numbers will determine the height of your timeline plots. You can set them all to the same height with the same number or different heights in a repeating pattern depending on your preference.

2. Insert a scatter chart.

Select “Insert” from the top Excel menu, then “Charts”, then select a Scatter chart.

3. Import your data.

Right-click the chart that appears and choose “Select Data Source.” Select the “Add” button in the “Legend Entries (Series)” menu that appears. Click on the small spreadsheet image that appears next to the “Series X values” box, then choose the column of dates you created.

Then, select the small spreadsheet next to the “Series Y values” box and choose the data in your timeline height column. Click “OK” and you’ll create a scatter chart with dates at the bottom and dots at varying heights.

4. Eliminate gridlines, add error bars.

Select your chart and find the “+” in the upper-right to bring up the Chart Elements menu. Uncheck “Chart Title” and “Gridlines”, then check “Data Labels” and “Error Bars”

5. Connect the dots.

Head to the “Error Bars” menu option and select “No Line” for your Series X Error Bars — this will remove the horizontal lines on each side of your data points. For your Series Y Error Bars, set the direction to “Minus” and the Error Amount to “100%”. This will create vertical lines between your dates and your data points.

6. Insert event titles.

In the “Format Axis” menu, select “Series 1 Data Labels”, uncheck “Y Value”, and select “Value from Cells.” Then, click the small spreadsheet icon. Select your event titles column and then click “OK”.

This should create a basic timeline with dates along the bottom and data points at varying height, each with a small description above. If desired, you can add extra formatting and color options from the Format Data Series menu.

How to Make a Timeline in Google Sheets

The polar opposite of Excel, Google Sheets makes it easy to create project timeline.

1. Create a new timeline.

Open Google Sheets and select the “Project Timeline” option.

2. Customize.

Edit your timeline. Change any text box, add colors, and modify dates as required. While customization is bounded by the basic format of this Gantt chart, Google Sheets offers one of the easiest ways to create and share a timeline.

How to Make a Timeline in PowerPoint

Making a timeline in PowerPoint is almost identical to the process used in Word.

1. Select your design.

Head to the “Design” tab and select your theme.

2. Insert SmartArt.

Click on “Insert”, then “SmartArt”.

3. Choose and fill your timeline graphic.

Select the timeline you prefer and it will be created with three elements. Add text to the elements directly, and use “Add Bullets” to add bullet points below. Select “Add Shape” to additional timeline sections.

Timing is Everything

Timeline graphics add convenient context to otherwise dry data points. From details about your company from inception to current interaction to in-depth project milestone markers, visual timelines in Google Docs or Sheets, or Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint offer a way to capture critical data while simultaneously boosting viewer interest and bolstering information retention.

Infographic design

How to Get a Google Ads Certification

How to Get a Google Ads Certification

Google Ads is one of the most effective advertising tools to get more traffic to your website, and generate more leads. In fact, most businesses see an average of 200% ROI on their Google Ad spend.

To create better, more powerful ads on Google, it can be helpful to receive a Google Ads certificate. Additionally, it’s a great resume booster.

If you’re looking to get a Google Ads certificate, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we’ve created a guide that will explain why a Google Ads certification through Google’s Skillshop is helpful, and how you can prepare and get certified.

Free Guide, Template & Planner: How to Use Google Ads for Business

What is Google Skillshop?

Google Skillshop is the home for all e-learning courses offered by Google product experts. This is where you’ll head to become Google product certified, including in Google Ads, Google Ad Manager, and Analytics Academy.

Google-Skillshop

Whether you’re a beginner looking to dive into the world of Google products or an experienced marketing professional ready to up-level your skills, you’ll find what you need in Skillshop.

Increase your knowledge in Google Ads Display, Ads Video, Shopping Ads, or even Google Ads measurement. Not sure why you’d go deeper than a working understanding of Google’s product suite? Let’s talk the “why” of getting certified, below.

Why get a Google Ads certification?

Years ago when I was applying for work, I interviewed a couple dozen people who worked in the digital marketing industry to learn about their jobs and the application process. Many emphasized the importance of getting a Google Ads certification.

The truth is that many employers search for people with this certification on LinkedIn to find employees for their marketing team. LinkedIn generally offers a talent pool of higher-quality than standard job boards like Indeed. Plus, the demand for marketers skilled in Google Ads is high, while the supply of qualifying candidates is relatively low.

Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever before to apply for a job with little effort, so employers are swimming in low-quality choices.

To find qualified employees, then, many hiring managers use LinkedIn’s search engine to find anyone with a Google Ads certification because it’s one of the few defining qualifications that can show proven knowledge and skill. The certification shows the hiring manager that you’re somewhat savvy about the industry.

The good news is that a lot of fresh talent don’t have a certification on their LinkedIn profile or resume since they don’t know the value of it. In other words, you can easily stand out if you get certified.

Even if you don’t want a role in PPC, the certification is still helpful for any marketer. PPC advertising, especially through Google Ads, makes up the bulk of online advertising. If you understand the principles of Google Ads, you can translate those principles to other marketing efforts.

Additionally, having an understanding of neighboring areas of marketing helps with your communication among team members, and empathy. Ultimately, having that certification under your tool belt will only make you look better to employers.

How Applicable is the Certification in the Marketing Industry?

To be fair and objective, let’s acknowledge the case against getting certified.

First, in terms of actual skill and practice, a certification isn’t entirely applicable in a real marketing role. It’s possible to score well or even perfectly on this exam without having actual experience with the platform, especially when there are exam answers online.

The exam can, at times, teach you the best answer in theory, which isn’t close to the best answer in practice.

Having been in the Google Ads platform myself, I know that a few questions are unnecessarily complicated, not applicable, or biased toward a response focused on spending as much money as possible on Google’s platform. Google makes money when you spend money on ads, regardless of whether the ad leads to a sale, so their intentions make sense.

With all that said, most of the questions are still valuable because they help you learn how to navigate the platform and make accurate calculations. You can grow a lot through preparing for this exam even if you initially have little to no knowledge of Google Ads.

You should take the test without cheating, learn from your incorrect answers, and retake it to improve. Otherwise, you may have a tough time with the platform later on, which can seem detailed and intimidating to beginners.

Here’s another huge reason why you should get certified and make sure you learn a lot during the preparation process, rather than speed through it — any decent marketing agency or department that you’d like to work for is going to test you on your understanding of terminology and pay-per-click reasoning during the application process. They’re going to find out whether you really know what you’re talking about.

Therefore, the knowledge that the exams offer does have some real-world value. That doesn’t mean you have to be a total whiz. But you should understand most of the concepts tested.

Treat the Google Ads exam as an opportunity to learn rather than a task to check-off a list. Your mindset shift will make all the difference because you’ll be learning from every question asked, while others rush through the exam just to finish it.

Topics and Exam Duration of the Google Ads Certifications

Google Ads Exam Topics

There are Google Ads certifications for different topics, including video, mobile, display, and shopping advertising. The most important version is the search advertising exam since that’s the area marketers use most often on the platform. The second most applicable Google Ads test for marketers is likely Google Ads display certification.

Google Ads Certification Exam Duration

Each exam has a different time limit, but it’s usually between 60 minutes and two hours. I’ve got a good sense for how long it actually takes since I’ve sat in a classroom with a dozen people taking the exam and have seen how quickly people finish. It usually takes 50–75% of the allotted time. A small percentage of people will use up to all the time if they’re new or focused on learning from each question.

Google Ads Certification Badges

Once you’ve passed the exam, you get a certification badge that you can show off on your LinkedIn profile. Adding this badge to your profile adds credibility and makes your profile more search-engine friendly. As mentioned, recruiters look for this certification and care about it, so you’ll be showing up more often when they search.

Google Ads Certification Training

The training resources that Google offers are a handy starting point. You can learn a lot about the testing format, style of questions, and concepts that’ll show up on the exam.

Additionally, one of the best ways to prepare for the exams is through YouTube tutorials, demonstrations, and tutorial articles. Most people are visual learners, and they will learn better when they see the platform itself with a video, rather than reading about it. That said, some blog posts have great screenshots throughout to help you better understand their tutorial.

It’s important to note — many of the resources online are overkill. It’s easy for beginners to feel overwhelmed by the details. However, try to focus on learning the fundamental principles — like what to tweak to make a big impact on performance.

If a tutorial article is 5,000 words long, then it’s covering every detail of the platform, which is too much for the certification exam.

Additionally, the exams themselves can be training tools. If you don’t pass the first time, you can learn from your incorrect answers and retake it. You can use your first attempt to get familiar with the format and duration. Reflect on why you got a question wrong so that you can remember the right answer for next time.

Some of the questions asked are recycled and randomized with different numbers. You can gain a lot of applicable math skills by learning the principles behind calculations. Unfortunately, many marketers skip learning from the exam itself and miss out on the bulk of where they can grow.

Take the exam with an attitude of learning, rather than completing.

Tips for When You’re Taking the Exam

1. Take notes.

Have printed notes on hand that you can consult quickly whenever you forget minor details here and there (don’t expect to rely on these for the entire exam, though). These notes are useful in case Google decides to implement restrictive browsing limits for exam takers in the future.

2. Plan for plenty of battery.

Make sure your computer is plugged in so it doesn’t run out of battery life while you’re taking the exam. This tip may seem obvious, but you don’t want to find yourself in that painful situation.

3. Pace yourself, while answering.

Take your time with each question. Most people end up with extra time. Remember — it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll be answering multiple-choice questions for at least an hour.

4. Practice self-care, pre-test.

Hydrate. Get enough sleep. Some people overlook simple things, like making sure you have enough water and food before the exam, which can affect brain performance. Foods high in omega-3 are great for brain power.

Ultimately, getting a Google Ads certification is a worthwhile investment for your career growth. Digital marketing employers look for any valid evidence that you’re above entry-level applicants.

5. Don’t rush through without understanding the topics.

While it’s possible to pass the exam without understanding many of the principles, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice in the long run. Treat the exam as a learning process and an opportunity to shore up your knowledge and application of PPC terms and methodology because it’ll help you during the job interview, and in your career.

You don’t have to know everything about Google Ads since real-world experience can help you learn. But the knowledge you gain in preparing for this exam will give you a head start.

kit for how to use Google Ads

10 Free Google Tools All Content Marketers Should Use

10 Free Google Tools All Content Marketers Should Use

If you consider yourself a content marketing professional, there’s a good chance you already use Google tools the make your life easier.

But regardless of how much experience you have and the results you’ve achieved in the past, you know there are always new ways to boost your performance.

Social media, just the right keyword tool, Google’s Keyword Planner, honing your search term — these things can all have a big impact on your volume and your success as a content marketing pro.

Many people look at Google and see nothing more than a search engine. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to see your website at the top of the search engine giant’s results, you can’t ignore the process for reaching this goal.

When it comes to content marketing, the tools you use, and the strategies you employ will greatly impact the end result.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a content marketing beginner or have many years of experience under your belt, this post could change your approach.

Below, I’ll discuss 10 free Google tools that all content marketers should use.

You may not use all of these tools, and some might not suit your marketing strategy. Even so, I’m confident that you’ll find one or two that can alter your approach for the better.

Are you seeking a tool that helps you find and target the best keywords for your business?

While there are many to choose from, the Google Keyword Planner remains one of the best ways to conduct keyword research.

There’s a lot to like about this free tool, including the fact that it’s extremely simple to use.

As a content marketer, you should always be searching for keywords that can give your website or a particular blog post a boost.

My top suggestion for using this keyword tool is simple: experiment, experiment, and then experiment some more.

The more searches you run, the more you’ll understand how the tool works. Also, multiple searches give you a better idea of which keywords best suit your site.

For example, “content marketing” may be your primary keyword. In a perfect world, you’d rank at the top of Google for this term.

However, you know that this will be difficult. You also know that there are long-tail terms that can increase your search results.

This tool helps you uncover these terms. Check out this screenshot:

With this in mind, you now have a better idea of what to do next. Maybe you find that “b2b content marketing” is a keyword that makes sense for a future blog post.

At that point, you can plug the term, in as your primary keyword, to dig up even more long-tail ideas.

Even though Google Keyword Planner appears to be nothing more than a basic tool, it does everything right for content marketers who want to uncover keywords that can improve the bottom line: the search result it delivers.

Pro tip: If you want more information, try a dedicated keyword planner like my tool Ubersuggest.

What goals have you set for your content marketing strategy?

If you don’t know the answer to this question, now’s the time to take a step back and reassess your situation.

If you’ve already set a few goals, there’s a good chance that many of them are based on search engine results and related statistics. If so, you need to become familiar with the inner workings of Google Analytics.

No two people use Google Analytics in the same manner. But, there are several things to keep in mind if you’re a content marketing professional.

To start, you can use this tool to get an instant snapshot of your performance over a particular period of time.

This alone will give you a clear idea of whether or not you’re on track to achieving your goals.

From here, you have the ability to dig deeper for more data.

As you click-through to each section, you’ll find yourself digging deeper and deeper. For example, I always enjoy checking out my top pages for a particular time period.

This gives me a clear idea of what’s working and what isn’t, in regards to topic selection, the type of content that I’m providing, and whether readers are sticking around to see what I have to say.

The more you use Google Analytics, the easier it is to focus your time on the data that has the biggest impact on your site.

Similar in many ways to Google Analytics, the time you spend with this free tool is never a waste.

There’s so much to learn from the Google Search Console. You could soon find yourself spending hours combing through data.

In addition to reviewing your site’s overall health, there are several other things you can do with this tool.

My favorites are all listed under the Search Traffic drop-down:

For example, Search Analytics allows you to quickly analyze your performance on Google Search.

If you’ve ever wondered how your keywords are performing, you can click the Position box to learn more. This will show you the average position for all of the keywords that appear in Google Search.

Content marketers should become familiar with everything the Google Search Console can do for them. Even if you only use it to track a few key metrics, it’s well worth it in the long run.

Do you find it difficult to continually generate fresh ideas for your blog and other content marketing opportunities?

There’s no denying the fact that the search engine giant’s Keyword Planner provides hundreds of keywords related to your business and industry. Even so, this isn’t always good enough, when it comes to creating compelling content. In other words? You need another way to perform keyword research.

This is why I make it a habit of checking Google Trends, when I’m brainstorming new blog ideas.

With this tool, you can explore any topic to see what’s trending. You can also view “stories trending now,” to see if there’s anything that matches your industry and the approach that you want to take.

For example, the upcoming World Cup is sure to be a hot topic.

Is there a way to tie this into your blog or other content marketing efforts?

If you write about sports, you know there’ll be plenty of information to keep you busy. But, even if you don’t, you can use Google Trends to help you get creative.

Sticking with the example above, maybe you could write a blog post entitled: “How the World Cup is Using Marketing to Drive Views.”

With this title, you’re providing your audience with targeted information, while harnessing the power of a trending topic. It’s the best of both worlds.

You don’t need any experience or much time to use this tool. Simply type in your topic and review what Google spits out. From there, let your creative juices point you in the right direction.

Content marketers need a system for recording and tracking data. Furthermore, there may be times when you want to share this information with other team members.

I’ve found Google Sheets to be one of the simplest and most efficient ways to record data, track changes, and collaborate with others.

Here’s an example. I’m often asked about the best way to track email outreach campaigns. While there are many software tools for this, some of which provide a high level of features, some people don’t want to part with the money.

While Google Sheets may not offer the exact same functionality as these tools, it’s still one of the best ways to remain organized. It still has plenty of advanced features, such as the ability to create pivot tables and sort data.

As long as you’re on-board with the idea of regularly updating your spreadsheet, it’s powerful enough to have a positive impact on your content marketing efforts.

Pro tip: you can also use Google Sheets to create a to-do list, which is something most content marketers heavily rely on. Even with a basic list, you’ll always have a clear idea of what you need to accomplish.

Google Alerts is a Google tool that makes it easy to monitor the web for brand mentions, interesting new content, and news. Then, Google sends you an email once a day or once a week — your preference — with a notification if keywords you are interested in are mentioned.

In short, Google Alerts makes it easier to stay on top of news and new content without spending hours a day on social media.

For example, I could set a Google Alert for my name:

As a content marketer, I suggest setting alerts for:

  • Your brand name
  • Your personal name
  • Key industry terms
  • Major competitors

These alerts will help you see new trends fast and might even give you some great content to share on your social media channels.

A big part of content marketing is getting in touch and staying in touch with a variety of contacts.

There will be times when you spend hours sharing a new blog post with influencers in your space. Since email is one of the best ways of doing so, you better be comfortable with the application you’re using.

Gmail has long been my favorite email client, thanks in large part to the built-in functionality. That being said, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

I use a variety of plugins to ensure that my Gmail account does exactly what I need. For example, WiseStamp helps me to create a custom signature. Along with this, I use FollowUp.cc, so that I never forget to follow-up on an important email related to my content marketing efforts.

You don’t have to use Gmail as your email provider, but I strongly suggest giving it a second look, if you’re open to making a change.

With so many plugins to choose from, you should be able to customize your inbox to meet your every need as a content marketer. This alone can save you quite a bit of time and money.

Pro tip: Even if you prefer another email provider for daily communication with coworkers and clients, you can still use a Gmail account to carry out many aspects of your content marketing strategy.

For some companies, GMB isn’t a big deal. For others, such as local businesses, this is not something you don’t want to overlook.

With Google My Business, you can easily get a free business listing on Google. Better yet, this gives you the opportunity to provide a variety of information, including, but not limited to, your phone number, address, and business category.

The benefits of using Google My Business include:

  • The opportunity to get your business in front of customers interested in what you have to offer.
  • People can learn more about your company, based on the information that you provide.
  • Use images to show how your company is unique.
  • Show off customer reviews.

Remember, there is more to content marketing than producing high quality blog posts.

Think about the word “content” for a second. Anything you write about your company and/or anything you can share with others can be a big part of your content marketing plan.

Since Google My Business listings are front and center in the search results, you probably want to use this as part of your content marketing strategy.

If you stay current with my blog, you know I do my best to publish new posts as often as possible.

There’s a lot that goes into creating high-quality blog posts, so I’m always seeking new ways to improve my efficiency.

While I’ve used many tools over the years, to improve efficiency, Google Docs remains one of my favorites. Not only is it free, but it’s extremely simple to use. On top of this, there are tons of features and plugins to experiment with.

Here are some of the things that Google Docs as I work through the creation of a blog post:

  • Checks for spelling errors.
  • Provides an accurate word count.
  • Allows me to easily insert screenshots.
  • Makes it simple to share the document with the rest of my team, such as my editor.

As you know, a big part of content marketing is content creation. If you’re doing a lot of writing, make sure you’re 100% comfortable with the tool that you’re using.

There are other options out there, such a Microsoft Word, but Google Docs has been my top choice for many years.

How do you organize your day, as it relates to content marketing? What steps do you take to ensure that you’re maximizing the use of your time?

Google Calendar is one of the top organization tools among marketing professionals. It doesn’t have all of the features included in some of the paid tools, but it provides more than enough to keep you on track at all times.

Here are some of the ways that I like to use this free tool:

  • Create events for important marketing tasks.
  • Share my availability with team members.
  • Better understand “open spots” in my schedule, as this allows me to make the most of each day.

I don’t use Google Calendar as often as some of the other tools on this list, but it has definitely improved the way I organize my day.

As somebody who understands the demands placed on a marketing professional, I suggest looking into what Google Calendar offers. It may improve the way that you operate.

Conclusion

With only 42 percent of B2B marketers claiming they have a sophisticated content marketing strategy, it goes without saying that there’s always room for improvement, from keyword research that can boost your search volume to using long-tail keywords in your blog posts.

Personally, I enjoy every tool developed by Google. Some are more effective and powerful than others, but each one deserves a second look.

Have you used any of these free Google tools to improve your content marketing efforts? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.