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

The Best Free Graphic Design Software for Marketers and Beginners

The Best Free Graphic Design Software for Marketers and Beginners

When it comes to website success, what you see is what you get. While compelling text, blog, and social media content can help set your brand apart from the competition, the visual appeal of your site is the first thing users see when they follow backlinks or click through on search engine results.

Recent research found that it takes just 2.6 seconds for users’ eyes to focus on a specific area of your website. What’s more, it takes just 0.05 seconds for visitors to form a general first impression of your site — meaning you’ve got just one opportunity to change their minds or reinforce this impression, and it happens in the first three seconds of arrival.

As a result, it’s critical to create webpages that are both aesthetically appealing and contextually relevant. For larger businesses, this often means hiring dedicated graphic designers to develop eye-catching designs and deploy them consistently across web pages, but SMB budgets may not support this type of spending.

Take our free Graphic Design Essentials Course on HubSpot Academy to learn  design fundamentals and how to create simple designs.

What it Takes to Have a Great Design

Advanced graphic design skills require practice, practice, practice. Great designers can take one look at your webpage and see where current visual elements aren’t performing, then create visual content options that capture both your brand position and aesthetic style. But what about website and business owners who can’t afford the skills of a master graphic designer? How can they jumpstart the process of improving their site’s visual appeal?

The first step is taking a step back. Open your own webpage in multiple browsers and see what stands out. What’s the first thing you notice? Is it a specific image — or lack thereof? Is the image clear and concise, and does it drive action? What about the text formatting, color, and font? Here, the goal isn’t to drill down and analyze the nitty-gritty details of website design but instead put yourself in the digital shoes of a site visitor.

It’s also a good idea to ask for feedback from other staff members along with friends and family. While this comes with natural bias — they want your site to succeed, after all — it can help identify persistent or problematic visual elements and suggest an initial course of action.

In this piece, we’ll examine some of the best free graphic design software tools, where this software fits into your website strategy, and how they can help capture user interest from the moment they arrive.

What is the Best Free Graphic Design Software?

If your research turns up a problem — your images aren’t compelling, your text is hard to read and your color scheme hurts the eyes — you need a simple solution.

Free graphic design software offers the ability to customize the look and feel of your site without breaking the bank. But with a host of options on the market, which is the best fit for your business?

Two broad factors impact this outcome: Your current graphical ability and your potential use case. For example, if you have no experience with graphic tools of any kind, look for a solution that’s simple, streamlined, and does most of the work behind-the-scenes. If you have a graphic design background or natural inclination, tools with more robust customization and control may be a better fit.

If you’re planning to revamp your entire site with new colors, images, logos, and menus, meanwhile, you’ll need an in-depth solution that provides this level of control. If you’re starting small with minor changes to your color scheme or image quality, this kind of granular adjustment isn’t necessary.

So which software tool is the best fit for your business? Here’s a look at five free graphic design tools and some pros and cons for each.

The Best Free Graphic Design Software for Beginners and Mac Owners

The Best Free Graphic Design Software for Beginners

1. DesignWizard

designwizarrd interface

DesignWizard ranks among the best free graphic design software for beginners. The tool offers a large database of images along with a host of free templates (over 10,000) plus a simple, easy-to-use interface. You can also quickly create custom templates, but where DesignWizard excels is as a front-line, free graphic design tool for beginners.

Despite an easy-to-use interface and no upfront costs, it’s worth noting that most of the more powerful options in DesignWizard are only available in its for-pay version.

2. Setka Editor

Setka editor user interface

Setka bills itself as “everything you need to create content that converts”. This graphic design software is primarily focused on delivering enhanced content branding across your website, ad campaigns and social media posts — and works from within your current CMS or in the cloud.

The caveat? Although the Setka Editor is free to try for two weeks, companies will need to select a plan — Starter, Pro, or Enterprise — to unlock the full feature set and keep using Setka.

3. Canva

Whether you’re looking to create an ebook, infographic, business card, or email header, Canva has a template to simplify your process. The free web design tool, developed by non-designers, offers professional, easy-to-customize templates for just about any design need you can think of.

The drawback? You might need to invest in the paid version or try one of the more advanced free graphic design softwares as you skill up. While Canva’s free version is great for new designers working with templates, you can access more complex tools and features — such as team sharing — in the paid version.

4. Adobe Spark

adobe spark user interface

Adobe Spark is a free alternative to the company’s popular, for-pay Adobe Illustrator. While it’s not nearly as full-featured it does support integration with other Adobe products, is easy to use and comes with a host of free templates. If you’re looking to quickly create posters or videos for ad campaigns, Spark is a great choice.

The potential drawback? A limited feature set makes this a great starting point for beginners but less useful for more in-depth projects or experienced designers. Spark is available for both web and mobile, however, meaning you design anywhere, anytime.

Best Free Graphic Design Software for Mac

5. Krita

Krita is a free, open-source painting program made by artists, for artists. Ongoing development of this tool depends on donations and is driven by the needs of the designer community at large. It’s no surprise, then, that Krita includes a customizable user interface, feature-rich toolset, and a comprehensive resource manager.

For businesses looking to boost their graphic design impact, Krita is a great tool — if they have the help of an experienced designer. For companies in need of simple, streamlined solutions, meanwhile, other software on this list offers a better fit for beginners.

6. Gravit

Gravit is a vector design application created by the makers of Corel Draw. With a host of tools for creating vector art and a self-adjusting interface, Gravit earns its place among the best free graphic design software for Mac and Windows — the tool is also available for ChromeOS and Linux.

graphic designer software

Image Source

Worth noting? When you sign up for a free trial of Gravit you automatically get access to “Pro” features including the ability to work offline and see version history. However, you lose these features when your trial is up unless you’re willing to pay for a subscription.

Creating a Great First Impression

The first thing users see when they land on your website significantly impacts their perception of your brand — and their likelihood to become paying customers. The right free graphic design software can help ensure your site delivers visual value from first impressions to eventual purchases and streamlines the process of ongoing aesthetic adjustment.

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How to Start a Graphic Design and Marketing Agency Online

How to Start a Graphic Design and Marketing Agency Online

Starting a graphic design agency is a big undertaking. It requires a lot of planning, resources, and money. But, like anything else online, there are also hundreds of opportunities that you can cash in on if you have a good strategy.

Graphic design is in high demand. If you have the talents to create original graphics or designs, you can be involved in a wide variety of industries such as web design, graphic arts design, and even interior design. Graphic design is needed in a variety of contexts and people are often willing to pay well for this uniquely creative skill.

In this post, we will talk about the advantages of starting your design agency, as well as some of the resources and tips you may want to tap into to get your design company started.

design-agency

Why Start a Design Agency?

If you have talent in graphics or artistic design, you can tap into a lucrative opportunity through graphic design advertising. Many different types of people need professional designs today for their websites, logos, and other digital assets. The original design is important for branding, and many companies will pay you well for creating these graphics and other designs for them.

Other advantages in setting up your own top creative agency are that you will have an opportunity to establish yourself as a digital artist that can create some different items that you can sell online.

Some websites and platforms allow you to sell your digital assets online such as Digital Point and iStockphoto. These royalty-free image platforms can help you to create a sales platform that also allows you to sell premade designs. This can add to your revenue streams and help provide extra cash flow while you are building your business. It will also help you to establish yourself as a graphic design artist and promote your business on other platforms.

How to Start a Graphic Design agency

Once you decide to create your design agency or marketing solutions agency, there are some specific steps that you should take before you get started. As with any new business venture, you should do your research and your homework before you start launching your business. It’s best to make mistakes in the process of starting your company rather than make them with a client’s work. This can hurt your reputation if you are trying to promote yourself as a high-quality graphic designer. So make the worst mistakes in the early stages of developing your business and avoid the big mistakes once you get customers.

The following steps should serve to get you started with your design agency so that you can work on improving your technique and growing your business.

1. First, assess the tools and resources that you have already. Consider your talents as a part of your resources. Everything you can bring to your business will help define what it becomes in the future. The tools you use can include graphic design tools, online resources, and images that you will use in your designs. It’s a good idea to collect your graphics and images ahead of time so that you will have everything you need before you get started. However, you will always want to look for other tools and assets that will help you to grow your business as you get new ideas. So stay flexible to changes.

2. Think about the tools you’ll need to get started.– You need to do some research to find out what you’ll need to start and maintain your business. You may need to download a good selection of artistic design software such as Adobe PhotoShop, Canva, or other online tools. Then you’ll need to practice using them until you master the tools before you start taking clients.

3. Consider your budget. Decide how much money you need to start your business and take notice of any resources you can tap into to get the money you need. The sources of your reserve can come from a variety of sources such as bank accounts, business loans, or other sources. It’s best not to borrow any more than you have to when you are getting started with a new business. But sometimes you have to do this as you are gaining ground with your business cash flow.

4. Connect with other design experts.– One of the best things you can do when you are getting started with your design business is to connect to other well-established designers. By connecting to some of the most influential people in your industry, you’ll be able to use their power to get you more leads, while helping them out, as well. Make sure you arrange it to where the influencer also gets something out of it, such as a plug for a new eBook or a link back to their website. That way, they will want to help you more.

5. Start a website and a blog.– Your website and blog will serve as your virtual real estate that people will come to find out how they can purchase your services. You should have an online portfolio (see #7) on your website on a separate page that people can view to see the kind of work you do. Also, make sure and include your contact information on your website and your blog so people can contact you.

6. Use media such as videos and podcasts or infographics to promote your work.– People love podcasts and video. You can attract a larger number of viewers if you use media on topics that appeal to your target audience. Videos can help attract a much larger portion of your audience, especially if you address issues that matter to your customers. If you are design company owner, you may want to illustrate how you do some of your work or talk about topics in design such as 3D design techniques or other things you can share with your viewers.

Podcasts are also a good asset to add to your website, and listeners can take your podcast with them with their mobile devices. Infographics are also a great idea because they combine high-quality graphics with significant data and information. You can use infographics to promote your ideas and design services in a streamlined way.

7. Create an online portfolio.– If you do creative work in the design industry, you need to have an online portfolio that viewers can see. This will give them an idea of the kind of work you do, and they can communicate with you about what type of designs they may want. Onlne portfolios are important because they illustrate the kind of work you do. This will help you match up your services with people who are interested in your skills and who may want to hire you.

create-online-portfolio

How to Create an Infographic for your Design Agency

Creating an infographic for your design company is a good idea because it can help you to promote your business to the people that are most likely to do business with you. Use samples from some of your best work to attract your clientele.

You can feature a particular sample on your main page or show a video that highlights one of your best creations, and then provide a form where people can sign up for a free estimate.

How an Infographic Can Help Get New Leads

If you are considering creating an infographic for your design business, look at some samples by professional infographic design companies first. This will give you an idea of how good infographics look. Then you can brainstorm ideas that you want to include on your infographic based on your business goals.