Here’s the scenario. Your boss just got confused looking at a Gantt Chart (perhaps my Excel version) and said they want something simple. Like a timeline of events happening during the course of the project. Not everything, just key milestones and dates and stuff like that. Well, you quickly go hoping to Visio…and…oh, what’s that? You don’t have Visio?

You guessed it! Here is an Excel project timeline template so you can satisfy these scenarios, and any other scenario you run in to where you need to generate a project timeline. If interested, stick around and read my article on this template. If you are just looking for the download so you can get to charting your Excel timeline…see below.

Excel Project Timeline Template

Check out this template, and all my others on my Excel Templates page.

Availability: Tested in Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013
Features: Project Timeline, Slicing & Dynamic Charting, Happy Bosses 🙂
Functionality: This Excel timeline template will automatically adjust based on your time span. Whether it is a 10 day project or a 10 year project, you can put together a simple timeline and have it do the work for you. Got too many milestone? Just use one of the slicers (or multiple) to identify particular milestones you want to show, or show them all!

Excel Timeline Template 33.12 KB 14569 downloads

Use this template to mark items on a timeline for presentation. ...

Creating the Project Timeline Chart

Ok, this one wasn’t too bad once I figured out what chart to use, but getting that sorted out took me some time. Of course, I use visio for plotting timelines, but I keep forgetting that not everyone has MS Project and MS Visio, so in comes Excel to the rescue!. I looked at every possible chart option on how to do this, and then it came to me…Scatter plots! I could build a scatter plot based off an Excel Table, accounting for both time frames as the axis and position of items on the timeline as the plotted items.

But how did you draw the lines from the axis to the plot? Ha, simple…just told it to show error rules. Once I got this in my mind it was literally just styling that took up the majority of my time. That said though, the timeline does have some limitations.

For instance, the timeline does not go back in time very well. It will, but if you need to go before the year 1900, then it will not work. Why? Well, Excel doesn’t consider anything before 1900 as a date. That said, neither should you though if you are creating a project timeline! Unless of course, you have a time machine…

The other limitations…well, I can’t think of any more at the moment, but for those interested in the build please download the Excel Timeline and feel free to give it a look. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below.