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Timeline Chart In Excel

Updated on April 26, 2024
Article byPradeep S
Edited byAshish Kumar Srivastav
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Is Timeline Chart In Excel?

An Excel timeline chart is called a milestone chart in project management terms. It is used to track all the stages of a project visually. As a project manager, deliver the project to the end-user as committed before the start of the project.

So, to help a project manager visualize things in Excel, we can create a timeline chart.

What Is Timeline Chart In Excel

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Key Takeaways

  • Timeline chart in Excel is a milestone chart in project management. It visually tracks all project stages and helps a project manager to deliver the project as committed to the end-user.
  • To create a milestone chart, follow the steps outlined above, as it differs from the built-in Excel chart. It is a simple way to visualize project schedules.
  • Although formatting can be challenging, investing additional time into it can improve your skills and make it easier in the long run.

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How To Create Timeline Chart In Excel?

Timeline chart is highly used to track businesses and projects. In this article, let us learn how to create timeline (milestone) chart in excelChart In ExcelIn Excel, a graph or chart lets us visualize information we've gathered from our data. It allows us to visualize data in easy-to-understand pictorial ways. The following components are required to create charts or graphs in Excel: 1 - Numerical Data, 2 - Data Headings, and 3 - Data in Proper Order.read more.

You can download this Milestone Chart Excel template here – Milestone Chart Excel template

Examples

Example #1

The first thing to creating a timeline chart is to get the data ready. You need a task list with an estimated time of the task. Below is the data we have prepared for this timeline chart example.

Timeline Chart Example 1.1

Let us create a timeline chart in Excel by following the below steps.

  1. The first thing we need to do is to create a modified data table. Insert a helper column and insert the number 10 with one positive number and one negative number.


    Milestone Chart Example 1.2

  2. Select the data, go to the “INSERT” tab, and insert an Excel “Line with Markers.”


    Insert Line Chart with Markers

  3. Now, right-click on the chart and choose the “Select Data” option.


    Select Data Option

  4. In the below window, remove the legend entries.


    Remove Legend Entries

  5. Now, click on the “Add” button.


    Milestone Chart Example Step 5

  6. In the below window, for “Series name,” enter “Date,” and for “Series values,” select the task list.


    Milestone Chart Example Step 6

  7. Now, click on “OK.” Then, in the same window, click on the “Edit” option on the right-hand side, “Horizontal (Category) Axis Labels.”


    Milestone Chart Example Step 7

  8. In the below selection window, choose date values.


    Milestone Chart Example Step 8

  9. Click on “OK.” Now, click the “Add” button in the same window again.


    Milestone Chart Example Step 9

  10. Now, in the next window, enter “Helper” for “Series name,” and for “Series values,” choose helper column values.


    Milestone Chart Example Step 10

  11. After all this, we need to do some formatting touches. Now, click on the line chart and press the shortcut key “Ctrl + 1” to open the “Format Data Series” option to the right of the chart.


    Format Data Series

  12. Go to the “Fill” and “Line” options. Then, under the “Line” option, select the “No line” option.


    No line Option

  13. Click on the “Design” tab with the same selection. Then, under the “Design” tab, go to “Add Chart Elements.”


    Add Chart Element

  14. Under “Add Chart Elements,” go to “Error Bars” in Excel and choose “More Error Bars Options.”


    Error Bars Option

  15. As soon as you click on “More Error Bars Options,” it will open up a formatting option to the right side again.


    More Error Bar Options

  16. Click on “Error Bar Options,” select direction as “Minus,” and “Error amount percentage” as “100%.”


    Milestone Chart Example Step 16

  17. . Now we have a chart like this.


    Milestone Chart Example Step 16.1

  18. Select the horizontal flat line chart and make this a “Secondary Axis.”


    Secondary Axis

  19. Now, delete the “Secondary Axis” vertical values.


    Delete Secondary Axis Values

  20. Next, “Add Data Labels” to the chart.


    Data Labels

  21. Selecting data labels, press “Ctrl + 1” to open the formatting window. From the formatting window, select “Category Name.”


    Category Name

  22. Select the chart and click the “Select Data” option. For example, in the below window, choose “Helper” and click on the “Edit” option.


    Milestone Chart Example Step 21

  23. For “Axis label range,” choose an “Estimated Date.”


    Choose Estimated Date

  24. Select “Dot” data labels and make this data label “Values From Cells.” For example, choose values from A2 to A9.


    Milestone Chart Example Step 23

  25. Now, select the “Dot” and choose the “Marker Option” to make this a delta shapes marker with black color.


    Milestone Chart Example Step 24

Now, our milestone chart is ready to rock.

Milestone Chart

Example #2

Consider the below table showing tasks and date.

Timeline chart - Example 2 - table

Let us create a timeline chart in Excel by following the below steps.

  1. The first thing we need to do is to create a modified data table. Insert a helper column and insert the number 10 with one positive number and one negative number.
Timeline chart - Example 2
  1. Select the data, go to the “INSERT” tab, and insert an Excel “Line with Markers.”
Select the data, go to the INSERT tab

3. Now, right-click on the chart and choose the “Select Data” option.

4. In the Select Data Source window, remove the legend entries.

5. Now, click on the “Add” button.

Timeline chart - Example 2 - Step 5

6. In the below window, for “Series name,” enter “Date,” and for “Series values,” select the task list.

Timeline chart - Example 2 - Step 6

7. Now, click on “OK.” Then, in the same window, click on the “Edit” option on the right-hand side, “Horizontal (Category) Axis Labels.”

Timeline chart - Example 2 - Step 7

8. In the Axis Labels window, choose date values.

9. Click on “OK.” Now, click the “Add” button again.

10. Now, in the Edit Series window, enter “Helper” for “Series name,” and for “Series values,” choose helper column values.

11.  After all this, we need to do some formatting touches. Now, click on the line chart and press the shortcut key “Ctrl + 1” to open the “Format Data Series” option to the right of the chart.

Timeline chart - Example 2 - Step 11

12.  Go to the “Fill” and “Line” options. Then, under the “Line” option, select the “No line” option.

Timeline chart - Example 2 - Step 12

13. Click on the “Design” tab with the same selection. Then, under the “Design” tab, go to “Add Chart Elements.”

Timeline chart - Example 2 - Step 13

14. Under “Add Chart Elements,” go to “Error Bars” in Excel and choose “More Error Bars Options.”

Timeline chart - Example 2 - Step 14

15. As soon as you click on “More Error Bars Options,” it will open up a formatting option to the right side again.

Example 2 - Step 15

16. Click on “Error Bar Options,” select direction as “Minus,” and “Error amount percentage” as “100%.”

Example 2 - Step 24

17. Now we will get a chart.

18. Select the horizontal flat line chart and make it “Secondary Axis.”

19. Now, delete the “Secondary Axis” vertical values.

20. Next, “Add Data Labels” to the chart.

21. Selecting data labels, press “Ctrl + 1” to open the formatting window. From the formatting window, select “Category Name.”

Category Name

22. Select the chart and click the “Select Data” option. For example, in the below window, choose “Helper” and click on the “Edit” option.

Example 2 - Step 22

23. For “Axis label range,” choose an “Estimated Date.”

24. Select “Dot” data labels and make this data label “Values From Cells.” For example, choose values from A2 to A9.

Example 2 - Step 24

Now, our milestone chart is ready to rock.

Example 2 - Step 24 - chart

Uses Of Timeline Chart In Excel

  • Timeline chart in Excel is also called as milestone chart in Excel.
  • It is used to track the time taken to complete a task
  • Similarly, we can also use it to find the status of a project and resources.

Important Things To Note

  • The timeline chart (milestone) is not the built-in Excel chart, so we must follow all the above steps to create our chart.
  • It is a simple visualization technique to track all your project schedules.
  • It does not seem easy because of formatting techniques. But, the more time you spend on this, the more comfortable you will be.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the components of timeline chart?

Excel offers various components of a timeline chart. A timeline can be represented using various visual elements. These elements help depict events, progress, or a story from beginning to end. A milestone is a visual representation of an event or a significant point in time, often showing a date. A time bar, on the other hand, represents a specific length of time. Lastly, an interval is a visual representation of the time that elapses within the timeline sequence.

2. What is the purpose of timeline chart?

A timeline is a visual representation of how a specific set of resources are utilized over time. It can be a useful tool in various scenarios such as managing a software project to display the tasks and their respective timelines or scheduling meeting rooms for a conference. In both cases, a timeline can be a reasonable choice for visualization.

3. What is a timeline chart called?

A timeline chart is called a Gantt chart which is a visual tool that shows a project’s timeline, including the start and end dates of tasks and resources. It helps project managers plan, schedule, and track progress and is a valuable tool for optimizing project efficiency and productivity.

Recommended Articles

This article has been a guide to Timeline Chart in Excel. Here, we discuss how to create a timeline (milestone) chart in Excel with the help of an example and a downloadable Excel template. You can learn more from the following articles: –