How to Create an Event Timeline

Things You'll Need

  • Paper or Posterboard
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Fine Tipped Markers

Event timelines are a useful way to visualize information. It is no wonder that they are popular assignments. However, they can be frustrating to create without a plan. By taking a few minutes to organize your information, you can make creating these timelines as simple as reading them. Once you have mastered this technique, don't be surprised if you start making them for your own use.

Review your subject and make a list of important events and their dates. Write down the event dates and then put them in order when you are done. Make sure to check the spelling of names and locations carefully.

Compare the dates of your earliest and latest dates in order to decide the endpoints of your timeline. Look for events which are close together. Are there any of these which you can combine or eliminate?

Decide on the scale for your timeline. As an example, if your paper or posterboard is ten inches wide and you have 100 years to cover, each decade would correspond to one inch.

Draw a line with a ruler and make small pencil marks to indicate your scale. These are primarily for your own use and can be erased or covered up as you make your timeline.


Decide if you will need to stack events, or make multiple timelines in order to include all of the important information. Try to keep related events together.

Make markings for each event, using your scale as a guideline. Write the date and a brief summary of the event with fine-tipped markers, alternating between writing above or below the timeline in order to avoid clutter.

Make a heading for your chart which indicates the subject and the range of dates which your timeline has summarized.

If an event occurred during a range of time, you can change the color of the line itself to reflect this fact. As an example, you could color the Paleozoic era in purple and the Mesozoic era in green in order to show the general time in which events within the timeline occurred.

Color code different types of events, such as wars, birth dates or inventions, so that they can be picked out more easily.

Add charts or illustrations related to your topic in an unused corner of your timeline. You can also use a chart to add information which would not fit inside the body of the timeline.