Some people dread timelines because they seem hard to make. While many do have a tough time dealing with the useful but intimidating little things, others just can’t see why it’s so much trouble when you can simply tell the events in order. And if you actually use your timeline, you’ll find yourself right back where you started, with a timeline that’s boring and ineffective because it looks like everyone else’s.

When you break it down, timelines are really only a few different elements put together: a line, some labels, and a handful of shapes including bars, ends, and dots. They may not sound especially inspiring when you read them off one after the other but, in reality, it’s all in the presentation and how you use them that really counts. Here we’ll show you some tips and tricks to perk up your timelines and make each one unique and engaging.

Before we get into the creative part, though, there are a few things to consider when making any timeline:

1. Make sure your target audience knows what a timeline is.

If you are creating the timeline for kids, they’ll have an easier time understanding it. If you are making one about evolution or famous monarchs, that’s different — adults will probably understand what it’s all about more easily than younger children. Either way, take into account how your target audience sees things and think about whether you’re using the right words among other things.

2. Keep your timelines simple and easy to read.

Don’t draw borders on every single country or dot around like there’s no tomorrow: keep it as simple as possible and let the design of your timeline take center stage. Everything you put into it should make sense. If you’re telling the story of World War Two, clutter is not your friend. You can take it further and make things elegant or quirky if you like but it’s all about striking a good balance between function and form.

3. Make sure your timeline covers enough ground.

You could try to squeeze in every single event ever known to man but, as a rule of thumb, a timeline is best when it covers a certain period or event. If you’re going to be using it in school, there are specific rules about what can and cannot go on the timelines you create from now on but even if you’re making one for yourself at home then try to give yourself a time limit according to your needs and what you want to put in it.

4. Think about the sequence.

This may seem like a no-brainer but when we say this we mean you should think about whether to put things chronologically or not. In some cases, putting them next to each other might make more sense depending on what you’re trying to get across. If you’re telling the story of how an empire rose and fell, for example, then maybe laying out the various rulers in their specific periods will be more useful than getting into strict dates.

5. You can always ask people what they want to see on there.

Design is all about communication so don’t be afraid to seek advice from others! If you’re working on something with a group of people then ask them what they want to see and if they don’t like it at least you can give their suggestions a shot.

How To Make Timelines Fun and Engaging

There’s nothing wrong with using a very straightforward timeline – they can be useful and work just fine for what they’re meant to do. Of course, you know that if you’re reading this then you probably want something with a little bit more style and life than just plain text on a line!

When creating your timelines it’s perfectly okay (and encouraged) to think outside of the box and try new things. Obviously, this won’t work for every timeline you make but there are a few simple steps that can be taken to give your timelines a twist from time to time:

1. Add some color!

There’s no need for drab black and grey designs on any type of timeline — you can have some color! Use bright colors if you want to let people know this is a fun timeline or maybe go for something more subtle — it’s up to you. The important thing is that your design looks appealing, after all.

2. Add images and other visuals.

Not everyone has access to old paintings of kings and queens so why not add in some images to give your timeline a personal touch? There are plenty of free stock photos and icons out there that can be used in creative ways. You could even use images from the same period — it’ll make your timeline more interesting when you’ve shown a few different views on a certain time period.

3. Think about fonts.

If you’re going to be creating a lot of timelines then it’s okay to set yourself up with a basic design that you can reuse from time to time. As long as you keep the same theme and colors, for example, but play around with fonts a little bit then your timeline should stay somewhat similar without looking too dull.

4. Be visual.

Timelines can be really boring to look at when they’re all words and numbers. To make things more interesting try using colors, icons, or shapes to represent certain events or periods of history. It might take a little bit of time but it’ll certainly pay off in the end!

5. Try different layouts.

There’s no reason why you have to keep your timelines in a straight line unless you want them that way! If you’re going for a “chronological” timeline then, by all means, go for it but if there’s a certain period where a round layout would work better then why not give it a shot?

One great tip when making a timeline is to use Venngage — an online timeline maker and one of the best infographic makers that provides a wide range of timeline templates for everyone. To give you a better idea, here are some timeline examples from their website!






Timelines can be fun to make and they’re not always easy but if you keep these tips in mind then it should go more smoothly than expected. Try different things, don’t be afraid of trying something new, use Venngage! Your timeline doesn’t have to be boring and too formal, create a timeline that’s fun and engaging today and you’ll see how it can make a difference!

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