Timelines are used by authors and students to show the passage of large time blocks. These linear organizers find their way into education commonly, but can also serve as great visual tools for business. Due to their linear structure, they help diversify presentations as Gantt charts, linear graphs, and roadmaps, while also helping the speaker make a point more coherent and visual.
Regardless if you are a business trainer, student, teacher, or designer, a timeline can come in handy. To help you create stunning timelines we will discuss the top 15 timeline maker tools online free and paid.
Table of contents
- What Is A Timeline?
- What Is A Timeline Infographic?
- When to Use A Timeline Infographic
- How to Create A Timeline Infographic
- How To Get Started With A Timeline Maker
- Timeline Templates Examples (Including Design Tips)
- Timeline Video, A New Trend?
- Top 15 Timeline Makers (With Pros and Cons)
- Timeline Templates (Do-It-Yourself)
- Hire A Freelancer To Do It For You
What Is A Timeline?
Timelines are visual representations of information that assist with categorizing the processes involved with the execution and completion of projects. Using this tool is the best way to develop a clear understanding and quick overview of everything that’s happening. A timeline can be educational, personal, or professional. Regardless what it will be used for, every timeline should include duration and dates.
Timelines are commonly used for project management and Historical Studies.
What Is A Timeline Infographic?
It’s obvious that infographics are our favorites, so it’s only fitting that we discuss how timelines are used with infographics. What is a timeline infographic? It’s a type of graphic that visually displays information using a progression of time.
The goal is to spotlight information by associating it with time periods, so you can address the illustrated data in detail. It’s a popular format, and it’s commonly used in presentations. You’ll also find it in many other applications, as it’s a versatile format that can be used to illustrate any type of time progression and all related information.
The bottom line is that a timeline infographic is an infographic that uses a timeline to get the point across.
Check out our step-by-step guide on ‘How to Make an Infographic’ for many great tips on making high-quality infographics.
When to Use A Timeline Infographic
Timeline infographics are tools commonly used in Marketing, most commonly for illustrating planned results over time. Knowing where to use a timeline infographic is important, so here are a few places they work great:
In a business, work processes require structure. These visual infographic tools are the best way to achieve this, as you’ll use it to illustrate all steps in one continuous progression.
There’s no doubt you’ve seen one of these before! This type of timeline infographic can be used to represent a company’s history, a person’s history, or even the evolution of the market. Using a history timeline requires you to format the milestones into specific periods such as day, month, or year. In other words, you’ll use a history timeline to tell a story that’s contextualized with time. For example, checkout our ‘History of British Rail Travel‘ timeline infographic example.
This is one of the best data visualization techniques you can use in business presentations. When used this way, a timeline infographic makes it possible to illustrate any scenario. For example, you could use a timeline to show a marketing campaign’s effectiveness over a period of days, months, or years.
Do you ever submit project plans to a marketing team? If so, try using a timeline infographic to illustrate each action within a time frame. Each element will show the tasks that need to be done and specify the date by which this should occur.
How to Create A Timeline Infographic
Time needed: 2 days.
Creating an effective, high-quality timeline infographic takes time and effort. There are certain steps you should follow to make the process easier. We’ve compiled everything you need to know about how to create a timeline infographic below:
- Begin With An Outline
Most people agree that beginning with an outline is the easiest way to gather all main ideas and supporting information into one place. During this step simply use a piece of paper and lay out your main idea, all time periods, and their respective events.
Don’t worry about the aesthetics, as this is just for you to gather thoughts and begin structuring your ideas.
- Define Milestones
While milestones will be included in your infographic? This will first depend on what type of time infographic you’re creating. For example, if it’s a marketing plan, the milestones will act as stages for the project.
The most important thing to remember with this step is that every milestone should be clearly defined. The more details you can include, the more it helps inform your audience.
- Template Design
This step is where you will use one of the free or paid timeline makers that we will discuss later. So, begin by choosing one that works for you, and then create an account.
Simply choose a timeline template that fits your project and then begin bringing it to life. The design process is crucial because visual features are what make the timeline infographic what it is. So, be sure to spend enough time choosing high-quality graphics that are relevant and help better get your point across.
After you’ve chosen a timeline template, the timeline maker tools make it very easy to drag and drop elements with ease. Also, most of them allow you access to thousands of fonts, icons, and other graphics.
- Choose Appropriate Visuals and Fonts
Speaking of fonts and other visuals, there are some tips you should keep in mind when designed these elements:
– Choose a font that’s readable to make your information clearer.
– Distribute your content in an organized manner.
– Use visuals that respect the visual language of your company.
– Utilize thematic sources to display information and data.
– Arrange the data in a way that’s clear and easy to read.
- Are There Revisions Required?
Is your timeline infographic completed? Now is the time you’ll want to send it through a revision process. During this time ensure the following things:
– Is the information presented clearly?
– Is all data correct?
– Are all elements visible?
- Publish & Promote
Once you’ve created your timeline infographic, it’s time for publishing. The timeline maker tool of your choice will help with this step. Many of them allow you to download a high-quality PNG for sharing. Or you may even have the option to share a link, this is an easy way to share among teammates and colleagues.
When it comes to promotion, you’ll have to determine which channels will get you to your target audience. Be sure to choose all platforms your potential audience will be to ensure your infographic reaches the most people possible.
How To Get Started With A Timeline Maker
If you’re looking to make a timeline, then you’ll need the help of a timeline maker tool. So, how do you get started with a timeline maker?
What Is The Goal of Your Timeline?
The first step to making a timeline is determining the project’s scope. Thus, you’ll want to outline all deliverables that will be produced during the project, and end with the final deliverable.
Determine What’s Needed To Reach Your Goal
Your timeline will have each deliverable represent a milestone. Each point between milestones are tasks that need to be completed to create the deliverable. To help make sure you have a complete task list, it’s best to use a work breakdown structure. This tree diagram will begin with your main goal at the top and all steps leading up to it below.
Evaluate Your Item List
During this step you’ll focus on looking over every task you listed, and ask yourself if it helps achieve the end goal. Is the task specific enough? This process will help prioritize tasks and determine what tasks can be completed within your time constraints, and which tasks to exclude.
Insert Timeline Dates
Each task should also have an estimated duration. Together, these two pieces of information fit together inside the timeframe of your project or timeline. Hence, it’s crucial to come up with estimated times it will take for each task. To make it more accurate, use all information such as personal opinion, statistical analysis, and historical data.
Create Your Timeline With Software or Paper
Finally, you can begin mapping out your timeline. Now that you’ve collected all elements, all you have to do is assemble the final project. How you will compose the information is up to you, it can as simple or digital as you’d like. Just keep in mind that there are pros and cons with each, but a rule of thumb is that if there’s a change the data will be changed, software is better.
As you will see, there are lots of free and paid timeline creator tools online from which to choose. Or you can make one yourself with the help of a timeline template. For an example, check out Infographia.
Timeline Templates Examples (Including Design Tips)
Timeline templates are a very important part of your timeline infographic design. They can help you layout the data, detail an agenda, highlight important dates, or spotlight information people may otherwise miss.
Follow These Steps to Customize Your Timeline Template
- Choose a timeline template that features a layout to best fit your story.
- Keep in mind that some templates are free, and others are paid. However, most timeline creator websites are free to use.
- Add, rearrange, or remove points in time with timeline maker drag-and-drop tools.
- Input your events and dates into designated areas.
- Customize the icons, fonts, and colors to make your idea come to life.
Timeline Templates Examples
Popular search queries for timeline templates include examples such as: Historical timeline, wedding time template, MCU template (Marvel Cinematic Universe) and when was the bible written timeline.
Here are some other timeline templates that are common to use:
Project Management Timeline
Project managers juggle many tasks at one time. A timeline template can serve as the perfect addition to your proposal, presentation, project management software, project plan, or any other information you need to share with the team to keep them on track.
One of the best ways to organize information and make it stand out is to use color-coding. You can do this by assigning specific colors to each time frame or activity to make them standout.
Gantt Timelines to Deliver Projects On Time
If you’re a manager looking to organize delivery dates for multiple projects and teams, then you should make use of a Gantt timeline. In this example, still include color-coding, but this time do so to the teams rather than times.
History Timeline Template
If you need to lay out the history of a person, product, or thing, then this is the type of template you want. This is a common example, as they are everywhere. Check out this example – History of Social Work Timeline.
Multi-Week Planning Timelines
These are perfect for managers who need to break down complex projects into chunks of more manageable tasks. These timelines help you get more done in shorter bursts.
Business Timeline Template
Time crunches associated with running a business can be brutal. If you’re in a situation where you are short on time, try experimenting with project timelines that span two-weeks.
Event Timeline Template
A good amount of event planning in today’s world is completed virtually. An event timeline template can help block hours, days, weeks, etc. Many experts say that scheduling your time in blocks effectively to prioritize and organize tasks. It’s a great idea to use different colors for blocks with different appointments or tasks. A perfect example of this type is Content Marketing and SEO: The Timeline of Key Events.
Timeline Video, A New Trend?
Perhaps you’d like to take the visuals game up a notch. Have you considered a timeline video? Depending on the situation, a video may be more effective than an infographic. For example, it’s common to find timeline videos used for educational purposes. However, sometimes they can be appropriate in business settings as well.
In fact, some enthusiasts and companies use timeline videos to give background on classic products and characters. Check out this example – Super Mario Timeline | A Visual History of Mario.
It’s also common for companies offering products to create timeline videos to teach customers information they need to know. A good example of this is – On Track – Timeline Video Template.
On a side note, what is cooler than creating a historical timeline video or a timeline video of your kids growing up, just imagine! It’s a keepsake that they would always cherish, as would you!
For now, timeline videos are a trending technique, but we’ll have to wait to see if it sticks around.
If you’d like to learn more about creating high-quality timeline videos, be sure to check out our guide to making explainer videos for free.
Top 15 Timeline Makers (With Pros and Cons)
Now for the information for which you’ve been waiting! Let’s discuss the top 15 timeline makers. Regardless of which you choose, they have individual pros and cons. So, you’ll need to determine what you need the timeline maker to do, and then pick accordingly.
Here are the top 15 Timeline Makers:
Visme is a big name in the industry. Their software is great because it allows you to upload icons, graphs, charts, and audio. They also have a large collection of fonts and templates from which to choose. Perhaps the best feature is Visme’s analytics feature which outlines time spent and views.
On the downside, the platform only allows you three free projects. Otherwise, you must sign up for a subscription which ranges from $7 to $9 per month.
Venngage is another popular option that allows you to browse infographic templates by type including geographic, statistical, comparison, and informational. While this may seem like a small feat, it really makes a difference when you’re looking through hundreds of templates. They also have a large selection of free icons, templates, maps, and charts.
The cons with choosing Venngage include having to pay for unlimited PDF exports, image uploads, and templates. Though the template maker is free to use at first, they do have monthly fees ranging from $19 to $49 per month.
Creately is a great option as it’s user-friendly, intuitive, has a clean interface, and is super easy to use. Many people love this platform because it allows you to collaborate with others who don’t have paid subscriptions.
On the downside, it can get a big laggy when dealing with many blocks and during zoom, the undo function doesn’t always work as expected, there are occasional glitches, and some functionality is missing.
They do offer paid subscriptions which can be paid by the month or year. Overall, this is a viable timeline maker tool that competes well with the others on our list.
We all know that Adobe is a trusted name in graphic design, so it’s only fitting they have a timeline maker tool. This is a free timeline tool that gives you the power to grow your business. They offer many timeline templates, thousands of icons and images, and you can save, print, share, or import into a different project.
The only downside is that they don’t let you pay for individual timeline templates, you must have a monthly subscription. They offer the platform for a low fee of $9.99 per month.
LucidChart is a well-known timeline maker that is easy to use and intuitive. Many people like it because the user-interface is flexible and the system gives you suggestions on how to place information. There are no installations required which makes sharing projects easier.
Though the program can be tricky to use when your project contains a lot of elements, once you get used to it this goes away. They offer a free trial, but subscriptions range from $8 to $9 per month.
Preceden is a great option because they offer free tools with no ads or watermarks. You can download projects in many formats including PDF, PNG, XML, or CSV. Their interface is easy to use, you have the option to make timelines private, and they offer free upgrade and add-ons when you upgrade to their premium plan. This is nice because not everyone offers extras for free.
On the downside, the free version only allows you to create one timeline with up to ten events on it. You’ll also find that other features are locked, and you can’t embed their timelines into your WordPress site because of security reasons.
Timegraphics is another option for a top timeline maker tool. With their site you can download many formats such as DOC, PDF, PPT, and PNG, and their free version is ad- and watermark-free. Unlike others, Timegraphics allows you to embed timelines on your website and can choose if they’re public or private. They also support SEO indexing.
The only real downside is that you can only create one free timeline with up to seven media links and 18 events. It’s also worth mentioning that they only have one timeline template to use.
Vizzlo is a great timeline maker tool that allows you to choose from over 100 templates for free. You can even create your own charts from custom layouts. They have one of the best platforms, as they offer many benefits.
The biggest con is that if you don’t have a subscription your projects include watermarks. They have plans for as low as $11 per month.
If you are a student or enthusiast looking for a free platform, Gitkraken is it! If you are looking for professional reasons the price is only $49 per year. Many people choose them because their cost is more affordable than others.
On the downside, it has glitches now and then, but nothing too bad.
#10 Tiki-Toki (Interactive)
Tiki-Toki is a free timeline maker that offers a beautiful interface, user-friendly system that you can use to make high-quality timelines. With the free account you can create one full timeline which you can share with others. Otherwise, they have subscription offers for teachers, individuals, and businesses.
The drawback is that the free subscription only allows you to make one timeline and there are ads with the free account.
Smartdraw is an easy timeline maker that helps with presentations, projects, and history. Touted as one of the fasted timeline creators available, it’s a popular option that offers powerful formatting, quick-start templates, and free support.
Their subscription fee is $9.95 per month but does require a software download and install.
#12 Office Timeline (Powerpoint)
Office Timeline is a great option for a timeline creator that’s versatile. Timelines can be downloaded in several formats, and the free version is free from ads and watermarks. You also have the choice to utilize offline tools if that suits your work style better.
One thing to keep in mind is that the free offline version only allows you access to three templates, so you’ll need a subscription to access their entire library.
Much like Office Timeline, Timetoast offers a free version that’s free of ads and watermarks, and you can also download timelines in several formats. This program allows users to upload their own photos, and in each event they can upload an image, link, or leave text only.
The only downside is that there are few options for customization and there’s no technical support.
Smartsheet is a free online timeline maker that offers a comprehensive collection of tools and templates to make beautiful online timelines. The best part is that the offer a free 30-day trial which requires no credit card for sign up. During the trial you have access to every feature and can make an informed decision whether it’s the right program for you or not.
You may not like that they are not upfront about future pricing. In fact, there’s no mention of cost, as you have to contact them for the information.
PicMonkey is not only simple to use, but they also offer plenty of content, so there are no worries about making something unique. This platform is great because it’s inexpensive, organized, constantly updated, and many users love the search bar.
On the downside, PicMonkey does not have animations or video editing. Also keep in mind that you lose access to certain tools if you don’t have a pro account.
Timeline Templates (Do-It-Yourself)
For those of you who are more design savvy, there are several viable ways to make timeline templates on your own. Let’s take a look at the top timeline template programs where you can start from scratch and make your own design.
Canva is a great option for entrepreneurs, online marketers, and small business owners. If you’re looking for a Photoshop alternative, this is it. While it is much easier than Adobe’s Photoshop to learn, it still does take some basic graphic design skills.
A downside is that they only have a certain number of templates available, so if you don’t customize you run the risk of your work looking similar to another company’s.
Lucid Press has an awesome platform for those who want to be creative but don’t have design skills. Their site is easy to use and will help create high-quality designs easily.
At first, Lucid Press can be a bit overwhelming but if you take your time to thoroughly look over the functions, it becomes easier to use.
Infographia is a well-known and popular platform for creating beautiful infographic and timelines. They offer a full suite of functions that are easy to use, and a collection of professionally-designed templates for quick creations.
This platform does tend to be a bit more expensive than other options. However, they do have sales now and then which makes it more reasonably priced.
What doesn’t the Office suite do? Very little apparently! If you currently pay for an Office subscription, then you can use their Office Timeline software to create eye-catching timelines that are unique and professional.
Important note: You can’t access this program without a subscription to the full Office suite.
Last, but not least, you can check out or article on the ‘15 Best Infographic Design Agencies Worldwide‘, these agencies can absolutely help you create a timeline infographic.
Hire A Freelancer To Do It For You
Finally, if you have zero design skills and have no clue where to even start, find an experienced freelancer to make a timeline template for you. There are many freelancers available for hire. Here are some of our favorites on Fiverr:
This Fiverr seller offers to create the best timeline infographics at prices starting at just $10. At the starting price you will get one high-quality infographic with up to five data points delivered in just 3 days. They do offer add-ons and other packages.
This seller offers excellent skills such as Photoshop and After Effects to provide a quality timeline that you can use anywhere. This seller also offers custom-made infographics, so they have many packages from which to choose.
If you’re looking for awesome, professional timelines, this seller does not disappoint. For a low price of $10, they will create an online timeline in just 2 days that includes up to 7 events. If you need more events, they have other packages available.
Finally, we have a seller named Schemes. Much like the others, this seller offers to create timelines that are high-quality and unique. They have several packages that consist of different services, at different prices.
Regardless which of these freelancers you choose, just know you will have a high quality timeline that can be used anywhere.
In conclusion, sometimes it makes sense to add a timeline to your project, presentation, or even your website. Check out all the free timeline maker tools we discussed today, and don’t forget to leave feedback to let us know which is your favorite!