Creating a Timeline in Visio 2007

When you are planning a project, using a time line can help you visualise the scope of the whole project and make it easier for everyone to understand.  A Visio History Timeline is a graphical representation of a specific period of time — this may be the entire project or just a portion of it — and can be split into phases.  It can show events that take place during this period, and can include milestones to represent significant events such as the completion of a major phase.

Projects may contain several timeline pages

Examples of Timelines can include several pages, each containing a timeline for a different period.  These pages can be synchronised, as can any other Visio page, and each individual timeline can include an expanded timeline shape that magnifies and shows details for a period within it.  In this way the primary timeline can give an overview of the project while the expanded timeline can be configured to give details of the events contained within it.

Configure Timeline Options

This makes a Visio Timeline extremely useful when you need to give a higher level view to a group of people, for example a management team or a board of directors.  If you’re using expanded timeline shapes synchronised with the primary timeline, this single drawing can also give greater detail to segments of it when required.  For anyone who needs to see greater detail than that provided on a timeline, Visio also has the capability to generate a Gantt chart.

Adding Milestones to a Timeline

Several different types of milestone shape can be added to a timeline, and these can represent dates, phases and decisions that have to be made before the project can continue.  Interval markers can be used on the timeline shape to split it into smaller periods of time.  Tasks can be marked with a percentage of completion, so that you can see at a glance where the hold-ups occur.  Right clicking a shape opens a shortcut menu and from here properties can be edited.  Changes to dates made in this way are immediately reflected when Visio moves the shape to the appropriate place on the timeline.

For a project that already exists in another format, for example a Microsoft Project file, a text file or a Microsoft Excel file it is a simple matter to import the data into Visio to generate a timeline.  The Import Timeline Wizard makes it a simple and painless process, and once the timeline has been created it can be reconfigured by right clicking and choosing Configure Timeline.

You can watch video tutorials on Visio Timelines in our Advanced tutorials

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