How to Create a project Timeline in Visio

Using a Timeline in VisioA timeline in Visio is an easy-to-read graphical representation of a Project plan. Using a timeline in Visio can make it possible for senior managers to quickly see the progress of a project without getting bogged down in the details.

[br]This makes a Visio timeline ideal for management summaries, executive reports or for including in a presentation.

Creating a Timeline in Visio 2007

When you create a timeline in Visio you are really using a feature of project management. In Visio, however, the simplicity of the graphical timeline gives an immediate “snapshot” of the project.

The steps in creating a timeline in Visio are:

  •  Drag a Timeline Shape from the Timeline Shapes stencil onto the page
  •  The Configure Timeline dialog box appears
  •  Enter the project’s information in the dialog box
  •  The data is automatically transferred to your timeline in Visio

By using the Expanded Timeline shape when editing a timeline in Visio you have the ability to expand a particular phase of the project, and this tutorial walks the viewer through the process of creating a Timeline in Visio 2007 and expanding a phase within it.

Editing a Timeline in Visio

You will need to configure your timeline in Visio as it will have default date applied. By automatically opening the Configure Timeline dialog box Visio lets you establish a start or a finish date; it is not wise to specify both in Project as the database engine loses any flexibility when you do, but when creating a timeline in Visio it is perfectly acceptable to set both.

As soon as the dates are set the timeline is split into the months of the project’s duration. Our timeline in Visio for this tutorial has a cylindrical shape, but if you want to change this or enhance it by adding an arrowhead to the cylinder to indicate the passage of time it is very easy to do so. Separate phases during the project can be represented by Interval shapes; as these are added to the timeline in Visio a dialog box opens to allow them to be configured.

TIP: By adding interval shapes to the Visio timeline you can indicate when each phase of the project starts and finishes.


For Project Managers who need to see more detail, Visio can also create a more graphical version of a Gantt Chart; creating one is covered in a separate series of tutorials later in this category.

Project timelines in Visio 2007