What Is A Timeline?
Do you have a successful company and want to find a way to summarize your accomplishments? A timeline is a visual summary of events. If you earned awards or reached milestones over the course of several years, this document will show those times and events at a glance. Although some companies use these documents to show awards or achievements, others use them to show customers how the company grew over the years in terms of money or workforce size.
Tips For Making A Timeline
First, determine the purpose of the document. Do you want to display achievements, company growth or awards? If you want to display all three or something else, consider making separate sheets. These tips from experienced professionals will help you create a document that meets your needs:
- Be sure that your story or subject has a clear chronological order.
- If photos explain points better, consider using a slideshow.
- Make each entry a clearly contributing part of the overall narrative.
- Be sure that all vital events are included.
- Use a proper year or month sequence depending on the length of time between events.
- Provide a concise description for each entry.
How To Make A Timeline
As you are designing your document, think from the perspective of your audience. For example, are you targeting current customers or new ones? If you are targeting new customers, you need to be sure that they learn more about your company. If you are targeting people who are already familiar with this information and want to convey a different point, you could omit some of the information that you would have put in a document targeting new customers. Use these steps to help you make a useful timeline.
1. Make the background subtle. Many people use a plain white background or a neutral color. If you must use a colored background, keep the colors light or faded. A bright or dark color can make the document harder to read. This is especially important if your format is a chart rather than a list.
2. Write your story out ahead of time. If you make a timeline without first determining the story, you may have to revise it multiple times. First, make an outline of your story with the points or categories that must be covered. List the applicable dates or events under each category. If you plan to write a summary or an important fact with each dated event in a category, write it on your draft in concise language.
3. Use reference numbers for detailed stories. In some cases, you may not be able to summarize your story in 10 or fewer words. When this happens, assign reference numbers to entries on the chart or list. For example, imagine that you are listing two categories of change with each entry, and you need more space to write the details. You could add a brief indicator on the chart with a chronological number or letter below it. Leave space on the paper below the chart for numbered or lettered entries. Write the details next to each letter or number, and use a lined format for easier readability.
4. Emphasize especially important entries. If you have more than 15 entries on your chart or list, select a few that you consider milestones. Use bold font for those ones. This helps break up the entries to make them easier to read, and it also draws attention to your biggest accomplishments or points.
5. Differentiate similar events. Imagine that you are making a chart format with time increments below to indicate your company’s biggest achievements. If you reached $1 million in profits after two years and then reached another million the next year, you should not write “reached $1 million in profits” for each entry. Instead, you should indicate that you reached $1 million the first time, $2 million for the second entry and follow that formula for future entries.
6. Be sure that all dates are clear. When making a list, it is easier to keep your events and their corresponding dates clear. However, charts that have dates and tick marks below them can be more difficult to read. If you choose a chart format, be sure to provide enough space between events and dates that readers do not confuse them.
7. Give detailed timelines some contrast. For detailed or long timelines, it helps to use some different colors for events. For example, you can divide your events into categories. Use a different color for each type of event category as you place it on the timeline. The contrast makes it easier to follow and lumps occurrences together in a logical manner.
The first example is in a list layout, and the second is in a chart format. The chart is simple and uses bars. Browse other options if you prefer a different design. There are programs that generate these documents for you to fill out on your own and either print them or post them on your website. If you are trying to attract customers, a simple list is usually a good choice. However, charts are ideal if you have an important message to convey or one specific focus.
How ThisCompany Became AnotherCompany
July 3, 2000 – ThisCompany opens its doors
April 10, 2001 – ThisCompany achieves $1 million in sales
July 23, 2002 – ThisCompany earns Top 100 Sellers Award
August 30, 2002 – ThisCompany grows to 500 employees
June 20, 2004 – ThisCompany is acquired by ThatCompany
December 15, 2007 – ThatCompany reaches $1 billion in sales
March 3, 2009 – ThatCompany grows to 50 global locations
June 9, 2012 – ThatCompany earns Most Prestigious Company Award
November 30, 2015 – ThatCompany is acquired by AnotherCompany
December 2, 2016 – AnotherCompany hires 1,000 new employees
July 1, 2017 – AnotherCompany grows to 100 global locations
Please click here to view the sample chart format. You can make your own using a spreadsheet program that generates these documents or use a photo editing and creation program to design your own.