A timeline chart is an excellent way to represent the chronological order of events or project activities over a specific period. With a timeline chart, you get to visualize the milestones, deadlines as well as project duration in an easy-to-understand format.
For those working on a project requiring them to create a timeline chart in Google Sheets, you’re in luck, as today’s Google Sheets tutorial will give you a detailed step-by-step guide on doing just that.
But before we jump into the practical aspects of this Google Sheets guide, let’s give you some insight into why you should use a timeline chart in Google Sheets.
Why use a timeline chart?
A timeline chart is a remarkable tool for visualizing the chronological order of events or activities over a certain period of time. Using a timeline is an effective way to see the bigger picture of a project or event. A timeline chart makes it easy to visualize and understand how different elements relate.
Here are some perks of using a timeline chart in Google Sheets.
- Identify milestones and deadlines: Creating a timeline chart in Google Sheets will allow you to seamlessly identify essential dates and deadlines for your events or projects. It is also a brilliant tool for tracking progress while ensuring your event is on schedule.
- Communicate with stakeholders: A timeline chart is typically presented in an easy-to-understand format. Thanks to how it is presented, you can share it with stakeholders to bring them up to speed on project progress and milestones. By creating a timeline chart in Google Sheets, you can keep everyone associated with the project informed and aligned.
- Plan and schedule: A timeline chart is a remarkable tool for planning and scheduling tasks and activities. If you plan to allocate resources and prioritize tasks, then using a timeline chart for your project wouldn’t be a bad idea.
- Identify dependencies: A timeline chart helps you to spot how different activities relate to one another seamlessly. By identifying dependencies, you’ll be able to plan accordingly.
Overall, creating a timeline chart in Google Sheets will not only help you to stay organized but also allow you to communicate effectively while ensuring that your project is on track.
Set up your data
Now that you know why using a timeline chart is important, let’s show you how your data should be set up.
To create a timeline chart in Google Sheets, you’ll need to work with at least two columns of data. For a hassle-free experience, you want the dates (or dates with times) in the first column while the numeric data is entered in the second column.
If your project has additional data, you can fill in the third or fourth column with that data. For the purpose of this tutorial, we plan to keep things pretty simple by using sample data that’s easy to comprehend.
Here is the sample data we will use to create a timeline chart in Google Sheets:
Create a timeline chart
With our sample data now entered in our spreadsheet, it’s time to jump into the practical aspect of this Guide- creating a timeline chart in Google Sheets.
Our goal with this Google Sheets tutorial is to simplify the entire process. So whether you’re a complete novice or an experienced Google Sheets enthusiast, you should be able to create a timeline chart in Google Sheets without sweating it.
Let’s cut to the chase and bring you all the exciting details.
Step 1: Highlight the entire data
To create a timeline chart in Google Sheets, you must highlight the entire data in your spreadsheet. Make sure to include the column headers.
Step 2: Insert > Chart
After highlighting the data in your spreadsheet, you are set to add a chart to your spreadsheet. To do this, head to the “Insert’ menu and select Chart.
Here is a short video demo that demonstrates how you can execute this step:
Alternatively, you can simply navigate to the sub-menu and click the icon for “insert chart.” Whichever method you opt for will get the job done.
After executing this step, Google Sheets will automatically create a chart that looks like this:
From the image above, you’ll notice that Google created a line chart. Since we are interested in a timeline chart, we need to change it.
Changing line chart to timeline chart in Google Sheets?
Google Sheets provides options to switch between different chart types seamlessly. To switch from the line chart created by Google Sheets to our preferred timeline chart, we need to head to the Chart editor located at the extreme right of your spreadsheet. Here is how to change the line chart to a timeline chart:
Step 1: Launch the chart editor
If the chart editor isn’t available on the extreme right of your spreadsheet, you can launch it by clicking anywhere on the chart generated in your spreadsheet. After clicking the chart, you’ll notice three dots on the top right of the spreadsheet. Click on it and select the option for “Edit Chart.”
Step 2: Switch the line chart to the timeline chart
With the Chart editor now launched, head to the chart editor. Under Setup, you should find an option for “Chart type.” Click on the option and navigate all the way down to find the option for the “Timeline chart.”
Here is a short video that demonstrates how to switch from a line chart to a timeline chart:
After switching from the line chart to the timeline chart, you should notice that your chart has now been updated to reflect what you want. Here is what ours looks like:
Customize your timeline chart
After creating your timeline chart in Google Sheets, you can leave things as they are. But if, like us, you want your timeline chart to have more depth, you are welcome to explore some of the customization options we will show you shortly.
Step 1: Launch the chart editor
If, for some reason, you closed the Chart editor on the sidebar, you can launch it by double-clicking on the chart or navigating to the three-dot icon on the top right of your chart and selecting the option for “Edit chart.” This will reopen the “Chart editor,” from where you can now start making changes as you want.
Step 2: Select customize
You’ll typically find two options on the chart editor- the “Setup” and the “Customize” menu. Since our objective in this section is to customize our chart, we need to select the “Customize” menu.
Step 3: Expand Timeline
After clicking the “Customize menu.” You need to expand the option for Timeline. After expanding the options for Timeline, you should be able to customize the following options. For this guide, we will customize our timeline chart according to these customization options:
- Fill opacity: By tweaking this option, you are basically choosing a percentage to fill the portion below the line on the chart. For this tutorial, we will use 30%.
Here is what your chart should look like after making the changes:
- Line thickness: While the line in our current timeline chart is okay, we want to switch things up by making it a little thicker. To do this, simply select a thickness in the pixels options and you should notice obvious changes in the line in your timeline chart. For this guide, we will use 4px.
With the changes now effected on our timeline chart, here is what it looks like:
- Value suffix: It’s okay to add a suffix to your timeline chart. It is especially handy if you want to expand the data featured in your chart but not on your sheet.
While it isn’t important for the data we are working with, we would love to show you how it would look if you made these changes. For this guide, we would add a 0 value suffix. All you need to do is enter 0 in the text box for Value suffix and watch the change appear on your timeline chart.
Here is what our timeline chart now looks like after making the changes. Notice that the values have been updated to reflect the changes we made:
Note: As we mentioned earlier, this isn’t relevant to the data we are working with. We are only doing this to show you how these changes will look on your timeline chart.
- Date format: If you don’t currently like the date format on your timeline chart, you can tweak this to what you think is best for your chart. To change the current date format of your timeline chart to something that works for you, simply click on the Date format option and select your preferred date format. For our tutorial, we will switch from the default date format to the second option.
After the changes have been effected, the default date on your timeline chart should now change to your preferred date format. Take a look at what ours look like:
- Min and max: Instead of displaying the numeric data values on the vertical axis of your timeline chart, you can choose a specific minimum and maximum value. For our guide, we will choose 200 as the minimum and 600 as the maximum.
Here is what the changes should look like on our timeline chart:
Besides these changes, you’ll also find additional options at the bottom. You can select or unselect these boxes as you like. You can expand the range to show zero, showcase the zoom buttons or show the date range selector.
Viewing the Timeline chart
Now that we have shown you how to customize your Timeline chart to give it some depth, we want to use this opportunity to show you how to view the timeline chart.
Regardless of your experience with Google Sheets, you should be able to visualize your timeline chart without any hassles.
To view your timeline chart, you’ll need to take advantage of all the tools you included during the customization process. If you look closely at the timeline chart we created, you’ll notice it has a zoom button at the top. You can select different viewing options, including options for an hour, a day, a week, monthly or even yearly, depending on what you want.
To view a particular time frame, you only need to click on a button, and your chart should be reconfigured for that timeframe.
Here is what the zoom button for your timeline chart looks like:
Let’s assume we want to zoom in on the 5-day timeframe. You can simply select the Zoom button for 5d, as shown in the timeline chart. After selecting that option, your timeline chart should look something like this:
Underneath your timeline chart sits the Date Range Selector. You can use the buttons to slide from left to right across the different date ranges. You can use this to focus on the section you’d like to view.
Here, take a look at the date range selector on our timeline chart:
If you’re interested in viewing specific data on your timeline chart, you can simply hover your cursor or select the point on the chart you want to visualize. You’ll typically see the data you want displayed on the top right corner of your timeline chart.
Check the image below for better insight.
Creating a timeline chart in Google Sheets is pretty straightforward. Plus, you don’t need to have a comprehensive experience of Google Sheets to create a timeline chart in Google Sheets.
What’s especially unique about a timeline chart is that it helps you to visualize your project timeline more effectively. Using the right data, chart type and customization options, anyone can create a timeline chart in Google Sheets that clearly communicates their project objectives and milestones.
In today’s guide, we showed you a detailed step-by-step process of creating a timeline chart in Google Sheets. Feel free to follow these guidelines to make your job easy.
In case of any confusion, feel free to leave us a comment, and we will be happy to provide you with more guidelines.
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