I would like to create a really simple timeline image.

I just want something which is a line, with dots at various dates along it, with test describing each stage.

Is there any tool which easily creates something like this? Ideally allowing you to download as a JPEG etc.

  • Why would you want a synthetic image as a jpg format? There are lots of tools that can do these things, excel, mathematica, matlab, python, gnuplot, javascript, postscript etc. Illustrator, inkscape, photoshop, powerpoint, corel draw... etc. Draw a sketch of what you need and tell us what your constraints are and what apps you could consider. And what usecase there is. – joojaa Dec 20 '15 at 20:27
  • @joojaa The worst kind of "answer" or "help" on any forum is "why would you want to do XYZ?"! The title is specific --> static timeline. To OP: Do you have any constrain regarding the kind of software you can use (eg. budget)? Also, is this for a print or web project, personal or not? Finally, how many entry will you need to put on your timeline? This could be done nicely (but manually) with free software like Inkscape. You can edit your question to add details about your operating system too and post an image as example of a timeline you like! – go-junta Dec 20 '15 at 22:47
  • @go-junta Thank you. This is for a personal project, I have adobe subscription, but would rather not spend any money on anything outside that suit. I was wondering if there was anything to make this easier than laying everything out manually? – George Edwards Dec 20 '15 at 23:00
  • @go-junta Its not an answer im trying ro gauge what the level of expertise is. Anyway, for synthetic images one should allways consider PNG first and jpg second – joojaa Dec 21 '15 at 4:44

If you want to look online, some nice set of keywords to use is "timeline generator", "history timeline maker" and "online timeline maker printable". Already if you can print a timeline, you can usually export as PDF as well.

Most of these timeline creators were made for students so they're very basics and not always very stylish if that's important for your project. There's quite a lot online if you have time to try them.

Adobe Illustrator / Indesign

That's just a personal preference, since you have access to nice tools such as Adobe Illustrator, I'd probably prefer to create my own timeline with this or Indesign. Yes, you might indeed need to do everything manually but sometimes it's faster this way than spending time searching for other solutions.

That's probably still the best option for nicest results (or at least freedom for design) and if you don't have too many entries.

To my knowledge, there's no free add-on/plugin for the Adobe products to create "automatic" timeline but maybe it's possible to create them using a script or something. That could be asked as a new question.

ReadWriteThink (Free and using Flash)

You can create big blocks for each entry, add an image and place them where you want on the timeline. Not super symmetric results.

Can't really choose any style or color.

Can save and export as a PDF, but the PDF is not editable; it's a raster and flattened image, more like a JPG. The PDF has credits and titles that you could always modify or retype.

readwritethink template timeline with dates

Google Templates

These are only templates and you'll need to place your entries manually. But some of the work is done, maybe it can be an option for you if you really don't want to start from scratch and feel comfortable using the Google tools.

OfficeTimeline (need Office, Free and Premium edition available)

That plugs in with PowerPoint and Excel (Premium edition I believe). It offers you templates that can be filled with your own data. Looks professional.

I think the Premium Version let you add Excel content, that can be good if you have a lot of elements on your timeline or need to update it frequently.

I haven't try it, but you should be able to at least print or get a screenshot on the free edition.

Timeline from office timeline - timeline generator with dates

Microsoft Excel / Word

Search online, there's tutorials to create Microsoft Excel/Word charts. You can export them the way you want and they're more dynamic; might be your best option if you have a lot to update them dynamically. One benefit is that you can at least save your templates for later if you need to to update or share them.

There's probably some help for OpenOffice as well if you prefer to use an open source version.

There"s a tutorial that seems to be decent in the second part of this page:


Create a Timeline with Milestones (YouTube):


Alternative: Gantt Chart

You can also explore "Gantt chart" in your google search.

They're not dots on an axis timelime type but might still be useful for your project. There might be more options for these as they are commonly used for manufacturing and production commercially while the style you're looking for is more often used for historical timelines.

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