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For other uses, see Timeline (disambiguation).
The bronze timeline "Fifteen meters of History" with background information board, Örebro, Sweden.

A timeline is a way of displaying a list of events in chronological order, sometimes described as a project artifact. It is typically a graphic design showing a long bar labelled with dates alongside itself and usually events labelled on points where they would have happened.

Uses of timelines

Timelines are often used in education to help students and researchers with understanding the order or chronology of historical events and trends for a subject. When showing time on a specific scale on an axis, a timeline can be used to visualize time lapses between events, durations (such as a lifetimes or wars), and the simultaneity or overlap of spans and events.


Timelines are particularly useful for studying history, as they convey a sense of change over time. Wars and social movements are often shown as timelines. Timelines are also useful for biographies. Examples include:

Natural sciences

Timelines are also used in the natural world and sciences, for subjects such as astronomy, biology, and geology:

Project management

Another type of timeline is used for project management. In these cases, timelines are used to help team members to know what milestones need to be achieved and under what time schedule. For example, in the case of establishing a project timeline in the implementation phase of the life cycle of a computer system.

Time scale

Timelines can take use any time scale, depending on the subject and data. Most timelines use a linear scale, where a unit of distance is equal to a set amount of time. This time scale is dependent on the events in the timeline. A timeline of evolution can be over millions of years, whereas a timeline for the day of the September 11 attacks can take place over minutes. While most timelines use a linear timescale, for very large or small timespans, logarithmic timelines use a logarithmic scale to depict time.

Types of timelines

File:ChronoZoom Timeline Project.jpg
ChronoZoom is an example of interactive, zoomable timeline software. It is a free open source project that seeks to visualize time at all scales from the big bang 13.8 billion years ago to the present.
Charles Minard's information graphic of Napoleon's march
  • Text timelines, labeled as text
  • Number timelines, the labels are numbers, commonly line graphs
  • Interactive, clickable, zoomable

There are many methods of visualizations for timelines. Historically, timelines were static images, and generally drawn or printed on paper. Timelines relied heavily on graphic design, and the ability of the artist to visualize the data.

Timelines, no longer constrained by previous space and functional limitations, are now digital and interactive, generally created with computer software. ChronoZoom is an example of computer aided interactive timeline software.

See also


  • Grafton, Anthony; Rosenberg, Daniel (2010), Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline, Princeton Architectural Press, p. 272, ISBN 978-1-56898-763-7 

External links

  • Vistorica: web site where history is visualized in form of automatically created timelines and maps
  • Timelines: sources from history a British Library interactive history timeline that explores collection items chronologically, from medieval times to the present day
  • "Timeline Software". MindView Solutions. MatchWare Education. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  • — Timelines online. Explore, create, share.

Timeline News

  • Did Twitter Finally Get Music Right?

    Dow Jones Business News - 32 mins ago
    ... a user's timeline and the most popular music on the network. It shut down the app less than a year later. Twitter is giving music a second chance with its rollout of Audio Cards, which aim to fix... more
  • Timeline charts 900 years of Berwick

    Berwick Advertiser - 1 hr ago
    Over 200 people attended the Berwick 900 Timeline display and launch of the Arty-Facts art and crafts project held in the Guildhall. A number of community groups and local schools were represented... more
  • Twitter Needs to Show Mass Appeal to Really Win Over Wall Street - 1 hr ago
    ... the bottom line. Twitter calculates advertising revenue per 1,000 timeline views, and the metric has been a "somewhat volatile" one for the company, as Deutsche Bank noted in its Oct. 7 note. In... more


  • A timeline is a way of displaying a list of events in chronological order, sometimes described as a project artifact. It is typically a graphic design... more
  • This is a list of timelines. Types Living graph Logarithmic timeline Detailed logarithmic timeline Synchronoptic view General timelines List of... more
  • A logarithmic timeline is a timeline laid out according to a logarithmic scale. This necessarily implies a zero point and an infinity point, neither of... more

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