How to Create a History Timeline

A timeline helps display important historical dates.

A history timeline can be a helpful way to lay out historical events in chronological order. By laying out events in sequence, you can better see possible relationships and trends throughout history. According to Do History, making a timeline can help you memorize dates and see how one event affected the next.

Plan what type of timeline you will create. Timelines can be about people's lives, places, events or countries. Look up the year of each event in an encyclopedia, textbook or on the Internet.

Draw a straight line horizontally across a piece of paper, using a ruler to keep it straight. Using your timeline dates, chronologically list the dates on a separate piece of paper from earliest to latest. If you do not wish to use all of the dates you have researched, choose a time period to focus on, such as the 1800s, or a range of dates.

Divide your timeline into 1/2-inch vertical lines in equal segments across the line. Decide which unit of time you will use, such as days, months or years. Begin labeling the vertical lines by your designated time unit.

Fill in your timeline, starting on the left side with your earliest date. Include what happened on that date, such as: "1492: Columbus Discovers America" if space permits. If you would like to include more information about each event, draw a longer vertical line from the date and write your additional information in the space above the timeline.

  • Be sure to write neatly and keep the lines straight to make the timeline legible.
  • If you must include a bibliography, write down your research source information.

Brittany Rouse has been writing since 2004, specializing in pet care, college life and gardening. Her work is published in the George Mason University student newspaper, "Broadside," as well as the GMU online publication Connect to Mason. Rouse is working toward a Bachelor of Arts in communication.