How to Make a Linear Timeline

People sitting on chairs.jpg

A linear timeline gives you a picture of events in order of their occurrence during a specific time period. Timelines are great for reports and school projects, understanding history or even making a chronological record of a growing child's life. They are easy to make and fun to display in a classroom, library, home office or even a child's bedroom.

  • Paper Pencils, markers, crayons, etc. Ruler or yard stick Resources

1 Choose the timespan

Choose the timespan you plan to cover in your timeline. Calculate how many months, years or centuries you will be covering. Do your research and determine how many events or dates you plan to show on the timeline. Make a list of the events in chronological order. Having your notes prepared in advance will make it easier to just transfer the information to the timeline and will help you estimate how long of a piece of paper you might need.

2 Choose a paper

Choose a paper. Usually timelines require a longer piece of paper than one standard sheet, but it will ultimately depend on the length of time you are covering, how many points on the line you are marking and how big your writing is. You can use any kind of paper, but make sure it will be long enough. You might choose poster paper or a roll of paper, or simply tape a few sheets of paper together end-to-end.

3 Determine if you

Determine if you want to make your timeline hang horizontally or vertically. Horizontally is convenient if you wish to display it to a crowd so that everyone can see it. Vertical timelines work well if your wall space is limited.

4 If your timeline will be very long

If your timeline will be very long, use a ruler or yard stick to draw a line down the page. You may wish to make the initial marks in pencil so that you can erase or change things if necessary.

5 If hanging it

Mark the first date in your timeline at the far left (or top, if hanging it vertically) of the line. Mark the date of your timeline on the far left (or bottom) of the line. Divide the rest of the line into equal segments and mark them on the line with dots or dashes. For example, if you are doing a timeline of the 19th century, you can break it up into decades: 1800, 1810, 1820, and so on, all the way to 1900.

6 Mark

Mark the points on your line with the dates or events that you plan to point out. For example, if your timeline was "Presidents of the 19th Century," you would make a mark at 1801 and list Thomas Jefferson, then another mark at 1809 listing James Madison, and so on.

7 Take a look at your timeline

Take a look at your timeline after you have penciled it out. Make any changes or corrections necessary. Once you are satisfied with how it looks, go over the lines with markers or crayons and add additional details or decorations.

  • Don't attempt to put every event into a timeline. Choose a specific topic and list the most important events. Add pictures, either drawn or printed out, or decals to make your timeline more attractive. If you don't feel comfortable enough with your handwriting to write directly onto the paper, print out small cards and glue them onto the paper.