Display Key Tasks in Microsoft Project’s Timeline View

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated July 8, 2016

Applies to: Microsoft® Project® 2010, 2013 and 2016 (Standard and Professional)

Timelines are a great way to view key tasks and milestones in a project. You can add tasks to a timeline and then format it any way you’d like. The Timeline View is available in Microsoft Project 2010 and later versions and displays by default. You can add and remove items from a timeline and copy a timeline into an email or Word or PowerPoint file to present the timeline. In this article, we’ll focus on a single timeline (although Project 2016 now supports multiple timelines and you can create views with different timelines).

Recommended article: 10 Timesaving Shortcuts in Microsoft Project’s Gantt Chart View

Below is a sample project with a timeline which includes summary and milestone tasks:

Project with a timeline in Microsoft Project.

Displaying the Timeline View

The Timeline View is displayed by default when you first install Project. However, you can turn the Timeline View off and on using Options or by selecting Timeline on the View tab in the Ribbon:

Checkbox to show or hide a timeline in Microsoft Project.

Working with Timeline Tools

When you click in the timeline, a Timeline Tools Format tab appears with options for the timeline.

In order to work with just the timeline and not move the Gantt Chart, turn off Pan & Zoom in the Show/Hide group.

Timeline tools in Microsoft Project.

Adding single tasks to a timeline

To add single tasks to a timeline:

  1. Right-click on a task and then select Add to Timeline from the menu. Alternatively, click on the Add to Timeline button on the Task tab in the Ribbon.
  2. Repeat this for each task or milestone you want to add.

Micrososft Project task tab in the Ribbon with Add to Timeline.

Adding multiple tasks to a timeline

To add multiple tasks to a timeline:

  1. Click on the ID of the first task.
  2. Control-click on the IDs of subsequent tasks.
  3. Right-click on one of the selected tasks and select Add to Timeline. Alternatively, click on the Add to Timeline button in the Properties group on the Task tab in the Ribbon.

Tip: timelines can work well if you add only summary tasks and milestones to the timeline.

If you want to add just milestone and summary tasks, you could filter to display milestone and summary tasks first and then repeat the steps above to add these tasks to the timeline.

Removing tasks from a timeline

To remove tasks from a timeline:

  1. Click once on the bar, diamond or callout text in the timeline that you wish to delete.
  2. Select Remove from Timeline in the Timeline Tools Format tab or right-click on the item and select Remove from Timeline. You can also simply press Delete.

Displaying tasks as callouts in a timeline

Initially, tasks are displayed as bars on a timeline. To display tasks as callouts:

  1. Click on a task in the timeline.
  2. Click on the Timeline Tools Format tab and then select Display as Callout. You can also right-click on the task and select Display as Callout from the menu. The task now points to the timeline from above or below the timeline. You can then drag the task to the desired location.

Dos[;au a bar as a callout in a timeline in Micrososft Project.

If you want to change a callout to a bar again, click on the callout and then click on Display as Bar on the Format tab on the Ribbon to turn it back into a bar. You can also right-click on the task and select Display as Bar from the menu.

Below is a timeline with summary tasks as callouts:

Timeline with callouts in Micrososft Project.

Adding rows in a timeline

To add rows in a timeline:

  1. Click on a bar task in the timeline.
  2. Drag tasks up or down within the timeline to show them on different rows.

Changing colors in a timeline

To change colors in a timeline:

  1. Click on the task you want to change in the timeline. To select multiple tasks, Control-click on each task.
  2. On the Timeline Tools Format tab, click on Background/Fill or Font Color and select a color.

Tools to change colors in a timeline in Microsoft Project.

Changing the date format

To change the date format:

  1. Click anywhere on the timeline.
  2. Click on Timeline Tools Format tab and then click on Date Format.
  3. Select the desired format from the drop-down menu.

Changing the date format in a timeline in Microsoft Project.

Sharing a timeline in an email, PowerPoint presentation or Word document

To share a timeline in an email, PowerPoint presentation or Word document:

  1. Click anywhere in the timeline.
  2. Click on the Timeline Tools Format tab and select Copy Timeline. A drop-down menu appears.
  3. Select For E-mail for a small size which is best for an email message. Select For Presentation for a medium size which is designed to work in a PowerPoint slide. Select Full Size for a large size which is the same size as it appears in Project.
  4. Paste the timeline by pressing Control + V in an email or file in Word or PowerPoint.

Sharing timelines in Microsoft Project..

Printing a timeline

To print a timeline:

  1. Drag the line below the timeline to the bottom of the screen.
  2. Select File and then Print.
  3. Choose the desired print options and click on Print.
  4. To return to the split view, click on the View tab on the Ribbon and then select Timeline.

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