Display Key Tasks in Microsoft Project’s Timeline View

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated June 11, 2021

Applies to: Microsoft® Project® 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2019 (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 a task and then select Add to Timeline from the drop-down menu. Alternatively, click Add to Timeline 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 the ID of the first task.
  2. Ctrl-click the IDs of subsequent tasks.
  3. Right-click one of the selected tasks and select Add to Timeline. Alternatively, click Add to Timeline 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 the bar, diamond or callout text in the timeline that you want to delete.
  2. Select Remove from Timeline in the Timeline Tools Format tab or right-click 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 a task in the timeline.
  2. Click he Timeline Tools Format tab and then select Display as Callout. You can also right-click he 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 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 the task you want to change in the timeline. To select multiple tasks, Ctrl-click each task.
  2. C;ocl the Timeline Tools Format tab and then click 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 the Timeline Tools Format tab and then click 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 the Timeline Tools Format tab and then 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 Ctrl + V in an email Word or PowerPoint file.

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 the File tab in the Ribbon and then select Print.
  3. Choose the desired print options and click Print.
  4. To return to the split view, click the View tab in the Ribbon and then select Timeline.

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More resources

Auto vs Manual Scheduling in Microsoft Project

How to Create a Timeline in MIcrosoft Project

Send Microsoft Project Data to Excel with Visual Reports

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