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How to Quickly Make a Timeline in Keynote With Templates

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Read Time: 10 min
This post is part of a series called How to Use Apple Keynote (Ultimate Tutorial Guide).
Keynote Magic Move: How to Use Slide Transition Effects
How to Add Video & Music Files in Keynote Presentations

Presentations are often built to tell a story. They might showcase how the past connects to the present or the delivery stages of a project that you're developing. Each point on a timeline represents an essential milestone in the sequence.

You need visuals and charts to help you tell the story and drive a message to the audience. And it might be easier than you think to build timeline designs in Keynote, thanks to pre-built Keynote timeline templates that you can download and use rapidly.

In this tutorial, you're going to learn how to build out excellent Keynote timelines. These timelines can help you link events together in sequential order to tell a story.

Keynote TimelineKeynote TimelineKeynote Timeline

How to Create Timelines in Mac Keynote (Watch & Learn)

In this screencast, I'll show you how to build out a timeline using Keynote templates. With a pre-designed Keynote timeline template, you can add the details of your own timeline in less time than it takes to create one from scratch.

One of the things that you'll learn in this screencast is the variety of timelines that you can build. Timelines can take on many different shapes, and the template that we use is going to showcase that wide variety.

If you want to learn more about using these templates for the best possible Keynote timelines, keep reading the tutorial to see more examples. 

5 Practical Uses for Timelines

There's practically no limit to the situations that you can use a timeline for. Any time that you need to connect events together, consider using a timeline. Here are some scenarios that you could use a timeline to 

  1. Job application pitches. If you're telling a future employer about your past employment experiences, one of the best ways to do it is with a timeline in Keynote that explains how all of your expertise fits together.
  2. New project approvals. If you want a team to approve your project, it's crucial to lay out the road map with deadlines and deliverables in a timeline.
  3. Explaining the history of a topic. How about using a timeline in Keynote to show key events in a company's history? You can use critical points along that timeline to illustrate essential events in the organization's history.
  4. Predicting the future. I've seen timelines also used for future forecasts or predictions. Even if your timeline extends past the present, you can use the critical points along it to point out the key dates.
  5. Set your personal goals. Use a timeline with key points to mark the steps it'll take to reach a major goal.

Whether you're showing the past or future, a timeline shows how the events fit together to tell a story. No matter which one of these scenarios you find yourself in, a Keynote template can be one of the best ways to build a timeline.

How to Use Keynote Timeline Templates

One way to build a Keynote timeline is to manually draw out the timeline, combining lines and rectangles to show events in order. But, that takes too much time and is inflexible, and the result won't be as good as the alternative.

Instead of building timelines from scratch, you can use a Keynote timeline template that has pre-built timeline designs. The easiest way to create a timeline is to get a head start and add your details to it. The only thing left is to pick out a Keynote timeline template that fits your style, and substitute the placeholders with your own project specifics.

Unlimited Keynote templatesUnlimited Keynote templatesUnlimited Keynote templates
Keynote presentation theme designs on Envato Elements - with unlimited access.

For this, we'll use a template form Envato Elements. If you haven't checked it out, you'll want to learn more about Elements as a way to skip the hard work of developing a presentation from a blank slide.

Time and time again, the Elements selection of items impresses me with its depth. I've found that there's truly a template for every purpose, including templates specifically designed for building timelines. 

Keynote templates in Envato ElementsKeynote templates in Envato ElementsKeynote templates in Envato Elements
All of these Keynote timeline templates are included as a part of an Envato Elements subscription, a flat-rate service designed for creatives with unlimited downloads. 

How to Customize Timeline Infographic Slides in Keynote

In this tutorial, we're going to use the Timeline 2.0 template. As the name implies, this template is all about building out timelines efficiently in Keynote. These slides already have fully-developed slides that you can use in a Keynote timeline, and you need only to add your details to make them successful.

With Timeline 2.0, there are ten different color schemes to choose. Each of those color schemes has 50 different slides with unique timeline designs. Furthermore, there's an animated and non-animated version of each slide. These separate slide deck options create an almost countless number of combinations that you can use to craft your timeline.

Timeline 2 example slideTimeline 2 example slideTimeline 2 example slide
Here's just one example of a timeline slide that's included in Timeline 2.0, complete with easy-to-customize boxes that you can customize.

You don't have to use this slide deck on its own. It's easy to design a timeline slide and paste it into an existing slide deck. The critical part that saves you time is starting with pre-built slides that already have a timeline structure in place. Let's learn how to use these to customize your timelines.

5 Excellent Keynote Timeline Slides (Customize Quickly)

Because this slide template has a wide variety of slide designs, it can be challenging to select the right one for the timeline that you're designing. Let's take a look at five of my favorite timeline slides included in Timeline 2.0, and imagine some ways that you could use each of them.

1. Keynote Timeline Slide 48 - "Key" Date Slides

This slide puts critical dates front and center with a slick graphic. The key graphic can be used to show those pivotal dates on a project that are crucial to its success.

Throughout these slides, the method is the same: start with one of these slide designs, add your details, and remove anything that you don't' want to use.

In this example, I've updated the starter slide with details of the three key parts of my project. Just double click in the text boxes and add your details to show a timeline for your work.

Key Dates timeline slideKey Dates timeline slideKey Dates timeline slide
Showcase the "key" dates with slide design 48 and your descriptions.

2. Keynote Timeline Slide 2 - Project Completion Slides

Not only does this slide have the major dates for timelines, but you can also customize the percent completion of each stage.

For projects that run multiple objectives in parallel, slide 2 is the ideal choice. Just fill in the circles with the appropriate completion percentage and status description, and you can show the project's overall status.

Progress Completion SlidesProgress Completion SlidesProgress Completion Slides
Add they key timelines and completion statuses for each stage to complete slide 2.

3. Keynote Timeline Slide 29 - Cube Date Slides

A solid general-purpose timeline slide, this cube date slide (slide 29 in the deck) can work for a litany of timeline purposes. In this slide design, the descriptions that you add will take more priority than the shapes or graphics.

As always, it's easy to take a slide with this starting design and drop your details into. Update the dates, add the milestone details, and voila! 

Cubes Slide ExampleCubes Slide ExampleCubes Slide Example
These cubes are abstract enough that they can work for practically any timeline.

4. Keynote Timeline Slide 36 - Photo-Driven Timeline Slide

Here's a slide that can shine with the addition of several photos. A timeline can be used to show the progress of a project, and this slide might be the perfect design for it.

When you open slide 36, you'll see five photo placeholders that you can add your photos to. Just update the text and add in your photos to see the lifespan of a project, illustrated with real images.

Timeline with PhotoTimeline with PhotoTimeline with Photo
The photo placeholders on this slide are easy to substitute with your own photo choices that show the progression of a project over time.

5. Keynote Timeline Slide 33 - Month-by-Month Slide

This slide design is perfect for setting the course of a project. You need to link together the milestones in a project with key dates.

The half rings in this slide are ideal for this. A quick description for each milestone, along with updating the months as needed, is more than enough to show the project on a timeline. Consider using this in a project pitch to gain buy-in.

Project Month TimelineProject Month TimelineProject Month Timeline
These half-ring circles are ideal for showcasing the key milestones in a project with descriptions.

5 (More) Creative Keynote Timeline Templates

These aren't the only options to build your Keynote timeline graphics. Thanks to Envato Elements, there's a deep library of options for building timeline templates.

1. Timeline Keynote Template

Timeline keynote templateTimeline keynote templateTimeline keynote template

The aptly named "Timeline Keynote template" is a special-purpose template with 30 unique slides for timeline graphics. As you've already seen in this tutorial, timelines can take a variety of forms, and this template is a wide sampling of them. Choose from any of them along with the 7 color schemes to craft your timeline in Keynote in no time flat!

2. Travel Keynote Template

Travel Keynote templateTravel Keynote templateTravel Keynote template

The Travel template has a wide variety of slide designs built in, and some of my favorites are the timeline slides you can use to chain events together. Bold typography and smooth shapes are ideal to build your Keynote timeline graphic.

3. Rubick Keynote Template

Rubick Keynote TemplateRubick Keynote TemplateRubick Keynote Template

If you're wondering how to make a timeline in less time, look no further than this Keynote template. Rubick is a dark and bold template with splashes of color that makes it one of my top choices. While not every slide features a timeline graphic, a number of options are built into this presentation. Use Rubick's Keynote template to bring your timeline to life.

4. Crown Keynote Template

Crown Keynote TimelineCrown Keynote TimelineCrown Keynote Timeline

Less is more, and great Keynote timeline templates like Crown are a wonderful reminder of that. The light and airy slides help your content take center stage and stand out to the audience. Best of all, you'll see slides that have bold timelines that stand out. Customize these timeline graphics easily.

5. Startup Infographic Keynote Template

Startup Infographic Keynote templateStartup Infographic Keynote templateStartup Infographic Keynote template

Launching your startup takes bold graphics to gain support. One type of slide that's often included is a timeline that helps showcase your growth journey. Look no further than this Keynote timeline package that includes all of the timelines you see in the screenshot above.

If you want to see other templates that include designs that cover all of your Keynote needs, check out the round-up below:

Learn All About How to Make Great Presentations (Free eBook)

free presentation ebookfree presentation ebookfree presentation ebook

Take the knowledge you gained in this tutorial further with our new eBook: The Complete Guide to Making Great Presentations. Grab this PDF Download now for Free with your subscription to the Tuts+ Business Newsletter. 

Keep Learning

Don't stop here! Everyone needs skills to build out presentation templates so that they can feel confident when giving a presentation. With well-built timelines, you can craft a story in an order that resonates with the audience.

Check out these other tutorials from Envato Tuts+ to see more Keynote skills and templates that you can use to build the best presentation possible. 

How do you show events on a timeline? Do you use Keynote or another application to build out the slides? Let me know in the comment section below if you've got a favorite tip to share.

Editorial Note: This post was originally published in 2018. It has been revised to add additional tips and examples by our staff—with special assistance from Andrew Childress.

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