How To Create A Timeline In Powerpoint

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					                                                                                                                                      PRESENTATION IMPROVEMENT

                Creating a product-development timeline in
                        PowerPoint is well worth the effort
     by geetesh bajaj

                             w          hat exactly is a product-
                                        development timeline?
                                        Simply put, it visually por-
                             trays the development process of a
                             product from concept to release —
                                                                       its new drug, SunZome. (To follow the
                                                                       techniques explained here, you can
                                                                       download the sample PowerPoint pre-
                                                                       sentation from www.powerpointed.
                                                                       com/files/ You will need
                                                                                                                   and select Fill Effects.
                                                                                                                      In the Fill Effects dialog box,
                                                                                                                   choose the Gradient tab and opt for a
                                                                                                                   two-color fill. Choose your colors (our
                                                                                                                   sample has chrome yellow with sap
                             with all types of research, tests and     an unzipping utility such as WinZip or      green) and select a diagonal shading
                             prototypes somewhere in the middle.       Stuffit to extract the archive file.)       style (see EXAMPLE 3 ). Click OK
                                Most of these terms — concept,                                                     when you are satisfied.
                             prototype, launch — are classified as     The time bar                                   From within the Format
                             tasks. Each task has to be represented    We begin our creation with a simple,        AutoShapes window, return to the
                             within a timeline. Not surprisingly,      uncluttered PowerPoint template that        Colors and Lines tab, and from the
                             many tasks can be repetitive, consecu-    uses the company’s corporate color          Lines submenu, click the Color drop-
                             tive or simultaneous in nature. Beyond    scheme of green. The company logo is        down menu. Choose the No Line
                             the perspective of a task point of        also incorporated into the slide (see       option for the outlines and click OK.
                             view, real-world considerations also      EXAMPLE 1 ).
                             need to be taken into account for            The first thing you need to create is    The lines
                             product development. Time schedules       a sense of time. This can be achieved       Just below the time bar and perpen-
                             and the grouping of responsibilities      by placing a time bar on the top por-       dicular to it, create four dashed lines
                             are all prone to continual change. A      tion of the slide. To create the time
                             slide based on such a product-devel-      bar, draw a narrow, ruler-style rectan-
                             opment timeline has to have qualities     gle from edge to edge on the slide.
                             that make it easy to evolve, edit and     Within this rectangle, draw four verti-
                             expand at any moment.                     cal lines to create five equal sections
                                For designers, the basic timeline      — then type a number, centered, in
                             visual can be classified as an “info-     each of these sections
                             graphic.” And while creating an effec-    (see Example 2 ).
                             tive timeline for a presentation can be      If you want to use a nice graduat-
                             daunting, it is not impossible.           ed color fill within the time bar, select
                                For this article, we’ll walk through   the rectangle and from the FORMAT
                             the steps of creating a product-devel-    menu, choose AUTOSHAPE. In the Format
                             opment timeline for Comitu Inc., a fic-   AutoShape dialog box, go to the             EXAMPLE 3 The Fill Effects window
                             tional pharmaceutical company plan-       Colors and Lines tab, click the drop-       offers a number of shading styles and
                             ning the development and launch of        down menu next to the Color choices         gradients for AutoShapes.

EXAMPLE 1 Starting with a clean background is       EXAMPLE 2 The segmented bar at the the top           EXAMPLE 4 Once you draw a basic AutoShape,
important because a timeline will require a full-   of the slide represents time. Dashed lines           you can use its resize handles to adjust its shape
width view.                                         emanate from this time bar to visually divide        and size as needed.
                                                    the onscreen area.

       WWW.PRESENTATIONS.COM                                                                                          PRESENTATIONS / APRIL 2003       23

                                that span most of the slide from top        from the Colors and Lines submenu          product’s development schedule.
                                to bottom. From the Draw toolbar,           before clicking OK.                        (see EXAMPLE 7 )
                                under AutoShapes, choose Lines, then            To save time creating and coloring
                                draw your first line. Then under the        individual AutoShapes, duplicate this      Adding animation
                                FORMAT menu choose AUTOSHAPE. This          first arrow (CTRL + D) as often as         The final steps will create and place
                                returns you to the Format AutoShapes        necessary and place the copies where       custom animation on the slide.
                                window. Go to the line area to adjust       they’re needed (see EXAMPLE 5 ).           Usually, it is a good idea to use a sim-
                                color, dash, style and weight to your           Tip: To ensure all the AutoShapes      ple wipe animation that moves from
                                liking. Be sure to choose a color that’s    are aligned, you can create guides on      left to right (the direction of the
                                visible on top of the background, yet       your slides as necessary. (For tips on     arrows) in sequence. Using a complex
                                not too bright. Once satisfied, click       using guides, see the March 2003           animation (in PowerPoint 97, 98,
                                OK.                                         Creative Techniques column,                2000 and 2001) or an entry-exit ani-
                                    Tip: Once you have formatted your       “Precision layout creates clear and        mation (in PowerPoint 2002/XP) may
                                first line, select it with your mouse       professional design,” page 19.)            spoil the simplicity of the timeline as
                                and then press CTRL + D to duplicate            Use the Text tool to label each        well as distract your audience. For this
                                it for as many other lines as you           AutoShape. Keep in mind while label-       example, I have used wipes only —
                                need.                                       ing the shapes that some may require       each AutoShape appears, animated, in
                                                                            additional scaling. Be sure to scale       sequence. The time bar is animated to
                                Adding shapes                               width-wise, and never height-wise, to      appear first, followed by the vertical
                                Now you need to create shapes that          maintain design consistency.               dashed lines. Finally, all the tasks and
                                will represent the actual tasks within                                                 their grouping rectangles complete
                                the timeline. Use a regular AutoShape       Another layer of groups                    the animation sequence.
                                for this purpose. For our example,          As you create the AutoShapes (and             And remember, this isn’t the only
                                we’ll use the pentagon shape within         their text labels) for the timeline, you   way to use a timeline. It is possible
                                the Block Arrows section of the             may wish to identify several as a          to adapt this method for historical
                                AutoShapes menu. Simply choose it           group using a larger block. This can       timelines, progressive project status,
                                and draw a long arrow onscreen.             be accomplished by adding another          event planning, training and any
                                Next use the arrow’s resize handles to      AutoShape. In our example, a long,         other concept that can evolve within
                                size and shape it (look for the white       narrow bar visually groups the task        a timeline frame. P
                                dots). Change the tapered end of the        arrows above it. (see EXAMPLE 6 ).            Software and system used:
                                arrow by locating and adjusting the             These rectangles are created the       PowerPoint 2000; Windows 2000.
                                image’s diamond-shape handle                same way you made the pentagon-
                                (see EXAMPLE 4 ).                           shape arrows. To save time, create         Geetesh Bajaj is a Microsoft-awarded
                                   Once the arrow is properly sized,        and format the shape you need, then        PowerPoint MVP, and a consultant special-
                                choose a graduated shaded fill that         duplicate it, placing each copy so that    izing in the creation and management of
                                complements the slide’s colors. Use         it roughly creates other groupings.        PowerPoint presentations. He can be
                                the same techniques and menus you               Once all the elements have been        reached at or
                                used to create color in your time bar,      put into place, you can rearrange          through his Web site,
                                even repeating the color options. Be        them to achieve their relative position
                                sure to choose the No Line option           under the time bar according to the

   EXAMPLE 5 By duplicating the original                EXAMPLE 6 The rectangles provide another             EXAMPLE 7 All task elements are in place with-
   AutoShape multiple times, it’s easy to create var-   layer of grouping, by task, within the timeline.     in the finished timeline.
   ious parts of the timeline quickly. You may need
   to rescale some shapes after placing them.

          24    APRIL 2003 / PRESENTATIONS                                                                                       WWW.PRESENTATIONS.COM

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