Timeline – Concept and how to do a

We explain what a timeline is and what it can be used for. Also, the different steps to make one.

A timeline allows you to visually organize information on a topic.

What is a timeline?

It is known as a timeline (or timeline in English) to a sequential arrangement of events on a topic, so that the chronological order of these events can be appreciated. In simpler terms, it is a way of visually organizing the information on a topic, in such a way that the historical order in which the central milestones of the topic in question occurred can be appreciated.

It is a technique widely used in the educational context, either in history books or in exhibitions, since allows sequential ordering of information along a line or arrow indicating the direction in which historical time passes. Thus, the events further to the left will be the oldest, and those further to the arrowhead or to the far right of the line will be the most recent.

With the timelines the different eras or historical epochs of humanity or of a region or population are commonly organized determined; specific events that took place within a given context (such as a war, a revolution, a specific government, etc.); or the determining historical moments in the particular history of a person, a technology or a piece of knowledge.

Often, whatever the case may be, events of historical or universal importance are also located to provide context or establish comparative relationships with other different processes, whether it is a different country or region, or the universal history of humanity. . This is often referred to as a comparative timeline.

Steps to build a timeline

Events are arranged chronologically on the timeline.

To develop a timeline, the following steps must be followed:

  • Determine the scale of it. It is necessary to decide what time period the graph will cover: if all human history, a specific government, a specific year, a specific century, or from a specific century to the present, etc.
  • Determine the main milestones. The most important or transcendental events of the information that will be represented on the line must be located and previously organized, since these great milestones will be the main ones on the graph.
  • Determine contextual information. What other milestones or events of general importance – not already specific about our topic to be addressed – should be highlighted in the timeline to give context? For example, if we want to represent the key moments of the French Revolution, we probably want to highlight historical events that accompanied it in other neighboring countries.
  • Draw the line and locate the points. The line is drawn from left to right and the previously determined information is distributed on it, in chronological order, moving towards the present (or the end of the period of interest).