How to create and use timelines

Creating and using timelines can be helpful as part of your revision.

What is a timeline?

A timeline is a diagram that helps you to visualise a sequence of events that have happened or will happen over a period of time.

It is the organisation of information into chronological order.

Timelines are not just for history students

Although understanding the chronological order of events is important for history students, there are other subjects that may benefit from timelines too.

Examples include:

  • Science – life cycles, experiments
  • English – a framework for the key events in a story
  • Business studies – life cycles, case studies
  • DT – case studies
  • Computing – case studies, processes

What are the benefits of creating a timeline?

Whilst creating a timeline may not be appropriate for every topic, there are benefits when you can.

  • Organising information into a new form can assist the process of remembering
  • Timelines allow information to be broken into easier to process chunks
  • Simplified information on a timeline is easier to digest and less overwhelming
  • We generally find visual information easier to remember
  • Timelines allow us to more clearly see the bigger picture for a topic
  • Timelines can help us to better understand a topic by highlighting key events, cause and effect, and change

How to create a timeline

  1. Give your page a title
  2. Draw a long line on the page (vertical or horizontal)
  3. Add markers on the timeline for each event that you wish to document (try to space these out evenly)
  4. Draw a box or bubble for each event and connect it to the marker
  5. For each event, give it a clear title (date/time/name/location etc)
  6. Add concise descriptions to the events
  7. Underline any key terms or key information within the event descriptions

You may wish to use colours to categorise your timeline events.  Be sure you add a legend to the page if you do.

How do I use my timelines?

Creating the timeline was beneficial to your revision, but that won’t be enough work to remember the information long term.

Your timelines need to be incorporated as part of your revision schedule.

You should revisit them on a regular basis, and use them in conjunction with other revision techniques.

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