To save time and effort, users can import their project data from Excel straight into Office Timeline Online. The following guide will show you how to quickly turn your spreadsheet into a beautiful, easy-to-understand timeline using the web tool’s Excel Import functionality. You will learn to:
Read the whole step-by-step guide or click on any of the links above to jump to the section you’re most interested in. For a quick summary of how importing from Excel works, see our short video tutorial below:
A) Set up your Excel data and bring it into Office Timeline
Before importing your data, we recommend to first ensure your spreadsheet is set up properly. Below you can see an example of how your data should be organized in Excel to load it into Office Timeline Online successfully:
Download an Excel schedule formatting sample from here.
As you can see in our example, tasks should have a Start Date, End Date and Title (description), while milestones come with a Title and only a Start Date or End Date. They can be arranged in any order you wish (even interlaced), in separate tables or in a single table, as long as they are in the same spreadsheet and their dates and titles are stacked up onto each other in the same column.
• You can also add a Percent Complete column for tasks or a Notes column, but these are not mandatory details for a successful Excel Import.
• It is not absolutely necessary to include a header – if you arrange your Excel data as shown above, Office Timeline will automatically detect your milestones and tasks without it.
• Importing Swimlanes from Smartsheet is not yet available in Office Timeline Online. However, you can quickly add Swimlanes directly on your slide after importing, and then easily move your imported tasks into the lanes using drag & drop.
With your Excel spreadsheet all set up, you are now ready to import it. From the New tab in Office Timeline Online, click on Import Data and select Import from Excel from the window that pops up. Then, browse to your .xlsx file or drag & drop it into the tool's Import wizard to get to the next step.
Note: Besides .xlsx, we also support .xls and .xlsm files.
Now, if you have multiple sheets in your Excel file, select the one you wish to use from the drop-down menu under your document’s name. Office Timeline will bring in your data and try to automatically detect the header (if any) based on your columns’ names.
You can also choose a new header if you wish (simply by checking the desired row), pick a different file to import, or instantly switch between International and US date formats. Once happy, click Next to move further to the Map Columns tab.
B) Map your columns
In the Map Columns tab, if you’ve set up your Excel data as described in step A, Office Timeline Online will automatically detect your Titles, Start Dates, and End Dates and map your data accordingly. If, by any chance, the information wasn’t labeled correctly or completely, you can re-map the column headers by dragging the green labels in the corresponding field. When ready, click Next to get to the last step.
• Quick Tip: If you change your mind about importing your Percent Complete or Notes data, you can simply drag the corresponding label out of the table or click the X icon as shown below, and the web app will ignore the whole column when importing your data. However, we’d recommend keeping it just in case, as it won’t be visible on the timeline unless you choose to show it.
C) Select which rows to import
After mapping columns and clicking Next, you will be directed to the Select Rows tab, where you’ll notice that Office Timeline has automatically marked all importable records. This is the last step of the Excel import process and it gives you the opportunity to double-check your data or specify what tasks and milestones you want to load from your Excel spreadsheet.
Note: Free users can import up 10 tasks and milestones per timeline, while premium users can bring in up to 150 rows of data from their chosen source.
As you can see in the image below, the timeline maker allows you to select or deselect individual items or categories by clicking the corresponding checkboxes. If you want to select or deselect all data, you can do so instantly by clicking the checkbox in the upper-right corner, next to the Title column header. Finally, you can also choose here whether you want to import 1-day tasks as milestones or not.
As a quick tip, for complex project plans, we’d recommend importing only major tasks and milestones so that you get a clean, elegant timeline that even non-technical audiences can easily follow.
When you are satisfied with your project data, click the Import button in the bottom-right corner of the screen - the web tool will instantly generate your timeline, which you can then customize and style with just a few clicks.