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SharePoint Blog

March 31
Show & Tell: SharePoint 2013 Project Timelines

Back in Kindergarten many of us participated in an activity named “Show & Tell.” Essentially as a student, you were expected to bring something visual to school and then tell a story about it to your classmates.

This activity helped the presenting student with his or her individual presentation skills and the rest of the students with listening and learning skills. What our teachers knew then is that people process information in different ways. Some students, and adults today, are visual learners. This means that they process information best when they have a supporting visual, things make more sense to a visual learner when they can see it while they hear someone describing it.

Imagine what “Show & Tell” would have been like for Kindergartners if the activity was “Tell” without the “Show.”  Would you have understood what a pet rock was without seeing it? Or what a super hero was without the action figure?

We’ve all left Kindergarten but some of the lessons learned there are forgotten when applied to project management today. Many times our status meetings are all “Tell.” Status reports are full of straight up text and financial data. For the more visual team members, they are left wondering just what you are trying to tell. They need the “Show.”

SharePoint 2013 has a great new tools set to bring timelines alive in full visual form for your teams. Let’s get started with a straightforward tutorial on leveraging project sites and their timelines for your teams.​ 

The Project Site

First, set up a project site. It’s easy – first start at your site settings and select site contents.​

Next navigate down your site contents page to the Subsites section and select add a new subsite.​ 

The site set up process will guide you through the selections you need to make.

At minimum you need to give your site a name and a URL.

The next step is to select your site template. You will see the Project Site Template as one of your choices, highlight it to select it.  As you highlight your selection, note the rich detail that describes the site’s intended purpose.​

 Select your desired permissions and navigation:​

And, last, and most importantly – select create to finish this series of site set up tasks.

And presto – you have a brand new project site! 

So let’s get started with the visual timeline that will support telling your project’s story.

The Task List

So let’s get started with the visual timeline that will support telling your project’s story by selecting the task list from the left side navigation.


Selecting the task list opens the task list onto its “All Items” View. Note the timeline and task list ready to be filled with your content.​ 

First, populate your task list with some major project milestones. To populate the list select “New Task.”​

The new task form opens and is ready for your content. Remember, anything with an asterisk (*) is required. You will not be able to save your list item without the required content.  Add your content and select “Save.”​

Here are four tasks that I populated into my task list:​ 

Let’s start to “Show & Tell” our project’s story!

The Timeline

The next step is to display tasks on our timeline. Let the “Show” begin!

For the first task, requirements, I simply hovered over the … to have a reference window display my options for the task.

And, right in my options is “Add to Timeline” – so go ahead and select it.  And just like that, “Requirements” is added to your timeline.



If you’d like to remove it, simply visit the “Requirements” Task, hover over the … and select “remove from timeline.” It’s that simple!

I will now populate the timeline with all four tasks.​ 

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Next up is the beautification of your timeline. Having all four tasks presented with the same color scheme doesn’t fully tell the timeline story or emphasize any items for your viewers.

SharePoint provides robust functionality to present your timeline items in font sizes, colors or call outs as you desire.

Select one item on your timeline to enable timeline tools.​ 

Select any of the available tools to create a more compelling visual presentation. Update the font selection, size and color with skills you already have from working with Microsoft Office.  Just click and go!​

You can immediately draw attention to a timeline element with a few simple adjustments.​

Your timeline can quickly be transformed from basic to eye catching in a few moments:​

If you’d like to further emphasize an item, you can display it as a call out. Simply go back to your item and update the display from “display as bar” to “display as callout.”​

Perhaps you’d like to call visual attention to your design phase. Here is the end result:​

You will use the same tools to format the color and font size of the timeline item for the call out item. Since you’ve already created your timeline items – you already know what to do with the toolbar to format your call out. After you create your call out, select it and format as you desire.​

SharePoint 2013 has simple and effective tools to help you share your project’s timeline in text and a more compelling visual presentation. What’s the most important milestone for your team to focus on? Use a SharePoint timeline to “Show & Tell!”​

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