In today’s lesson, I will talk about a very familiar graphic: the Timeline. A timeline is simply a graphic representation of history. It’s typically a line, on which are events are listed in chronological order, usually accompanied by images. Because there’s no hard statistical data, they can be really fun to design because you don’t have to adhere to the same rules of data-driven graphics. Just design rules, of course. Let’s take a look at how to do them right!
- Don’t use too much text: A timeline should engage the reader and deliver the information quickly, not clobber them with too much to read. Especially if your readers are looking at a timeline on a specific topic, they’re going to know a lot of what’s in the text already, so edit it.
- Think about the subject matter and your audience: Use appropriate graphics and text for the subject matter. Nothing silly in a serious graph!
- Don’t use large graphics, too many graphics, or obscure graphics: That about says it!
- Don’t use Circular Timelines: I would advise against using a circular timeline. If it’s printed, people have to turn the magazine or newspaper, and if it’s on the Web, they have to turn their heads. Plus, it’s hard to tell where it starts. As with any kind of graphic, don’t make people work too hard to read it.