How to use timeline themes



Office Timeline’s Themes functionality helps you save time customizing visuals and easily standardize project communications.

Themes are basically a collection of styling properties (colors, shapes, sizes, etc.) that you can use to create beautiful timelines out of the box or apply to existing visuals. This guide will show you how they work and how to make the most out of them. You’ll learn how to:


A) Create a timeline from a theme 
B) Apply themes to any existing timeline
C) Create your own custom themes (Expert Edition)
D) Use the theme customization options (Expert Edition)
E) Share and import custom themes (Expert Edition)

F) How to edit, rename, duplicate, or delete themes (Expert Edition)


Read the full guide or use the links above to jump straight to the chapter you’re interested in. At the end of the post, you’ll also find an FAQ section with answers you might find useful.


A) How to create a timeline from a theme

Creating a timeline starting from a theme will help you considerably reduce the time spent styling your visuals. Go to New on the Office Timeline ribbon, pick a theme you like, and add or import your data.

create-new-timeline-from theme.gif

The add-in will generate a timeline styled just like the theme you chose.


B) How to apply themes to an existing timeline

You can completely change the look and feel of any timeline simply by applying a different theme to it. Here’s how it works:

  1. From your timeline slide, click on the Themes button on the Office Timeline ribbon.


  2. In the Themes window that pops up, select a theme you like, and you’ll be able to see a preview of your timeline with that theme applied.


    Quick tip: Use the checkboxes above the timeline preview if you want to preserve the formatting of the colors, shapes or text positions on your current timeline. This can come in handy if, for instance, you had already customized the text positions for an optimal fit and you don’t want the theme to affect these customizations.

  3. Click Apply, and Office Timeline will instantly change the look of your timeline.


Note: This functionality replaces the ability to apply a template, which was available in Office Timeline versions prior to version 8.00.04.


C) How to create your own custom themes (Expert Edition)

With Expert Edition, you can easily create your own custom themes. You can set up theme colors to match your brand guidelines and create presets for every timeline object, from tasks and milestones to swimlanes and dependencies. Here’s how easy it is:

  1. From the Office Timeline ribbon, click the dropdown arrow below the Themes button and select Create New Theme from the menu.

    Note: Alternatively, you can click Create New Theme from the Themes window – it works just the same.

  2. Pick a name for your theme and click Next to open the theme builder, where all the magic happens.

  3. The theme builder is where you can create presets for almost any element of a timeline. To do so, you can either browse through the tabs on the left, or simply select the object you want to customize directly from the timeline specimen. 
    Note: You can learn more about the theme customization options in the builder in the next chapter.

  4. When ready, click the Create button, and Office Timeline will save your new theme in My Themes.


Quick tip: You can create a theme starting from an existing timeline as well. With your timeline slide selected, open the Themes window and you’ll see the Current Timeline Theme at the top. Just click “Add to My Themes” under it, and the add-in will extract the theme behind your current timeline and save it to your gallery.


D) How to use the theme customization options
(Expert Edition)

The theme builder gives you a variety of customization options for your themes. Let's take a quick look at them.

  • Colors

This is where you set the general color palette of your theme. You can choose between the existing color schemes or save your own custom colors, which you can then easily access and pick when customizing timeline objects.

  • Tasks

Here you’ll set your styling preferences for all classic tasks (those linked directly to the timescale, not inside a swimlane). The options you choose here will not impact swimlane tasks.


  • Milestones

This is where you set your styling preferences for all classic milestones (those linked directly to the timescale, not inside a swimlane). The options you choose here will not impact swimlane milestones.


  • Swimlanes

Here you can set up multiple styles to be used for swimlanes and sub-swimlanes, as well as the tasks and milestones inside them.


You can edit the styles you can see by default, or you can:

  1. Create more styles if you want to have more variety on your timelines.

  2. Delete styles. You can even keep a single swimlane style, in case you want all swimlanes on a timeline to look the same.

  3. Duplicate or copy & paste styles.

  • Dependencies

Here you’ll find customization options for both dependencies and the critical path.


  • Timescale

Here you can not only choose general styling properties (e.g. font, color, or shape) for the timescale, but also hide or show extras like Today Marker or Gridlines.
timescale tab.png
Quick tip: In the Timescale tab, you can even set your preferred language for a theme. When applied to your timelines, the theme will automatically change the language of all dates and durations. Simply open the Timescale Settings section and you’ll find the option there.

E) How to share and import custom themes (Expert Edition)

  • Share custom themes

With Office Timeline Expert, you can easily share custom themes and empower your team to create compelling timelines while maintaining brand consistency. Here’s how sharing works.

  1. From the Themes window, select the desired theme and click Share.


  2. In the window that popups up, choose whether you want to send your theme by email or export it to your device.

    Choosing Send by Email will open an email draft with the theme file (.otlthx) attached and a few simple instructions for your colleagues to follow. Choosing Export will export the theme as an .otlthx file to a desired location on your device, so you can share it through any channel you wish.



  • Your colleagues will need to import the theme file (.otlthx) into Office Timeline to be able to use the theme. If they need instructions on how to do it, you can direct them to the next chapter.

  • Another way to share a theme with colleagues is to send them a timeline (.pptx) that uses said theme. They can then open the timeline slide, go to Themes, and click “Add to My Themes” under Current Timeline Theme.


  • Import a theme shared with you

When someone shares a theme file (an .otlthx file) with you, you will need to import it into Office Timeline before you can use it. Don’t worry, the process is super simple:

  1. Save the .otlthx file to your hard drive.

  2. Go to the Office Timeline ribbon in PowerPoint and open the Themes window.

  3. Here, click the little dropdown arrow next to Create New Theme and select Import.

  4. Drag & drop the .otlthx file into the Import screen or Browse to select it from one of your folders.

  5. That’s it! You’ll find the new theme in My Themes, ready to apply to your timelines.


F) How to edit, rename, duplicate, or delete themes (Expert Edition)

Editing, renaming, duplicating and deleting themes can be done easily from the Themes window.

  1. To Edit a theme, select the one you want from the Themes window and click the Edit button below the timeline preview.
    After you save your changes, make sure to reapply the theme to any timelines using it, to update them with the new styling.

  2. To rename, delete, or duplicate a theme, click the 3 dots on its thumbnail and select the desired option from the dropdown menu.
    Note: Office Timeline themes cannot be renamed or deleted, only the custom ones can.




Themes FAQ


What’s the difference between themes and templates?

  • Themes build the look and feel of your timeline. This is where all your colors, fonts, shapes, and other style elements are stored.
  • Templates determine the layout and general arrangement of your timeline. With templates, you can quickly create Gantt charts or timelines with swimlanes and sub-swimlanes.


Can I change the default theme?

Certainly. From the Themes window, click the three dots on the theme you like and select “Set as Default Theme” from the menu.

How can I change the opacity of shapes in a theme?

When creating or editing a theme, you can set the transparency of swimlane headers & bodies, dependency links, and other shapes using the color picker. Simply click on the color option of the desired element and you’ll find the Opacity in the Custom Colors section of the picker.