Timelines are an essential part of litigation because they organize all relevant events of a case into a clear and logical order, facilitating comprehension for a Judge or jury. Before you start plotting dates on a PowerPoint slide, consider the following:
What is the focus of my timeline? The first thing you want to think about when creating a timeline is: “what am I trying to convey?” Consider what things you want to emphasize in your timeline. For example, are you highlighting that a substantial amount of time passed between two events, are you emphasizing a succession of events in a short amount of time, are you contrasting the actions and inactions of two different entities…? These considerations will have an impact on how you layout the events, how you effectively use the space of your slide and how you want to emphasize your data points.
How can I effectively use space to foster better understanding? There are a number of timeline formats to pick from, but the most often used in litigation are the calendar style or horizontal which track events from left to right. In the horizontal format, the dates can be on top, in the middle or on the bottom. What layout you decide on will depend on the focus of your timeline and/or your aesthetic preference. Regardless of which format you use, use the correct scale so that each year, month and day are consistently spaced.