Feature Guide to Timelines in Timelines Knowledge Base | World Anvil
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Feature Guide to Timelines

With the timeline maker, you can create a detailed and interactive account of your world's history. Timelines include parallel events, filters for quick event searching, and of course, integration with your world and community. Here's everything you need to know to master time in your world!


If you created a timeline before February 8th, see the section at the bottom to learn how to migrate it to the new version.


1. Create a timeline

To create a timeline, follow these steps:

  1. Click on Timelines in the left sidebar.
  2. Click on the Timeline button to create a new one.
  3. In the creation screen on the right, give a title to the timeline.
  4. Click the submit button or Shift + Enter.

After creating it, you'll be redirected to the timeline interface.


2. Quick overview of the Timeline interface

Here's a very quick overview of the Timeline interface!

  • The top panel contains the timeline title and description. Click the double chevron to collapse or uncollapse it.
  • On the right, the mini-map shows a minimized preview of the entire timeline. The quick-jump arrows next to it will let you navigate between events.
  • You will find the editing tools at the bottom of the screen.
  • Finally, the canvas in the middle will display your events, eras, and lanes as you begin setting them up. Let's do that now!

By default, timelines use Timescale Mode, which displays all events and eras to scale. However, you can switch to List Mode in settings, to show events consecutively regardless of duration.


Not sure which mode you should choose? Check our tips to choose a timeline type!


3. Create your first event

In order to access Edit mode, click the edit button in the toolbar at the bottom.


Let's start by creating an event, the most basic element you'll create in your timeline. Follow these steps:

  1. Click the plus button in the toolbar.
  2. Fill out the text fields: the title and the start year are mandatory, while you can leave out the end year for events that last less than a year.
    Pro-tip: while the pop-up box is open, you can also scroll through the timeline to automatically fill in the start date!
  3. Click the Create button, and the event will appear in the timeline canvas!

When you create your first event, it will be placed in the timescale ribbon, located in the middle of the canvas. You will also see a pop-over sidebar appear to edit the event's details. Feel free to play around with it, but we'll get back to it later; for now, close it by clicking the caret.


If you want an event to appear in two timelines, you don't need to create it again. Learn how to add pre-existing events to your timeline!


4. Create an era

In Timelines, an era is a span of time between two specific dates, usually many years apart. For example, you might use eras to reflect dynasties, "The Ages of Man", or some other extended period of time in your world.


Here's how to create an era:

  1. Click on the little tab on the plus button in the toolbar. This will open a secondary toolbar. You can also click and hold to pull up the secondary toolbar.
  2. Click the hourglass button.
  3. Fill out the pop-up fields (all are mandatory) and click the Create button!

The era will be added to the central lane in the timeline canvas, and you will see it appear in the mini-map on the right side too.


There are two special era types (both unique):

  • Starting era: This is the first era of your world and, therefore, doesn't have a start year. To create it, use the button instead.
  • Current era: This is the most modern era of your world, so it doesn't have an end year. To create it, use the button.

You have multiple tools at your disposal to navigate a timeline, all located in the right side of the screen. Check the screenshot to see them in action!

  • Mini-map: The mini-map shows a preview of the eras in the entire timeline. The rectangle shows where you are in the timeline.
  • Quick jump arrows: Next to the mini-map, click the arrows around the year indicator to jump to the previous or next event directly.
  • Search and filters: Finally, the search bar and filter button at the top will let you find exactly the events you're looking for.

For more details about navigating your timeline, check this guide to timeline navigation!


These basic tools are all you need to create a full timeline for your world! Once you're familiar with them, keep reading to learn about more options and customization.


Additional options

The timeline maker has lots of options for customization. To access most of the following features, you'll need to enable Edit mode.


Using BBCode

Timelines have support for basic BBCode formatting, including article links using the mention system. Here's the full list of BBCode tags that work on timelines:

Click to reveal list
  • Paragraph tag: [p] [/p]
  • Line break: [br]
  • Horizontal separator: [hr]
  • Headers: [h1] [/h1] and the other headers (h2, h3, h4)
  • Basic text formatting tags: [b] [/b], [i] [/i], [u] [/u], [s] [/s], [small] [/small], [sub] [/sub], [sup] [/sup]
  • Table tags: [table] [/table], [tr] [/tr], [th] [/th], [td] [/td]
  • List tags: [ul] [/ul], [ol] [/ol], [li] [/li]
  • Paragraph indent: [in] [/in]
  • Image embedding: [img]
  • External URLs: [url] [/url]
  • Article links using the mention system.

Advanced event options

Click any event on your timeline to access the full edit menu, which opens as a side panel on the left. Here's a quick explanation of all fields:


Basic details

Edit the basic details at the top of the event editor:

  • Title: change the title by simply clicking on the title and typing the new name.
  • Tags: click on the tag button below the title to add tags. You can use tags to sort through events in the timeline.
  • Cover image: when you mouse over the event's image, two buttons will appear. Click the image button to select a new image and the cross to remove it.
  • Lane slider: use the slider to select which lane the event should be placed on. There are 11 lanes, so you can have up to 11 parallel events.

Time fields

The first fields are dedicated to setting up the event's time settings:

  • Start and end dates: use the top fields to define the exact time the event started (and ended, if applicable). This will be displayed on a tooltip when hovering over the event in the timeline canvas.
    Pro-tip: want to narrow it down to the minute? Click the + button on the right!
  • Alternative Display Date: use this if you want to change how the time is displayed in the event.

Event presentation

Then, there are several options you can use to tweak how the event looks and behaves:

  • Event Type and Importance: the event type will change the icon, while the importance will change the event's pin shape and default color. Use the Event Color field to override the default color.
  • Event Privacy (Guild-only): use this to make individual events private.
  • Display Date in Header: toggle whether you want the event's date displayed in the header of the event panel.
  • Description: a long-form text field where you can write everything about your event!


You can use all other fields to connect the event to other parts of your world, including characters, organizations, and more.


If you want the event to appear in other timelines as well, use the "Also Appears In" field. Learn more about adding pre-existing events to your timelines.


At the bottom of the editing panel there's a small "GM Seeds" field. Click it to add secret information about the event that you don't want other people to see!


Advanced era options

Similarly to the event, click on an era to open the editing panel to access all era options.


Basic details

Edit the basic details at the top of the era editor:

  • Title: change the title by simply clicking on the title and typing the new name.
  • Cover image: when you mouse over the era's image, a couple of buttons will appear. Click the image button to select a new image and the cross to remove it.

The era cover image is also used as the era's background on the timeline canvas. As the background stretches to fit your entire screen, the recommended image size is 1920 px wide and 300 px high, but you can go higher than that.


Pro-tip: you can use animated GIFs for a more immersive background in your timeline canvas.


Time settings

Use these options to tweak where and how the era is displayed in the timeline:

  • Start Year and End Year: note that eras can't overlap. Additionally, all eras must have a start and end year (except for the beginning and end eras; learn how to create them).
  • Alternative Display Date: anything you write in this field will replace the era's start and end years when viewing it.
    Pro-tip: if you have a very long but empty era, you can use this to make it shorter than it should be and hide it! For example, the first era in a world could be set to last just 20 years and have "Time immemorial" alternative date.
  • Era abbreviation: this is the equivalent of the real-world BCE and CE. Year indications of all events in this era will use this abbreviation. This field has a 10 character limit.

Other options

Here are all other options available to eras:

  • Description: use this to write as much as you need about the era.
  • Era color: this will change the color of the timescale ribbon and the minimap for the duration of the era.
  • Display Range in Header: toggle this off if you don't want to display the era's dates in the header.
  • Invert BCE Dates: this will invert the dates of the era so that the larger number is the start of the era. Turn this on to create the same effect as our BCE era.
  • Count offset: use this dropdown if you want the first year of the era to be reset to 0 or 1 (instead of continuing from the last year of the previous era).

Social interaction in timelines



To access the comments section of a timeline, click the speech bubble button in the toolbar. Use the main panel to leave comments and, if it's your timeline, to delete comments by other users.


On the right, use the "Timeline updates" panel to notify your world followers about updates to your timeline. Simply type a summary of the update in the text field and click Notify Followers. All of your world followers will get a notification with the content you wrote in the text field!


Sharing options

You can share any timeline on social media by switching to View mode and clicking the Share button. There are options available for Twitter, Reddit, as well as a simple copyable URL.



To link to your timeline from a different page on World Anvil, click the button on the left of the toolbar. For more details, check this quick guide.



General timeline settings

To access the timeline settings, click the gear icon in the bottom toolbar. Here you can tweak the following options:


Timeline settings modal.png

  • Mode switcher: timelines are set to timescale mode by default, but you can switch between both modes by clicking the button. Switching only changes how events are organized, so you can switch between Timescale and View Mode for a different perspective on your history!
  • Calendar, Article, Category: choose other content in your world that you want the timeline to be linked to.
  • Year to start timeline on: the year in which the timeline will load. You can create earlier events than that, this is just the initial loading point.
  • Default scale ribbon color: the scale ribbon is the lane in the middle of the canvas in which eras and events are placed by default. Each era can have a unique color that replaces the default one.
  • Display in table of contents: turn it off if you don't want your timeline displayed in the world homepage.
  • Default background image: use this option to change the default background image of the timeline as a whole.
  • Timeline Access (Guild-only): use the toggle to make the timeline public or private.
  • Subscriber groups (Guild-only): select the timeline's subscriber groups. Learn more about subscribers.

The settings modal also has a Metadata section, with useful information like creation date and author.


Change the timeline's name and description

To rename the timeline or edit its description, click the double chevron at the top to pull down the title panel and edit it there:



Advanced customization with CSS

As a Guild member, you can use CSS to customize the timeline; click the palette button in the toolbar to get started. Check out the Codex guide to CSS for more information, but keep in mind this is an advanced technical feature!



Check how to customize your timeline for CSS-less customization options!


Delete your timeline

Be careful: deleting a timeline is irreversible and will delete all eras in the timeline; once it’s done, there’s no way to get it back.


To delete your timeline, click the button on the left of the toolbar and select "Delete Timeline":



Migrating to the new timelines

If you created a timeline before February 8th 2024, it won't be updated automatically. However, migrating a timeline is as easy as following these steps:

  1. Go to Timelines in the left-hand sidebar.
  2. Mouse over the timeline you want to migrate, click on the vertical elipsis icon and click the ''Convert to Legacy'' option.
  3. The timeline will be migrated instantly!

Please note that, while there will be a grace period of at least 6 months from release to migrate your timelines, all timelines will eventually be migrated to the new system. Legacy timelines will no longer be supported, so they will not receive any more updates.