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How to Make a Timeline

Part 2: Timelines in History

Historians, too, use timelines to track things like the growth of a civilization, the progress of a war, and the development of a new

They can also keep track of important dates in history like when famous explorers set off on their famous voyages.

For instance, look at this list of explorers, listed in alphabetical order:

  • Columbus reaches the New World in 1492
  • Da Gama reaches India in 1498
  • Drake completes sailing around the world in 1580
  • Magellan discovers what comes to be called the Strait of Magellan in 1520

Now, let's put these events on a timeline (below). Notice how they change order. Notice also that the distance between Columbus and Da Gama (6 years) is much smaller on the timeline than the distance between Magellan and Drake (60 years). This is another good use of a timeline. It can help you tell that certain events happened much closer together in time than other events.

So the next time someone asks you to make a timeline, don't be frightened by all the dates. Remember, the more timelines you see, the better you'll understand them. It's only a matter of time until you're an expert.

First page > Timeline Basics > Page 1, 2


Graphics courtesy of David White

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