Adding Callouts

Callouts are like thought balloons in a comic.  There are various designs for call-outs including starbursts, clouds and rectangles.  You can also add various effects to make them look three dimensional or tilted, etc.  The nice thing about callouts is that you can adjust the line coming out of the shape to point to an exact spot – in my case, to the date on the Date Bar.  To add a callout:

  • From the Insert tab at the top, click on “Shapes” and then select the Callout shape you’d like from the choices.
  • I chose a rectangle to keep it simple.  Draw the callout by clicking and dragging the mouse into the desired dimensions.  You can type your text immediately and then adjust the size of the callout to fit the text and the look you are going for.
  • The yellow diamonds on the callout line allow you to adjust the line to point to the exact point on the timeline that you’d like by clicking and dragging the line wherever you’d like.
  • Each callout can be formatted with color and other effects to bring attention to specific details.  For example, I chose colors for my callouts that match the colors I chose in the location bar to quickly show which county the fact was from. You can add effects by selecting “Shape Fill” under the Format tab.
  • You can add as many effects as you’d like to make the timeline look as 3-D or as simple as you’d like.
  • After you have inserted all of your callouts, some of the lines may be in front of the boxes.  To fix this, click on the callout and then under the “Format” tab, click on “Send to Back”.

There is no end to the number of effects you can add to your timeline.  For myself, spending time working on the timeline sometimes brings details into focus or shows me new areas to research.  It can show me areas where I’m making wrong assumptions and because I can add information for other family members as well, it can consolidate information in a way that makes sense visually as opposed to my notes which are filed by individual families.

I’d love to hear ideas of other things to include on a timeline!