About Date Formats

How to control the entry, display, and storage of dates in different formats.

How Dates are Stored

Dates are stored with sub-second precision even if a more general date format such as “2011” is displayed. Any date that you enter or import is translated to a precise date and the event layout is based on this date.

Date Entry and Validation

When dates and times are entered as text, the software interprets the text as a precise moment in time. This date stored by the software is stored at the beginning of the time period you specify. For example, if you enter “2011 CE” then the date is stored at the first second of January 1, 2011.

There are many different date formats used all over the world. Timeline 3D includes several preset date formats in addition to date formats based on the localized date settings you have chosen using the International panel in System Preferences.

The text you enter will be validated according to the date format you select. If you enter a date that does not match the date format specified by an event, you will get an error message. Therefor, start by choosing a date format that includes the precision you wish to capture and then enter your dates using this same format.

Changing the date format

Date Display Format

Though each date is stored as a very precise moment in time, it is often more appropriate to show a general time format. For example, you may choose not to display the time of day or you may choose to display only the year without the month and day. You can even choose “None” as a date format to hide the event date completely or select “Set Custom Date Label” in the event edit form to create a custom label for your event.

After you have entered your event dates, feel free to experiment with different date formats for display purposes. Changing the date format for existing events will only change the way the dates are validated and displayed, not the way they are stored and charted.

About Timeline Types

In addition to the various date and time settings available on your computer, you may also choose to build a timeline that is not based on calendar dates. When you create a new “Blank Timeline” document using the Intro Panel you can specify a timeline type. Choose Dates & Times, Geological Scale, or Quantities.

Choose Dates & Times If the events in your timeline took place within the last two million years and occurred on a specific date.

Choose Geological Scale to create a timeline of events that are more than two million years in the past, or more than two million years in the future.

Choose Quantities to create a timeline that uses quantities instead of dates.

Selecting Event Date Formats

To adjust the Event Date Format, use the Formats column in the Settings panel. Each timeline type will have a slightly different format options. The Row Tick Mark Format and the Row Tick Mark Spacing menus are pre-set to Automatic, but you can customize the way these are displayed by unchecking these options and using the drop down menus.

Quantities and Geological Scale timelines have a Thousands Separator and a Decimals menu in the Formats column. These options allow you to customize how you display very large numbers, making your timeline chart easier to understand.

Quantities timelines have a Prefix and Suffix box under the Event Quantity Format menu. Enter the Prefix and Suffix of the Quantity you would like to use in your timeline chart into the appropriate text boxes. For example, if you are creating a timeline chart of chapters in a book, enter “Chapter” in the Prefix box. If you are instead creating a timeline using dollars as the quantity, you would enter “Dollars” in the Suffix box.


  • We recommend that you use a date format that includes as much precision as is available to you during the editing process. When you are preparing your timeline for printing or export, change the date format to a setting that is most appropriate for displaying your particular events.

  • To enter a time span for an event, enter both a start date and end date. A horizontal bar will be displayed on the chart illustrating the span of time for the event.

  • To display a 24 hour clock, use the International panel in System Preferences to set your preferred time format this way first. You may need to relaunch Timeline 3D for the change to appear.