Module 4: Visual chronology template

Download the alternative format & template
(Powerpoint format, 169 KB,  3 slides)

Visual Timeline of Events User Guide & Template

A Visual Chronology illustrates high-level activities that occurred during an investigation using an epidemic curve.


Chronology of Events. Although events to be included in the timeline are specific to each investigation, consider including:

  • Date when an event is first identified or when the lead agency is notified
  • Date the outbreak is declared (start date) and date when it is declared over (end date)
  • Dates of OICC activation and deactivation
  • Date the investigation is expanded (e.g. a new province is added)
  • Date that an epidemiological assessment is prepared for a health risk assessment
  • Dates of important findings (e.g. traceback findings, laboratory positive food sample, epidemiologic study)
  • Dates of public health action: communications: to public health professionals (e.g. public health alert) or the public (e.g. public health notice); recall of products.

Two Epidemic Curves. Using the line list for the investigation, create two epidemic curves in Excel with identical axes:

  • Number of Confirmed Cases by Date of Onset
  • Number of Confirmed Cases by Date Reported to Public Health


The event details should be condensed and written in present tense.

The events need to be categorized into one of the following categories:

  • Outbreak Identification & Source Implication
  • Traceback and Regulatory Activities, and Results of Product Testing


Using the template in this guide (Page 2 of alternative format; download above), you can create a visual “Timeline of Events”.

  1. In the “Design” menu, choose the orientation of the timeline (i.e. portrait or landscape) .
  2. Copy over two epidemic curves (paste as “Picture format”) into the template – keep them the same size.
  3. Using the box & lines provided in the template; create as many copies as needed.
  4. Place the chronology content in the appropriate event box :
    • In the Blue boxes, place the Outbreak Identification & Source Implication content
    • In the Green Boxes, place the Traceback and Regulatory Activities (and results of product testing)
  5. Using the connectors/lines, match the date in the event box to the date on the epidemic curves
  6. Format/move/add/delete event boxes and lines as needed
    • Ensure all Fonts are the same and arrange/format the visual timeline to your preference
    • Tip: When the connector/line is selected, a yellow icon appears that can be used to readjust the orientation
    • Tip: Group and ungroup the line and box objects as needed (right-click the objects >> select “group”)