Getting Timelines Right

Timelines are the backbone of every history project or “About Us” page. In books they can appear at the start, the end, or on chapter-opener spreads; with or without illustrations; with elaborations or “just the facts, ma’am.” Our history of Dempsey Uniform & Linen Supply, Soap in the Veins, opens with a very narrative timeline four pages long. Because we structured the book thematically rather than chronologically, we needed to corral all the milestones up front as a reference point.

Timelines look easy but they often aren’t. Discrepancies rise to the surface. We double-checked facts and resolved conflicting dates. Fortunately, our client’s founder, Patrick Dempsey Sr., had razor-sharp recall and records to back it up. Outside sources helped too. Art director Christine Reynolds carefully crafted the design, keeping in mind that clients sometimes like to enlarge timelines to display on lobby walls or at trade shows. Everything worked, and as Marketing VP and co-owner Kristin Dempsey said, “Finally we have all the dates and facts in one place!”