Setting Up Chronolator Documents
Creating a new Internal Chronology Document
In This Topic


Creating a new Internal Chronology document involves the following steps:

Special Columns

Chronolator treats most of the columns in a chronology table as free-form text, only checking them if you deem them mandatory. However, some columns play a major role in the way a Chronolator Document is processed.

These special columns are briefly described below. You define which ones you want in a document.

Chronolator's names for them are in bold type, but you can give them different headings in the chronology table.

Event order: Date, Time and Sequence columns

Up to five special columns can be used to specify when an event happened:

Chronolator can automatically populate the Sequence column with event reference numbers. It can also be used to specify the order of events on a particular day when their times are unknown.

When Chronolator checks a Chronology Document, it ensures that anything in a Date or Time column is a valid date or time, and that all the events are in order (either ascending or descending).

For ease of input, dates can be entered in a variety of formats. For example, all the following will be recognised:

Many mistyped dates can also be recognised, e.g. 22.05/16.

Sometimes people might not know exactly when an event occurred. In that case, they can add a question mark (e.g. ?22 may 2016).  

Source of Information column

It is vital that the source of information about an event is noted. The Source of Information column is therefore mandatory in all Chronolator Documents. It is the first one after the event ordering columns.

To make it easier for people to complete their information, there is no need for them to say what organisation they work for in this column.

For example, suppose someone who works for the Berrick New Town Clinic is entering data from a Health Visitor’s notes. They need only to record the source of information simply as, say, Health Visitor HV1 diary, not as Berrick New Town Clinic Health Visitor HV1 diary.

When you merge their chronology into a Composite Chronology, Chronolator adds the fact that the information is from Berrick New Town Clinic to the Source of Information column.

For example, if the clinic’s document contains this entry . . .

. . . after you have imported it, the entry will look like this:

Glossary column

A Glossary column can be included which should contain only defined abbreviations - for example, somebody's initials. This can be useful when a chronology contains information pertaining to more than one person. Chronolator will check that anything in this column has been defined in the Abbreviations Glossary.

‘Must Fill’ columns

You might want to ensure that a particular column is always completed for every event. You can do this when setting up the new Internal Chronology document by ticking its Must Fill box in the Case Details Wizard.

The Start Date and Source of Information columns are always ‘Must Fill’ columns. Whether the other special columns are is up to you.

Chronolator default Columns and headings

By default, Chronolator creates a table with the following headings, which are based on those recommended in the  London Child Protection Procedures.

The only special columns in the default table are the Start Date, Start Time, and Source of Information columns. As you can see, you can choose whatever you like for their headings: the Start Date and Start Time columns in the default table are simply headed Date and Time.

Step by Step guide

Open the Online Workbench

Open ChronolatorOnlineWorkbench.docm. You will find it in the ChronologySetup folder.

Macros and the Online Workbench toolbar

Chronolator works by using Word macros. Because they are computer programs, macros can be used to propagate and run computer viruses. Word therefore allows you to prevent them running, since for most documents they are unnecessary. However, for Chronolator they are essential.

If macros are allowed to run, Chronolator will ask you to confirm that you accept the terms of its Licence:

If that does not happen, please refer to Enabling Macros.

After you press OK to accept the licence terms, the Online Workbench Chronolator toolbar will be added to the Add-ins tab on the Word Ribbon:

Complete the Case Details Wizard

Click the New Internal Chronology button on the Chronolator toolbar:
The Case Details Wizard appears:

About the Case Details Wizard

There are four main things to know about the Case Details Wizard:

The panel on the left of each tab will usually give you enough information to proceed. If not, you can find more about the tab in the following parts of this document.

Model Tab

Using a Model lets you set all of a chronology’s features in one go. The fastest way to set up a Chronolator Document is to choose a suitable model, change its Case Reference, click the Summary tab, and press Finish.

You can use Chronolator’s default headings as a model, or those in an existing Chronolator document.

When you have chosen a model, use the other tabs to change individual aspects of the document.

If you make a lot of changes and then decide you do not want them, come back to the Model tab and press the Reset button to discard them and reload the model.

If you choose the wrong model by mistake, use the Model tab to choose a different one.

Case Reference Tab

If you are running several reviews at the same time it can be difficult to keep track of all the individual chronologies you receive. Giving each case a unique Case Reference helps prevent you from accidentally merging chronologies from different cases. If you try to do so, Chronolator will warn you about it.

The Case Reference is not displayed in the document itself.

Chronolator tries to ensure every case reference is unique by setting it to the date and time you started the Case Details Wizard. However, you can change it to whatever you want.

Sequencing and Source Tab

This is where you set the headings describing when an event occurred, and where the information about it came from.

As a minimum, Chronolator requires that every event has a Start Date and Source of Information; the relevant boxes are ticked and cannot be un-ticked.

You can set the text displayed in the column headings. In this example, the Start Date column will actually be headed Date.

If you want to include any other event ordering columns, tick the appropriate box and enter some text for their headings.

If you want a column always to be completed, tick its Must Fill box.

Chronolator defaults to having an optional Start Time column (its Must Fill box is not ticked). Without a Start Time column, if people want to enter a time they generally try to put it  in the next most relevant column , which is the Date one - and Chronolator then flags the date as an error.

General Headings Tab

You can specify up to eight general headings for each event, but you should remember that the more columns you have, the more cramped the table will be, even though it is presented in Landscape format.

To add a new heading, type it in the box at the bottom and press Add.

To change where a column appears, click on it and use the up or down arrow buttons.

To delete a heading, click on it and press Delete.

Must-Fill Columns Tab

When you want a particular column always to be completed, tick the box against it on this tab.

In this example, the Response or Outcome column has to be completed for every event.

Be careful before making a column ‘Must Fill’ - if people really have nothing appropriate to include in the column they will have to enter 'n/a' or something in it to prevent Chronolator flagging an error; or they might ignore other errors along with those ones.

Abbreviations Tab

A Chronolator Document can contain an Abbreviations Glossary. Each abbreviation can be up to ten characters long, and its definition up to thirty.

People can see the abbreviations you define, and can add and delete their own by using the Admin > Abbreviations button on the Internal or Composite Chronology toolbar. They cannot delete abbreviations you have defined.

How you use the glossary is up to you. It can just be an information repository for reference and recommendation, or it can be included in Chronolator error checking by including a Glossary column. It can also be used by the Anonymisation and Personalisation feature, and by a reviewer who wants to navigate through a document finding people of interest.

Using a Glossary column

If you want to make sure that any abbreviations an agency uses are defined in the glossary, you can create a Glossary column by ticking the Check Glossary box and entering a column heading. As with any column, you can say whether or not it has to be filled by ticking the Must Fill  box.

A Glossary column is placed after the Source of Information column.


Abbreviations used in other columns are not checked by Chronolator, though they do participate in Anonymisation and Personalisation.


As an example, consider a case involving several family members. You want every event in the chronology to include information about which members were involved.

You would define their initials in the glossary and provide a Glossary column. In this example, abbreviations have been defined for various relationships (Younger brother, Father), organisations (Department for Education, Clinical Commissioning Group), and an individual (Tony Sedgefield). Because Check Glossary is ticked and Column Heading is completed, Chronolator will create a column headed Inits. As Must Fill is ticked, it must always be filled. Chronolator will check that it only contains abbreviations (or their definitions) that are in the glossary.           

User-defined glossary entries

Agencies might also want to identify their personnel in an anonymous way - HV1 for a Health Visitor called Marion West for example. They can add their own abbreviations to the glossary as they complete a Chronolator Document.

When Chronolator merges chronologies, it keeps track of where each abbreviation was defined.

Anonymisation and Personalisation

The Abbreviations Glossary is also used to Anonymise and Personalise a document, and to navigate through a document finding people of interest. See Anonymisation and Personalisation in the Using Chronolator Documents Help for details.

Summary Tab

When you have entered all the details you want, click on the Summary tab to see exactly what you have defined. If you need to make any changes, use the appropriate tab and then come back to the Summary tab for a final check.

When everything is OK, press the Finish button.

Save the document


When you press the Finish button in the Case Details Wizard, Chronolator creates an Internal Chronology to your specifications and asks you where to save it and what to call it.

Choose a suitable location and file name and press Save.

In recent years some email systems (notably the NHS in the UK) have blocked the .docm file type that is the default used by Chronolator. You can avoid this problem by saving a document with the .doc file type; do this by changing Word Macro-Enabled Document (*.docm) in the above Save As dialog to Word 97-2003 document (*.doc).

For the most up-to-date information about email transmission, see this FAQ item on the Chronolator Web site .

Update the preamble

After the new Internal Chronology is saved, Chronolator opens it so you can edit the preamble.

The preamble is above the chronology table. It describes the document, says who it should be returned to, and provides some information about Chronolator.

Chronolator does not check or process the preamble in any way; you can put whatever you want in it, or even delete it. For example, if you intend to distribute the Internal Chronology to the various agencies by email, you could include the preamble in the email and attach an Internal Chronology containing only the table. It is up to you.

It makes sense to tell people how you expect each column to be used. Chronolator generates a What to put in the table section in the preamble describing each column, including any information about what checks Chronolator will make. You can update this table with any information or instructions you like.

Final checks

Make sure the table column headings are exactly what you want and have no typos. If you need to change them, do not do so in this document, but go back to the Online Workbench and create another Internal Chronology using this document as a model.

Before you send out the document, close and re-open it, and press the Check Tables button on its Chronolator toolbar. There should be no problems, but if there are it is better that you find and fix them now rather than have your recipients all complaining to you!

Creating a file for the Chronolator Data Entry Browser Tool

If you want to create a file that your partner agencies can complete using the online Chronolator Data Entry Tool (one of the Chronolator Browser Tools) instead of Word,  use the Publish > JSON button in the new Internal Chronology to produce a JSON file to send to them.

If you want to protect the chronology with a password,  do not circulate the JSON file. Instead:

More details about exchanging data with the Chronolator Browser Tools can be found in the Working with the Browser Tools and Incorporating the Browser Tools into your workflow topics.

Changing the preamble for all Internal Chronologies

You can make permanent changes to the preamble text if you want - for example, to put your own contact details in it. The preamble text is kept in ChronolatorMasterChronologyText.docx, a Word document in the same ChronologySetup folder as the Online Workbench. You can edit it and save your changes, and they will be incorporated in any new Internal Chronologies.