Using Chronolator Documents
Step by Step Guide
In This Topic

Step 1 - Make a blank Composite Chronology document

How you make a blank Composite Chronology depends on what type of administrator you are:

If you are a Case Review Administrator

If you are a Local Administrator

Press the New Composite Chronology button on the Online Workbench toolbar.

Press the Admin > New Composite Chronology button on the Internal Chronology toolbar.

New Composite Chronology button in the Online Workbench

New Composite Chronology button in an Internal Chronology

Chronolator displays Word's Save As dialog for you to choose what to call the new Composite and where to save it.

Enter a suitable name and location and press Save.

Save a Composite Chronology

For maximum compatibility with other Word versions, and to avoid some problems which occasionally arise when emailing Word Macro-Enabled Document files, change the Save as type to Word 97-2003 Document before pressing Save.

Save a Composite Chronology

If you are a Case Review Administrator, the Online Workbench stays open when the Composite Chronology is created. You might need to switch to the Composite Chronology using the Windows taskbar.

If you are a Local Administrator, the Internal Chronology closes and the Composite Chronology is opened.

From this point on, there are no differences between what Case Review Administrators and Local Administrators do to produce a Composite Chronology.

Step 2 - Identify the Composite Chronology Toolbar

The Composite Chronology has a new toolbar. Chronolator never displays buttons for irrelevant tasks, so a new Composite Chronology contains just three buttons:

Toolbar in a new Composite Chronology

After you have imported the first document, the toolbar expands to include buttons for the other tasks that become possible:


Toolbar in a Composite Chronology that contains at least one agency    

Step 3 - Import Chronology Documents into the Composite Chronology

Identify and check a file to import

Although Chronolator will have warned people if it found errors in their documents, it cannot force them to correct them. Before you import a document, you should open it and check it using the Check Tables button on its own Chronolator toolbar.

If the document has errors which you cannot correct yourself, ask the person who sent it to you for clarification, or return it to them for correction; it is better to sort things out now rather than later.

Chronolator will import a document with errors if you need to do so. Correcting them before import is simply our best practice recommendation.

If you are satisfied with the document, close it and return to your Composite Chronology.

Press the Import Tables button

Press the Import Tables button to display Word's Open dialog.

Open the document you want to import.

Import Tables button in a new Composite Chronology
When you import a document into a new Composite Chronology, Chronolator copies in the entire document, including its preamble (if any) and the internally stored Case Details.

When you import subsequent documents, Chronolator checks that they relate to the same case and copies all tables matching the Case Details to the end of the Composite Chronology.

Specify where the document came from

After checking that the document contains tables with the right headings, Chronolator asks you to identify where it came from. For example, if you were to import a document from the Police, you might enter this:

Source of Information prompt

When you press OK, Police > will be added to whatever is already in the Source of Information column.

For example, if the Police's document contains this entry . . .

Source of Information in original document

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

Source of Information after import

You can import all the documents you have to hand before proceeding to the next step, or you might prefer to import, merge, and format them one by one. It is up to you.

Step 4 - Merge tables in a Composite Chronology

Use the Merge Tables button to combine all the tables in the Composite Chronology into a single table.

Merge Table button

Chronolator automatically resizes any tables whose column widths are different from those of the first table.

Step 5 - Format Dates

The various organisations and departments who completed the Internal Chronology documents you distributed will probably have entered dates in a variety of different ways (01.02.16, February 1 2016, 1/2/16 and so on). This does not hamper Chronolator's validity checks, but it does look untidy.

You can use the Format Dates button to put them all into a consistent format. When you press it, you will see today's date displayed in four different formats. Press the one you want.

Format Dates button

The available formats present January 26 2020 as 26 Jan 2020 or 2020‑01‑26. The latter is the ISO 8601 format. Both formats can be enhanced with the day of the week, which can be useful for a reviewer trying to establish patterns of behaviour.

When you format dates, any Time columns are also formatted. The format conforms to ISO 8601 (a 24-hour time delimited by a colon, e.g. 18:15).

Step 6 - Sort the Chronology

Use the Sort Tables button to sort the merged table into the correct order. When you press it, a menu drops down so you can choose whether to sort the table in ascending or descending order.

Sort Tables button

Press the order you want. Chronolator will sort the table using the Date and Time columns that the Case Review Administrator specified.

Chronolator puts un-timed events for a particular day before timed events when sorting in Ascending order, or after them when sorting in Descending order. See How does Chronolator sort events with blank times and End Dates? for an example.

Sorting mixed formats

Putting dates and times into a consistent format before sorting is recommended as it makes the sort easier for Word, and thus more reliable.

Early versions of Word had a bug which prevented Sort from working in some circumstances. Circumventing that bug was the reason for introducing the ISO 8601 format, which Word unfailingly sorted correctly. If you do encounter problems sorting, try this:

Step 7 - Final checks

You can use the Check Tables button to make a final check that the Composite Chronology is valid as far as Chronolator is concerned.

Check Tables button
You should also read through the document to make sure it makes sense. Chronolator certainly simplifies the process of producing these documents, but it is only a computer program and cannot correct human failings!

In particular, you might want to check that any time-critical events are in sequence if the document does not contain Chronolator's Start Time or Finish Time columns, or if they have not been completed. If they are not, consider using a Sequence column (see Using a Sequence column).

Step 8 (Optional) - Publishing a chronology document

When you have completed a chronology document you can publish it without the Chronolator program code so that your recipients will not have to do anything about macros and licence terms whenever they open it.

Pressing Publish > Exact Copy copies everything to a new document, and then displays Word's Save As dialog so you can choose where to save it.

Publish Exact Copy button

The original Chronolator document is unchanged by this process.

As well as making an exact copy, you can:

 See Publishing a chronology for more details.