Produced by Brandon Locke

What can you do with Neatline?

Neatline is an exhibit-buiding framework that makes it possible to create beautiful, complex maps and connect them with timelines. Neatline is built as a suite of plugins for the Omeka, a digital archive-building framework that supplies a powerful platform for content management and web publication.

Neatline is great for developing spatial and temporal narratives to illustrate how events unfolded over time and space. This tutorial is intended for individuals interested in developing a Neatline-only project - if you are interested in developing a digital collection with Neatline integration, make sure to see our guide on Omeka as well.


Undergraduate-developed Projects

Reasearcher-developed Projects

The developers of Neatline have a list of additional Neatline Demos you can explore.

Getting started with Neatline

You’ll need to speak with a LEADR staff member to get you set up with a Neatline installation. We’ll need to know your email address and the short project title you’d like to use in the URL. It should be specific but concise.

Because Neatline is a plugin for Omeka, you’ll be doing work in both the Omeka and Neatline interfaces.

Setting up an Exhibit

In Neatline, an exhibit is a single canvas (usually a map) that you can add images, texts, timelines, or illustrations to.

  1. Log in to your Omeka account
  2. Click on ‘Plugins’ at the top and then click Activate for ‘Neatline’, ‘Neatline Features’, ‘Neatline Widget - Text’, ‘Neatline Time’, and ‘Neatline Widget - Waypoints’. You may not use all of these features, but it doesn’t hurt to have them enabled. If these plugins aren’t listed, contact LEADR staff.
  3. After all of these are enabled, there should be a ‘Neatline’ link on the left-hand side of the screen. Click on that to enter the Neatline editing dashboard.
  4. Click ‘Create an Exhibit’ and fill out the form.
    • Title
    • URL Slug
    • Narrative
    • Widgets (this will show possible selections - I’ll add them all for this tutorial, but you can always add/delete these if you need to)
    • Public (checkbox at the bottom - you may as well make it public right away)
    • For all of the rest, we’ll leave them as they are - you may need to come back to them at some point.
  5. Click ‘Save Exhibit’ to generate your new Omeka exhibit.
  6. Once you return to the Neatline dashboard (it may take a minute), click on your exhibit title to enter the editing screen.

Adding records to Neatline

All content (images, text, etc.) added to the exhibit must be added as a ‘Record’. Records can be tied to a map (as a point, a shape, or a line), a timeline, or both. A record can either be text added through this interface (or an image or video, using custom HTML), or tied to an Omeka item.

On the Neatline editor page, click ‘New Record.’ This will bring up a record editing bar on the left side of the page with four tabs: Text, Item, Map, Style. There are ‘Save’ buttons at the bottom of each tabbed page, and it’s recommended that you use them often.

Tabs for adding records


Here you can assign the record a Title and you have the option to add text (or customized HTML) to the record.


This is where you can include an Omeka item as a record. You’ll need to create it before you can use it in Neatline, but any later edits to the Omeka item will be reflected. Click in the ‘Search Omeka items’ box and start to type in the name of the item. It will return results as you type.


Here you can add your record to the map as one or more points, lines, or polygons.

Before you begin placing records on the map, you may want to set a default map location. The default window goes to Null Island, but you can recenter it by clicking on the ‘Styles’ tab at the exhibit home page, moving the window to where you’d like it, and then clicking ‘Use Current Viewport as Default’.


Using the Timeline function

Activate SIMILE Timeline

The timeline that appears at the bottom of the Neatline Viewer must be activated in the Omeka Plugins page (it is called ‘Neatline Widget ~ SIMILE Timeline).

Add record to the Timeline

To place a record on the timeline, go to the ‘Style’ tab for the record and add SIMILE Timeline to the Widgets field. The record’s placement is dependent upon the record’s ‘Start Date’ and ‘End Date’.

An item’s color on the timeline can be customized by adjusting the Fill and Stroke color options on the Style tab.

Customize the Timeline

At the Neatline dashboard, click on the ‘Plugins’ tab and then select SIMILE Timeline. You will have 5 fields for customization.

Sources for this Guide

Return to LEADR’s Resources list