Quick timetabling guide

NOTE: This is an old blog post from 2012. Nowadays, it's much easier to start by watching getting started video tutorials.

So, you have been tasked to create a timetable for your school and are looking for a timetabling guide, manual or something that can assist you on the way. Well, this is it: a quick guide for easier introduction to Prime Timetable. It might take you 10-15 minutes, but it's still far less than reading online help or manual. Without further ado, let's start with timetabling terms.

Timetabling terms

There are many different educational institutions which use different terms. In short:

  • timetable = schedule
  • class = grade
  • subject = course or activity, and
  • lessons = sections.

Feeling confused? Check basic timetabling terms.

Creating a free account

If you haven't created a free account so far, go to our plans page and choose a free plan. Registration is easy and it only takes a minute. After the registration, Prime Timetable will be loaded and an empty timetable will show up.

We suggest that you get familiar with the interface by clicking clicking Open icon to browse through other timetable examples, which can be a great resource for learning and understanding. Obviously, there is no data so you need to enter some to enable timetabling tools.

Days and periods

In order to manage days and periods, mouse-over the owl and choose Manage > Days and Periods from the menu.

First you need to decide how many (working) days there will be in the cycle. For a 2-week timetable it may be 10, and for a 1-week timetable it may be 5.

Next, you need to decide how many periods are there in a day. This might be tricky, because one day there might be 8 periods and other days up to 10 periods. The general rule of the thumb is to choose the maximum period number; in this case that would be 10.

The number of periods is directly related to the number of lessons/activities per day, so you might optionally add lunch, break and similar activities and count them as a period. Many schools have different period intervals on different days and in that case you can add custom periods.

Subjects, rooms, teachers and classes

Before entering data, you should know that there are various importing options. For instance you can import data from Microsoft Office (Word, Excel) or from Google Docs simply by using copy/paste. Otherwise, you can enter data manually:

Choose Manage > Subjects to add subjects/courses, e.g. Math, History, etc. Lunch, break and other school activities can also be subjects.

Choose Manage > Room to add rooms/cabinets, e.g. Biology room, History room, Gym, dining room, reception hall, etc.

Choose Manage > Teachers to add teachers.

Choose Manage > Classes to add classes/grades. Choose a class from the grid and click Divisions to manage class divisions and groups, e.g. you can create English and French groups.

Manage activities

Choose Manage > Activities to add activities/lessons. Select teacher(s), subject, classes (and/or its groups), activities per cycle count, activity length and desired room(s) where a lesson can occur and/or alternative room(s).

When activities are entered, the related cards are placed in the unscheduled panel of the timetable in related row.

Saving changes and history

Click save icon to save changes. Use undo Undo tool and redo Redo tool to undo/redo latest changes.

Master view

Click view indicator Validate current timetable to change the current master timetable view, so you can see classes, teachers, rooms or subjects master view.

Extra view

Instead of switching views it might be useful to see more than one view on the screen, in which case you should use extra views.

Individual view

To choose individual class, teacher, room or subject view click on the desired first column in the timetable.

Adding constraints

Marker draws or erases forbidden, unwanted or mandatory card positions for classes, teachers, rooms and subjects.

Timetable marks

Forbidden (red minus), unwanted (yellow exclamation mark) and mandatory (blue plus) marks in the master teacher view

Automatic generator

Click play icon to start the automatic timetable generator. Before you do that, you may use the pin Pin/unpin timetable tool to fix the cards which are already on desired positions, so that they won't be moved during the generation process. The automatic generator will try to find the best solution by rearranging cards in order to solve all constraints and avoid any conflicts. Total generation progress is displayed in the window title as well as progress for specific categories: card conflicts, forbidden positions, class gaps, same day subjects, unwanted or mandatory positions, class and teacher warnings.


Notification number in the bell icon shows the total number of errors or warnings. The number is instantly updated along with all notifications upon any change. The bell icon shows or hides the notification list. The notification list can be dragged and resized to best suit your device screen. The timetable is valid if there are no notifications, which means that all entered requirements and constraints have been resolved. The red notification indicates that the timetable has a fatal error which needs to be fixed, whereas the blue one represents a warning. When red or blue notifications are clicked, related cells will blink in the view, making it easy to spot the problem. To stop blinking click the notification category title or click the bell icon to hide the whole notification list.

Manual timetabling

Cards can be manually dragged using the mouse or you can use sponge Sponge timetable tool to remove them from the timetable.

Customize cards

Choose Print > Card Designer or use right mouse click on any card to customize text, text positions, colors and borders in both master and individual timetable views as best suits your school needs. The configured template will be used in the newly created timetable and published timetable as well.

Share with colleagues

Need help? Choose Share > Share with Others to share the school account with other teachers and colleagues and assign them privileges. The "owner" can manage other users, the "creator" can create and modify timetables and the "viewer" can only view timetables.

Publish to the web

With one click you can publish a timetable, so it is visible on the web and students can see it. Just choose Share > Publish to the Web. The published timetable is accessible by any smartphone or tablet and is automatically updated when the timetable is modified.


When you are done with customization, what you see on the screen is what is going to be printed. You can print both master and individual timetable views and Prime Timetable will automatically do the paging. Choose Print > Print Timetable View or Print > Print All Individual Timetables.

The conclusion

This is just a quick timetabling guide to get you started. Feel free to use our online user voice to add your ideas and suggestions on how we can improve Prime Timetable.