Create a basic flowchart in Visio (2023)

Flowcharts are diagrams that show the steps in a process. Basic flowcharts are easy to create and, because the shapes are simple and visual, they are easy to understand.

Note:You can also automatically create a basic flow chart from data by using a Data Visualizer diagram in Visio. For more information, see Create a Data Visualizer diagram.

The Basic Flowchart template in Visiocomes with shapes that you can use to show many kinds of processes, and it is especially useful for showing basic business processes like the proposal development process shown in the following figure.

Create a basic flowchart in Visio (1)

Create a flowchart

  1. Start Visio.

  2. Click the Flowchart category.

  3. Double-click Basic Flowchart.

  4. For each step in the process that you are documenting, drag a flowchart shape onto your drawing.

  5. Connect the flowchart shapes by holding the mouse pointer over the first shape, and then clicking the small arrow that appears that points to the shape you want to connect to. If the second shape is not directly across from the first shape, click and hold the small arrow, drag it to the second shape, and drop the connector in the middle of the second shape.

  6. To add text to a shape or connector, select it, and then type. When you are finished typing, click on a blank area of the page.

  7. To change the direction of a connector's arrow, select the connector, and then, on the Shape tab, in the Shape Styles group, click Line, point to Arrows, and select the arrow direction and style that you want.

Fix alignment and spacing

  1. Press CTRL+A to select everything on the drawing page.

  2. On the Home tab, in the Arrange group, click Position, and then click Auto Align & Space.

If that doesn’t do what you want, press Ctrl+Z to undo it, and then try some of the other options under the Align and Position buttons.

Create a basic flowchart in Visio (2)

What the flowchart shapes represent

When you open the Basic Flowchart template, the Basic Flowchart Shapes stencil opens too. Each shape on the stencil represents a different kind of step in a process. However, there is no standard, universal meaning for the shapes – any shape can carry whatever meaning is agreed on by the people who will create and read the flowcharts. Most flowcharts tend to use only three or four of the shapes, unless there is a clear business reason to use more.

That said, Visio shapes have names that suggest their most common uses. Here are some of the most common shapes:

  • Start/EndUse this shape for the first and last step of your process.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (3)

  • ProcessThis shape represents a typical step in your process. This is the most frequently used shape in almost every process.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (4)

  • Decision This shape indicates a point where the outcome of a decision dictates the next step. There can be multiple outcomes, but often there are just two — yes and no.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (5)

  • SubprocessUse this shape for a set of steps that combine to create a sub-process that is defined elsewhere, often on another page of the same document. This is useful if the diagram is very long and complex.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (6)

  • DocumentThis shape represents a step that results in a document.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (7)

  • DataThis shape indicates that information is coming into the process from outside, or leaving the process. This shape can also be used to represent materials and is sometimes called an Input/Output shape.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (8)

  • On-page referenceThis small circle indicates that the next (or previous) step is somewhere else on the drawing. This is particularly useful for large flowcharts where you would otherwise have to use a long connector, which can be hard to follow.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (9)

  • Off-page referenceWhen you drop this shape onto your drawing page, a dialog box opens where you can create a set of hyperlinks between two pages of a flowchart or between a sub-process shape and a separate flowchart page that shows the steps in that sub-process.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (10)

See Also

Video: Create a flowchart

View sample Visio templates and diagrams online

Build Visio diagrams using a touch screen

Create a new flowchart

  1. Start Visio for the web​​​​​.

  2. In the Gallery on the home page, scroll down to the Basic Flowchart category.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (11)

  3. Choose an option from that row, then click its Create button.

    The first option gives you stencil with standard shapes, plus a blank canvas to start with. The other options in the row provide a stencil and also a starter diagram with several shapes already added to the canvas.

    (Video) How to Draw Visio Flowchart Diagrams

Design the flowchart

  1. For each step in the process that you are documenting, drag a flowchart shape onto your drawing.

  2. Connect the flowchart shapes by holding the mouse pointer over the first shape, and then clicking the small arrow that appears that points to the shape you want to connect to. If the second shape is not directly across from the first shape, click and hold the small arrow, drag it to the second shape, and drop the connector in the middle of the second shape.

  3. To add text to a shape or connector, select it, and then type. When you are finished typing, press the Esc key.

  4. To change the direction of a connector's arrow, select the connector, and then, on theShapetab, select the down arrow next to Shape Outline.

    The Shape Outline gallery appears.

  5. Point at Arrows, and then select the arrow style and direction you want.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (12)

See Also

Add connectors between shapes

Edit connector lines, arrows, or points

Create a flowchart

  1. Click the File tab.

    Don't see the File tab?

    If you do not see the File tab, proceed to the next step in the procedure.

  2. Click New, click Flowchart, and then under Available Templates, click Basic Flowchart.

  3. Click Create.

  4. For each step in the process that you are documenting, drag a flowchart shape onto your drawing.

    Note:See the section What the flowchart shapes represent for information on which shapes to use for each step.

  5. Connect the flowchart shapes in either of the following ways.

    Connect two shapes together:

    1. On the Home tab, in the Tools group, click Connector.

    2. Drag from a connection point Create a basic flowchart in Visio (13) on the first shape to a connection point on the second shape. The connector endpoints turn red when the shapes are connected.

      Create a basic flowchart in Visio (14)

    Connect one shape to many from a single connection point:

    By default, connectors are set to Right-Angle so that if you connect a single point on one shape to three other shapes it will look like the figure below.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (15)

    To have each connector radiate straight from the central point on the first shape to points on each of the other shapes you need to set the connectors to Straight Connector as shown in the following figure.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (16)

    1. On the Home tab, in the Tools group, click Connector.

    2. For each shape you want to connect to, drag from the same connection point Create a basic flowchart in Visio (17) on the first shape to a connection point on each of the other shapes.

    3. Right-click each connector and click Straight Connector.

  6. To return to normal editing, on the Home tab, in the Tool group, click Pointer Tool.

  7. To add text to a shape or connector, select it, and then type. When you are finished typing, click on a blank area of the page.

  8. To change the direction of a connector's arrow, select the connection, and then in the Shape group, click the arrow to the right of Line, point to Arrows, and select the arrow direction that you want.

Top of Page

Print a large flowchart

The easiest way to print a flowchart that is larger than your printer paper is to print it onto multiple pieces of paper and then tape the pieces together.

Before you start to print, it's important to make sure that the drawing page, as it appears in Visio, contains the whole flowchart. Any shapes that hang off the edge of the Visio drawing page will not print.

To print a large flowchart, do the following:

  1. With your flowchart open, on the Design tab, in the Page Setup group, click Size, and select Fit to Drawing.

  2. Click the File tab.

    (Video) Visio Basic Flowchart

    Don't see the File tab?

    If you do not see the File tab, proceed to the next step in the procedure.

  3. Click Print, and then click Print Preview.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (18)
  4. To print your flowchart onto multiple pieces of paper, do the following:

    1. In Print Preview, in the Print group, click Page Setup.

    2. On the Print Setup tab, in the Printer paper box, select the paper size you want if it isn't already selected.

    3. Click OK.

    4. In the Preview group, click Single Tile to see how your drawing will print on each sheet. (You can switch between pages by clicking Next Tile or Previous Tile.)

    5. When you are satisfied with how your drawing looks, in the Print group, click Print.

    6. After the drawing is printed, you can trim the margins, overlap the pages, and tape them together.

  5. To print your flowchart onto a single piece of paper, do the following:

    1. In Print Preview, in the Print group, click Page Setup.

    2. On the Print Setup tab, in the Printer paper box, select the paper size you want if it isn't already selected.

    3. Under Print zoom, select Fit to.

    4. To the right of Fit to, type 1 in the box next to sheet(s) across , and type 1 in the box next to sheet(s) down .

    5. Click OK.

    6. In the Print group, click Print.

What the flowchart shapes represent

When you open the Basic Flowchart template, the Basic Flowchart Shapes stencil opens, too. Each shape on the stencil represents a different step in a process.

Visio 2010 includes many other, specialized stencils and shapes that you can use in your flowchart diagram. For more information about how to find more shapes, see Use the Shapes window to organize and find shapes.

  • Start/EndUse this shape for the first and last step of your process.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (19)

  • ProcessThis shape represents a step in your process.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (20)

  • SubprocessUse this shape for a set of steps that combine to create a sub-process that is defined elsewhere, often on another page of the same drawing.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (21)

  • DocumentThis shape represents a step that results in a document.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (22)

  • DataThis shape indicates that information is coming into the process from outside, or leaving the process. This shape can also be used to represent materials and is sometimes called an Input/Output shape.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (23)

  • On-page referenceThis small circle indicates that the next (or previous) step is somewhere else on the drawing. This is particularly useful for large flowcharts where you would otherwise have to use a long connector, which can be hard to follow.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (24)

  • Off-page referenceWhen you drop this shape onto your drawing page, a dialog box opens where you can create a set of hyperlinks between two pages of a flowchart or between a sub-process shape and a separate flowchart page that shows the steps in that sub-process.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (25)

Note: Can't find the shape you need? To learn about how to find other shapes, see Use the Shapes window to organize and find shapes

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Create a flowchart

  1. On the File menu, point to New, point to Flowchart, and then click Basic Flowchart.

  2. For each step in the process that you are documenting, drag a flowchart shape onto your drawing.

  3. Connect the flowchart shapes in either of the following ways.

    Note:For information on other ways to connect shapes, see Add connectors between shapes in Visio.

    (Video) Basic flowcharts in Microsoft Visio

    Connect two shapes together

    1. Click the Connector tool Create a basic flowchart in Visio (26) on the Standard toolbar.

    2. Drag from a connection point Create a basic flowchart in Visio (27) on the first shape to a connection point on the second shape. The connector endpoints turn red when the shapes are connected.

      Create a basic flowchart in Visio (28)

    Connect one shape to many from a single connection point

    By default, connectors are set to Right-Angle so that if you connect a single point on one shape to three other shapes it will look like the figure below.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (29)

    To have each connector radiate straight from the central point on the first shape to points on each of the other shapes you need to set the connectors to Straight Connector as shown in the following figure.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (30)

    1. Click the Connector tool Create a basic flowchart in Visio (31) on the Standard toolbar.

    2. For each shape you want to connect to, drag from the same connection point Create a basic flowchart in Visio (32) on the first shape to a connection point on each of the other shapes.

    3. Right-click each connector and click Straight Connector.

  4. Click the Pointer tool Create a basic flowchart in Visio (33) on the Standard toolbar to return to normal editing.

  5. To add text to a shape or connector, select it, and then type. When you are finished typing, click on a blank area of the page.

  6. To change the direction of a connector's arrow, select the connection, and then on the Shape menu, point to Operations, and click Reverse Ends.

What the flowchart shapes represent

When you open the Basic Flowchart template, the Basic Flowchart Shapes stencil opens too. Each shape on the stencil represents a different step in a process.

Of all of the shapes on the Basic Flowchart Shapes stencil, only a few are commonly used. Those commonly used shapes are described here. For more information about the less commonly used shapes open the expandable link (Less frequently used flowchart shapes) at the end of this section.

  • TerminatorUse this shape for the first and last step of your process.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (34)

  • ProcessThis shape represents a step in your process.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (35)

  • Predefined processUse this shape for a set of steps that combine to create a sub-process that is defined elsewhere, often on another page of the same drawing.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (36)

  • DecisionThis shape indicates a point where the outcome of a decision dictates the next step. There can be multiple outcomes, but often there are just two—yes and no.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (37)

  • DocumentThis shape represents a step that results in a document.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (38)

  • DataThis shape indicates that information is coming into the process from outside, or leaving the process. This shape can also be used to represent materials and is sometimes called an Input/Output shape.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (39)

  • Flowchart shapesYou can right-click this multi-shape to set to any of the following shapes: Process, Decision, Document, or Data. Any text you type onto the shape, or information you add to its Shape Data, remains with the shape.

    This is what the shape looks like on the stencil:

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (40)

    This is what you see when you drag the shape onto the drawing page and right-click it:

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (41)

  • Stored dataUse this shape for a step that results in information being stored.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (42)

  • On-page referenceThis small circle indicates that the next (or previous) step is somewhere else on the drawing. This is particularly useful for large flowcharts where you would otherwise have to use a long connector, which can be hard to follow.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (43)

  • Off-page referenceWhen you drop this shape onto your drawing page, a dialog box opens where you can create a set of hyperlinks between two pages of a flowchart or between a sub-process shape and a separate flowchart page that shows the steps in that sub-process.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (44)

Less frequently used flowchart shapes

  • Dynamic connectorThis connector draws a path around shapes it encounters.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (45)

    (Video) Create a flowchart using Visio

  • Line-curve connectorThis connector has adjustable curvature.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (46)

  • Auto-height box This is a bordered text box that adjusts to accommodate the amount of text you type. You can set the width by dragging the sides of the shape. Although this shape doesn't represent a step in a process, it is a handy way to add a text box to your flowchart.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (47)

  • Annotation This bracketed text box adjusts to accommodate the amount of text you type. You can set the width by dragging the sides of the shape. Like the Auto-height box shape, this shape doesn't represent a step in a process. Use this to add comments about your flowchart shapes.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (48)

  • Manual inputThis is a step where a person provides information to the process.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (49)

  • Manual operationThis is a step that must be performed by a person.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (50)

  • Internal storageThis shape represents information stored on a computer.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (51)

  • Direct dataThis shape represents information stored so that any single record can be accessed directly. This represents how a computer hard-drive stores data.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (52)

  • Sequential dataThis shape represents information stored in sequence, such ad data on a magnetic tape. When data is stored in sequence, it must be retrieved in sequence. For example, in order to access record 7 you would have to first go through records 1 through 6.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (53)

  • Card and Paper tapeThis shape represents a physical card or paper tape. Early computer systems used a system of punch cards and paper tape to store and retrieve data and to store and run programs.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (54)

  • DisplayThis shape represents information that is displayed to a person, usually on a computer screen.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (55)

  • PreparationThis shape indicates where variables are initialized in preparation for a procedure.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (56)

  • Parallel modeThis shape shows where two different processes can operate simultaneously.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (57)

  • Loop limitThis shape marks the maximum number of times a loop can run before it must go on to the next step.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (58)

  • Control transferThis shape indicates a step that goes to a step other than the typical next step when certain conditions are met.

    Create a basic flowchart in Visio (59)

Printing large flowcharts

The easiest way to print out a flowchart that is larger than your printer paper is to print it onto multiple pieces of paper and then tape the pieces together.

Before you start printing, however, it's important to make sure that the drawing page, as it appears in Visio, contains the entire flowchart. Any shapes that hang off the edge of the Visio drawing page will not print. You can see whether the drawing page is large enough for the flowchart by checking the preview on the Page Setup dialog box (File menu, Page Setup, Print Setup tab).

Create a basic flowchart in Visio (60)

1. A flowchart that is too large for the Visio drawing page.

2. A flowchart that fits the Visio drawing page.

Make your Visio drawing page fit your flowchart

  1. With your flowchart open, on the File menu click Page Setup.

  2. Click the Page Size tab.

  3. Under Page size click Size to fit drawing contents.

To see how the flowchart will print, look at the Print Preview, which is on the File menu. The figure below shows a flowchart that prints on four pieces of letter-sized paper.

Create a basic flowchart in Visio (61)

Print a large flowchart onto multiple pieces of paper

  1. On the File menu, click Page Setup.

  2. On the Print Setup tab, in the Printer paper box, select the paper size you want if it isn't already selected. Don't click OK yet.

  3. On the Page Size tab, click Size to fit drawing contents. The preview now shows the difference between the new page and the printer paper.

  4. Click OK.

  5. On the File menu, click Print Preview to see how the flowchart will print.

    Note:If there are shaded margins between the pages, they mark areas that print on both pieces of paper so that when you assemble the pieces there are no gaps in the flowchart.

    (Video) How to Draw Visio Process Flow Diagram

  6. After the drawing is printed, you can trim the margins, overlap the pages, and tape them together.

FAQs

Create a basic flowchart in Visio? ›

Create a flowchart
  1. Click the File tab. ...
  2. Click New, click Flowchart, and then under Available Templates, click Basic Flowchart.
  3. Click Create.
  4. For each step in the process that you are documenting, drag a flowchart shape onto your drawing. ...
  5. Connect the flowchart shapes in either of the following ways.

What is the easiest way to create a flowchart? ›

How to Create Stunning Flowcharts in Microsoft Word - YouTube

Is Visio good for flowcharts? ›

Easy to use tool, makes complex flowchart and diagram quickly. Visio is a premium tool that makes simple to complex diagrams and flow charts in a simple methods with the help of inbuilt functionalities and pre-defined templates.

What is a basic flowchart? ›

A flowchart is simply a graphical representation of steps. It shows steps in sequential order and is widely used in presenting the flow of algorithms, workflow or processes. Typically, a flowchart shows the steps as boxes of various kinds, and their order by connecting them with arrows.

Does Microsoft have a flow chart template? ›

A flowchart or flow chart usually shows steps of the task, process, or workflow. Microsoft Word provides many predefined SmartArt templates that you can use to make a flowchart, including visually appealing basic flowchart templates with pictures.

Which Microsoft program is best for flowcharts? ›

Microsoft Visio is the best flowchart software for Windows creating process flow diagrams. It is used for the creation of professional diagrams. It has three products i.e. Visio Online, Visio Standard, and Visio Professional.

Is Visio still used? ›

Visio has been part of the Microsoft Office suite for some time now, but it isn't widely used outside of a corporate environment.

Is Visio hard to learn? ›

Learning Microsoft Visio is pretty easy to learn, overall. However, the ease of using it depends on whether you have grasped the controls. Now, grasping the controls can take quite some effort because there are lots of them. Therefore, to create appealing diagrams, you need a thorough knowledge of all the controls.

How do you code a flowchart? ›

How to Create Programming Flowchart - YouTube

How do you make a flowchart on the computer? ›

Create a flowchart
  1. Click the File tab. ...
  2. Click New, click Flowchart, and then under Available Templates, click Basic Flowchart.
  3. Click Create.
  4. For each step in the process that you are documenting, drag a flowchart shape onto your drawing. ...
  5. Connect the flowchart shapes in either of the following ways.

Is it easier to make a flowchart in Excel or Word? ›

Excel is an easier to learn program and does have the peculiar manner as Word. From the perspective of flowchart mapping, Excel outperforms Word on several levels.

How do I create a flowchart in Word? ›

From the Insert tab within the Ribbon, select a flowchart shape from the dropdown gallery. You can then click and drag it to the size you want on the page to place it. Continue to add shapes and lines to complete your flowchart.

How do I create a flow chart in Excel? ›

To access Excel's shape library, go to the insert tab and click “Shapes.” A gallery will appear with a variety of basic shapes including lines, arrows, and geometric shapes. Scroll down to find the flowchart section. Click the flowchart shape you want to add, then drag the shape to size on the Excel sheet.

How can I make a flowchart in Word? ›

Create a flow chart with pictures

On the Insert tab, in the Illustrations group, click SmartArt. In the Choose a SmartArt Graphic gallery, click Process, and then double-click Picture Accent Process. , select the picture you want to display in the chart, and then click Insert.

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