Create, save, and share custom stencils

You can create a new stencil to hold shapes that you use often and want to find quickly. After you have created your new stencil, you can then save it to reuse later or share it with other people.

Create a new custom stencil

  1. In the Shapes window, click More Shapes, and then click New Stencil.

  2. In the Shapes window, right-click the title bar of the new stencil, and then click Save As.

  3. Type a name for your stencil, and then click Save.
    By default, custom stencils are saved in your My Shapes folder.

    To open your new custom stencil in another drawing, in the Shapes window, click More Shapes, point to My Shapes, and click the stencil name.

Add shapes to a custom stencil

If the stencil title bar has the icon A red asterisk indicates that a stencil is editable. (asterisk), you can edit the stencil by adding, deleting, and modifying shapes.

  1. Open the custom stencil that you want to add shapes to.

  2. If the stencil title bar does not show the icon A red asterisk indicates that a stencil is editable. (asterisk), right-click the stencil title bar and click Edit Stencil.

  3. Drag a shape from another stencil or from the drawing page onto the custom stencil. A new master shape will be added to the stencil.

  4. To edit the name of the master shape, right-click the shape and then click Rename Master.

  5. Type a name for the master shape and press ENTER.

Save a custom stencil

  • To save changes to a stencil, right-click the stencil title bar, and then click Save.

  • To save a copy of a stencil with a new name, right-click the stencil title bar, click Save As, type a name for the new stencil, and then click Save.
    By default, custom stencils are saved in your My Shapes folder.

 Create a new stencil based on an existing one

You can’t edit any of the built-in stencils that come with Visio, but you can copy the stencils and modify your copy.

  1. Open the stencil that you want to make a copy of.

  2. Right-click the title bar of the stencil, and then click Save As.

  3. Type a name for your new custom stencil, and then click Save. The new custom stencil appears in the Shapes window.

  4. Make any changes that you want to the stencil.

  5. To save your changes, right-click the stencil title bar, and then click Save.

Share a custom stencil

Custom stencils are saved as files with the extension .vssx in your My Shapes folder. People you give a stencil file to can open the stencil in their own Visio diagrams, as long as they have a compatible version of Visio for the stencil format. It’s a good idea for them to save the file in their own My Shapes folder. That way they can open the new stencil easily in the Shapes window by clicking More Shapes, pointing to My Shapes, and clicking the stencil name.

Create a new stencil

  1. In the Shapes window, click More Shapes, and then select New Stencil.

  2. In the Shapes window, right-click the new stencil and select Save As.

  3. Type a name for your stencil, and then click Save.
    By default, custom stencils are saved in your My Shapes folder.

    Notes: 

    • To learn about how to add shapes to your custom stencil, see Add shapes to a custom stencil.

    • To open your new custom stencil in another drawing, in the Shapes window, click More Shapes, select Open Stencil, select the stencil that you want, and then click Open.

    • To edit your new stencil, right-click the stencil title and click Edit Stencil. The icon in the stencil title bar changes to A red asterisk indicates that a stencil is editable. (indicating that the stencil is editable).

    • To share your stencil with someone, see Share a custom stencil.

Create a new stencil based on an existing one

  1. Open the stencil that you want to make a copy of.
    To learn about how to open stencils, see Use the Shapes window to organize and find shapes.

  2. Right-click the stencil and select Save As.

  3. Type a name for your new custom stencil, and then click Save. The new custom stencil appears in the Shapes window.

  4. Make any changes that you want to the stencil.
    To learn about how to add shapes to your custom stencil, see Add shapes to a custom stencil.

  5. To save your changes, right-click the stencil title bar, and then click Save.

    Notes: 

    • To learn about how to add shapes to your custom stencil, see Add shapes to a custom stencil.

    • To open your new custom stencil in another drawing, in the Shapes window, click More Shapes, select Open Stencil, select the stencil that you want, and then click Open.

    • To edit your new stencil, right-click the stencil title and click Edit Stencil. The icon in the stencil title bar changes to A red asterisk indicates that a stencil is editable. (indicating that the stencil is editable).

    • To share your stencil with someone, see Share a custom stencil.

Add shapes to a custom stencil

  1. Open the custom stencil that you want to add shapes to.

  2. Drag a shape from another stencil or from the drawing page onto the custom stencil. A new master shape will be added to the stencil.

  3. To edit the name of the master shape, right-click the shape and select Rename Master.

  4. Type a name for the master shape and press ENTER.

    Notes: 

    • To add shapes to a custom stencil, the stencil must be editable. A stencil is editable if the icon in the stencil title bar is A red asterisk indicates that a stencil is editable. . To edit a custom stencil, right-click the stencil title bar and click Edit Stencil.

    • To learn about how to create new shapes, see Create a shape.

Save a custom stencil

  • To save changes to a stencil, right-click the stencil title bar, and then click Save.

  • To save a copy of a stencil with a new name, right-click the stencil title bar, click Save As, type a name for the new stencil, and then click Save.
    By default, custom stencils are saved in your My Shapes folder.

    Notes: 

    • To open your new custom stencil in another drawing, in the Shapes window, click More Shapes, select Open Stencil, select the stencil that you want, and then click Open.

    • To edit your new stencil, right-click the stencil title and click Edit Stencil. The icon in the stencil title bar changes to A red asterisk indicates that a stencil is editable. (indicating that the stencil is editable).

    • To share your stencil with someone, see Share a custom stencil.

Share a custom stencil

You can share a custom stencil with other people who have Visio in the same way that you share other Microsoft Office files. For example, you can save a custom stencil file (.vss) to a removable media (USB device or DVD as examples) and distribute it, or you can send the stencil as an attachment to an email.

More info

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For more information about how to open and use stencils, see Use the Shapes window to organize and find shapes.

Important: 

  • You cannot directly edit any of the built-in stencils that come with Visio. To create a new custom stencil based upon a built-in stencil, see Create a new stencil based on an existing one.

  • The Visio shapes on stencils supplied by Microsoft Corporation are copyrighted. You may copy and reorganize them for your own use, modify them for your own use, and distribute drawings that contain them. You may not sell or distribute original or modified Visio shapes.

Add a shape from the drawing page to a stencil

  1. Open a new stencil, your Favorites stencil, or another custom stencil that you previously created:

    • To open a new stencil, on the File menu, point to Shapes, and then click New Stencil.

    • To open a custom stencil, on the File menu, point to Shapes, point to My Shapes, and then click the name of the stencil.

  2. If the stencil is not editable, right-click the stencil title bar, and then click Edit Stencil.

    The icon in the stencil title bar changes from Read-only stencil image (indicating that the stencil is read-only) to Editable stencil image (indicating that the stencil is editable).

  3. On the drawing page, select the shape that you want to add to the stencil.

  4. Do one of the following:

    • To move the shape from the drawing to the stencil, drag the shape from the drawing page to the stencil.

    • To copy the shape, press the CTRL key while you drag the shape to the stencil.

      The shape is now on the stencil. The shape appears as an icon, labeled "Master.x," where x is a number.

  5. To rename the shape, right-click the shape icon, point to Edit Master, and then click Master Properties. Type a name in the Name box.

  6. To save your changes, right-click the stencil title bar, and then click Save.

Copy a shape from one stencil to another

  1. Open the stencil that contains the shape you want to add to another stencil:

    • On the File menu, point to Shapes, and then point to My Shapes or another folder that contains the stencil.

  2. In the open stencil that contains the shape you want to copy, right-click the shape, point to Add To My Shapes, and then click Favorites, Add To New Stencil, or Add To Existing Stencil.

  3. To open the stencil that contains the copied shape, on the File menu, point to Shapes, and then point to My Shapes or another folder that contains the stencil.

    Tip: If both stencils are editable, you can copy and paste the shape from one stencil to the other instead of using the Add to My Shapes command.

    Notes: 

    • Shapes in Visio stencils are often referred to as master shapes. When you drag a master shape onto a drawing page, you create a copy (or “instance”) of the master. The master itself remains on the stencil so that you can use it repeatedly to create new copies of the master on drawing pages.

    • Visio master shapes supplied by Microsoft Corporation are copyrighted. You may copy and reorganize them for your own use, modify them for your own use, and distribute drawings that contain them. You may not sell or distribute original or modified Visio master shapes.

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