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Design a diagram

Manage shapes by adding layers

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Add layers to your Visio drawing to manage objects and stay organized.

See which layers a shape is assigned to

  1. Select a shape.

  2. Select Home > Layers > Assign to Layer.

    The assigned layers are selected in the list.

Show or hide a layer

  1. Select Home > Layers > Layer Properties.

  2. Do one of the following.

    • To show a layer, select its Visible check box.

    • To hide a layer, clear its Visible check box.

      Note: Shapes are visible if any of the layers they’re assigned to are visible.

Assign shapes to layers

In some templates, certain shapes are assigned automatically to predefined layers.

  1. Select a shape.

  2. Select Home > Layers >Assign to Layer.

  3. Select the layers you want to assign the shape to, and select OK.

    Tip: Shapes can be assigned to more than one layer. Organize them in both broad and specific layers, depending on your needs.

Make a layer active

Shapes can be assigned to more than one layer. Organize them in both broad and specific layers, depending on your needs.

  • Select Home > Layers > Layer Properties.

  • For the layer you want to make active, select its Active check box.

Create a layer

  1. Select Home > Layers > Layer Properties.

  2. Select New.

  3. Type a name for the layer, and select OK.

Delete a layer

  1. If shapes are assigned to the layer, assign them to a different layer.

  2. Select Home > Layers > Layer Properties.

  3. Select the layer, and select Remove.

  4. Select Yes.

Want more?

Add a layer

Use layers to set properties for multiple shapes

As drawings get complex, I use logical groups of objects, stored on layers, to help me organize related shapes.

In templates, certain kinds of shapes are automatically assigned to layers. For example, I created this office plan using a template. When I added the people, they were assigned to a layer called Humans.

A shape can be on more than one layer. To see which layers a shape is assigned to, I select it, go to Home, select Layers, and select Assign to Layer. The assigned layers are selected in the list.

When I want to show or hide a layer, I select Layers and select Layer Properties.

Shapes are visible on the diagram if any of the layers they’re assigned to are visible.

For example, all furniture is assigned to the Furniture layer. I’ll clear the Visible checkbox to make that layer invisible. The furniture is still there, because it’s also on layers that are still visible.

Some of this furniture is assigned to Movable furnishings. When I make that layer invisible, that furniture disappears.

Other pieces of furniture are assigned to Non-Movable furnishings—I’ll make that layer invisible, too.

Depending on which of these layers I make visible, I can work with some of the furniture, or all of it at once. I’ll make the Furniture layer visible this time, because I want to see all of the furniture.

I’ll need to remove the potted plant and the trash can from this drawing pretty often. I’ll create an Accessories layer for them, so I can work with them as a group. I select Layers, select Layer Properties, and select New. Then, I give the new layer a name.

Now I’ll move the plant and the trash can to the new layer. I select the plant, select Assign to Layer, remove it from the layers it’s on now, and then add it to the Accessories layer.

Next, I’ll move the trash can to the Accessories layer.

I’m going to add one more accessory to this drawing. Before I do that, I select Layers, select Layer Properties, and select the Active checkbox for the Accessories layer to make it active.

A recycle bin is standard issue in each office. I don’t see a shape that will work, so I’ll use a rectangle.

Rectangles don’t have a predefined layer assignment in this template, so the recycle bin was added to the active layer—Accessories.

Now I can show or hide the trash can, the recycle bin, and the plant all at once by making the Accessories layer visible or invisible. I can also remove them from the office layout for printing.

I’m not using the Fixtures layer in this drawing, so I’ll delete it.

With shapes organized on layers, working with discrete sets of shapes—like computers, electrical fixtures, furniture, and people—becomes much easier.

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