Basic tasks in Visio

Visio gets you started making flow charts, floor plans, timelines, network diagrams, and many other kinds of drawings. Each type has templates to get you going quickly, each with its own set of shapes that are ready to use. Just drag the shapes onto the drawing page and connect them together to make professional-looking diagrams.

When you finish your drawing, you can save it in many different formats, so you can use it to illustrate reports, as a reference file in PDF, or as an updatable web page.

For more background about how Visio works, see A beginner's guide to Visio and Getting started with Visio.

Create a new diagram or drawing

Right away, when you start Visio, you’ll see templates you can use to start creating your diagram or drawing.

To create a new diagram or drawing
  1. Start Visio.

  2. Double-click a template to start using it and start adding shapes to it.

    You can also browse for more templates by clicking Categories, and you can enter terms to search for templates.

    Template gallery

Add a shape

Along the side of the drawing page is a panel, or window, named Shapes. The Shapes window contains one or more stencils, or sets of shapes, commonly used in the type of drawing you’re creating.

To add a shape to your diagram or drawing
  1. In the Shapes window, click and hold the shape that you want.

  2. Drag the shape onto the diagram page.

    Drag a shape to add

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

Connect shapes

In some diagrams, like flowcharts, the shapes need to be connected so that following the path from shape to shape is easy. The quickest way to connect shapes is with the AutoConnect tool.

AutoConnect is available by default when your drawing is based on a template for a type that typically requires connections, like a flowchart. If do not see the AutoConnect arrows Button image when you hover the mouse pointer over a shape, AutoConnect is not active. To activate AutoConnect, click Connector in the Tools area on the Home tab.

To connect shapes by using AutoConnect
  1. Hover the mouse pointer over one of the shapes that you want to connect.

  2. When the AutoConnect arrows appear, drag one of them to the center of the other shape.

    A connector appears between the two shapes. Also, as you add shapes, use the AutoConnect arrows to instantly connect them.

  3. Drag the new shape onto your drawing and hold it on top of the shape you want to connect it to, until the AutoConnect arrows appear.

    Drop shape on autoconnect arrow

  4. Drop the new shape on the AutoConnect arrow on the side where you want the shapes to connect.

    The new shape appears on the drawing, connected to the other one.

For more information about using AutoConnect, see Connect shapes by using AutoConnect or the Connector tool.

Add text to shapes or to the page

Visio makes it easy to add text to both the shapes in your drawing and to the page itself.

To add text to a shape
  1. Select a shape.

  2. Type your text. When you start typing, Visio switches the selected shape to text editing mode.

    Add text to a shape

    To add another line of text, press Enter.

  3. Click an empty area of the page, or press Esc when you’re finished.

To add text to the page
  1. Click Home and then click the Text tool Text .

  2. Click an empty area of the page.

    A text box appears.

  3. Type the text that you want to add to the page.

    Add text to a page

  4. Click Home and then click Pointer Tool to stop using the Text tool.

The text box now has the characteristics of other shapes. You can select it and type to change the text, you can drag it to another part of the page, and you can format the text by using the Font and Paragraph groups on the Home tab.

For more details about working with text, see Add, edit, move, or rotate text on shapes and Add text to a page.

Polish your diagram design

Give your diagram a professional look by adding a background, a decorative title and border, colors, and effects.

To give your drawing a background
  1. Click Design and then click Backgrounds.

  2. Click a background.

    Your diagram gets a new background page (named VBackground-1 by default), which you can see in the page tabs along the bottom of the diagramming area.

    Background tab in Visio

To apply a border or title
  1. Click Design > Borders & Titles and click the title style that you want.

  2. Click a title style.

    The title and border appear on the background page.

  3. At the bottom of the diagramming area, click the VBackground-1 tab.

  4. Click the title text.

    The entire border is selected, but when you start typing it changes the title text.

  5. Type your title.

  6. To edit other text in the border, first select the entire border, and then click the text you want to change and start typing.

Apply a unified color scheme and other formatting effects

After you have the basic elements in place, you can change the overall look and colors quickly by selecting a theme.

To apply a theme to your diagram or drawing
  1. On the Design tab, hover the mouse pointer over the various themes.

    Visio temporarily applies each theme as you hover the mouse pointer over them.

    Theme gallery in Visio

  2. To see other available themes, click More The More button .

  3. Click the theme that you want to apply to the diagram.

Save a diagram

If the diagram has been saved before, simply click Save in the Quick Access Toolbar.

Quick Access Toolbar save

If you want to save the diagram in a different place or with a different name, use Save As.

To save your diagram in a different location
  1. Click File and then click Save As.

  2. Under Save As, click where you want to save the diagram.

    For example, on your computer, online, or on OneDrive. Then click the folder that you want to save it in, or click Browse to find the folder that you want.

  3. If you want, in the Save As dialog box, give the diagram a different name in the File name box.

  4. Click Save.

To save as an image file, PDF, or other format
  1. Click File and then click Save As.

  2. Under Save As, click where you want to save the diagram.

  3. In the Save As dialog box, open the Save as type drop-down list.

  4. Click the format you want. Some example formats include:

    • Standard image file    including JPG, PNG, and BMP formats.

    • Web page    in HTM format. Image files and other resource files are saved in a subfolder of the location where you save the HTM file.

    • PDF or XPS file   

    • AutoCAD drawing     in DWG or DXF format.

Print your diagram or drawing

Printing your diagram or drawing in Visio is as easy as in other Office programs.

To print your diagram or drawing
  1. Click the File tab.

  2. In the side bar, click Print.

  3. Select the printer and other settings, and then click Print.

Beyond the basics

After working with these basic tasks, take some next steps by exploring the following topics:

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