Create a flow chart

Draw and format chart shapes

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Draw and format flow chart shapes, align them properly, and use the right shape for the right purpose in your flow chart. Watch this video to learn more.

Add connectors

First, align the shapes, so the connectors are straight.

  1. Select one or more shapes.

  2. Click the DRAWING TOOLS FORMAT tab. To center the shapes vertically, click Align Objects > Align Center.

  3. To adjust the space between the shapes vertically, so it is consistent, click Align Objects > Distribute Vertically.

  4. Click the first shape in your chart, click the FORMAT tab, and in the Shapes gallery, click Arrow.

  5. Drag the crosshairs from the center black dot at the bottom of the first shape down to the top edge of the shape below it.

Want more?

Flowchart shapes explained

Microsoft Visio - flow chart software

For my flow chart, I’ll start with a slide that has a blank layout. I have added a title and turned on the gridlines.

To insert the first shape, I’ll click INSERT, Shapes.

Under Flowchart, I’ll find the Terminator shape and click it.

Then, I’ll point to where I want the top-left corner of the shape and drag the crosshairs to draw it.

I’ll keep the shape somewhat small because my process will require about 13 shapes.

The shape has a default color fill, based on the current theme.

To choose a different color scheme, I’ll click DESIGN, and in the Variants group, click More and point to Colors.

I like the blues and greens in Blue II. I’ll click it to apply it.

Next, I’ll click the DRAWING TOOLS FORMAT tab to apply a Shape Style, and I’ll Zoom In a little.

When I type in text, it’s white, so the Color Style is light text on a dark fill. I like that.

I also want to emphasize shape edges. So, I’ll click Shape Outline.

And I’ll choose a very dark blue for the outline color.

I’ll click Shape Outline again, point to Weight, and choose a thicker outline style, 1½ pts.

So, all the shapes will have this Outline Style. I’ll now right-click the shape and choose Set as Default Shape.

Next, let’s think about color fills. I’ll choose a unique color for each shape type.

To quickly see the fill colors, right-click the shape, and click Fill.

For the Terminator shape, which starts and ends the flow chart, I’ll choose a dark blue, a shade lighter than the outline.

Now, we’ll need this same shape at the end of the chart. So, I’ll press Ctrl+D to duplicate it and reproduce its exact size.

I’ll zoom back out.

Then I’ll drag the second shape over to about where the flow chart will end, using the gridlines to help estimate slide margins, and type its text.

We have the start of the chart.

For the next shape, I’ll click INSERT, Shapes and, this time, choose a Document shape.

I’ll draw the shape to an approximate size, referring to the grid to eyeball its position on the left.

Then I’ll drag the right side of the shape and look for the SmartGuide, which shows me when the shape edges are aligned on that side.

I’ll check the left side as well.

Let’s choose a fill for the Document shape. I’ll right-click, click Fill , and try a slightly different blue.

And I’ll type text.

I have added a few more shapes (a Preparation shape and a Process shape) and chosen their fill colors.

To get consistent shape sizes, I have used the Shape Height and Shape Width boxes on the FORMAT tab, adjusting each shape as needed.

I’ll need several copies of the Process shape for the main steps.

So, with the shape selected, I’ll press Ctrl+D multiple times to make the copies.

Then I’ll drag to arrange them, top to bottom, left to right.

As I position them, I’ll watch for the SmartGuides, which show me both horizontal and vertical alignments.

I’ll worry about perfect placement later.

But I can get the shapes very close to being aligned, just by using the SmartGuides.

The flow chart has all its shapes, text, and colors, now.

The last shape we added was a Decision shape, with 'Yes' and 'No' text boxes.

Up next, we’ll align flow chart shapes and add connectors.

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