How To Create a Flowchart in Word

Ever since the end of Microsoft Visio, flowcharts and diagrams have had to be cobbled together with Word, Excel, PowerPoint or something completely different. As most workplaces use Microsoft Office, it is easiest to use this. That’s what this tutorial is all about, creating a professional flowchart in Word. It isn’t as difficult as you might think.

I use Word 2016 but the same process will work for Word 2010 or the Office 365 version. The menus may have slightly different names and positions but the rest should be fine.

A flowchart is an illustration of a sequence of events that deliver a predicted outcome. They are often used in business to illustrate all manner of things from steps to complete a task to defining how a call is processed within a call center. They are also being increasingly used as infographics for web publication and marketing. This is where I use most of the ones I produce.

If you work in a place that likes its flowcharts, mastering them is a useful skill. Hopefully, this tutorial will go a long ways to achieving that.

Creating flowcharts in Word

You can create flowcharts in a couple of ways. You can draw boxes and add arrows manually, you can use SmartArt or you could add custom images. They all work and they all create credible flowcharts.

As SmartArt produces the best looking charts, I will use that.

To create a flowchart in Word:

  1. Open a new blank Word document.
  2. Select the Insert tab and SmartArt.
  3. Select Process from the side menu and then select a chart type in the center. Your selected chart type should now be embedded on your page.
  4. Select [Text] and type in a description for each step in your chart. You can also select the chart and use the popup box that appears to change the text.

Now you have a basic flowchart you can begin customizing it to your needs. You can select shapes in the Format box in the Word ribbon to change the appearance. You can also select Change Colors to do just that.

Add steps to your flowchart

The default chart that appears has only a few boxes which is only enough for the most simple flowchart. You will likely need to add more.

  1. Select the chart in Word at a place where you would like to add a step.
  2. Highlight the step and select Add Shape in the top right of the ribbon. The step should be added directly after the selected step.
  3. Drag and drop the step to where you need it to sit in your flowchart.

You can use this process to add as many steps as you like to your chart. Just select the preceding step to ensure it is added in the position you require. Otherwise select Undo or Ctrl + Z to go back and select the correct step.

Add effects and flourishes to your flowchart

If you’re trying to create an attractive flowchart, you can customize the default options to better suit your needs.

  1. Right click a box in your flowchart and select Format Shape.
  2. Select a Fill type, Line thickness or change the tab for shapes, 3D effects, position and other options.
  3. Select Text Options to change the format of the text contained within the box.

There are dozens of configurations you can change within that menu so I won’t go through them all here. Suffice to say, you will find the full range of colors, shading and anything else you’re likely to need from within that one menu.

Customize lines in your flowchart

There is no point making your flowchart boxes and text look amazing if the lines connecting them are still in 2D. Now might be a good time to customize those too. The process is much the same as formatting boxes.

  1. Double click a line to select it.
  2. Right click that line and select Format Shape.
  3. Select a Fill type, Line thickness or use a different tab for shapes, 3D effects and other options.

If you have text alongside your lines, you can use the same process to modify the text as you did with your boxes.

Add custom images or boxes to your flowchart

If you don’t like any of the shapes or SmartArt contained within Word, you can add your own. It takes a little work to insert and resize them but it can personalize or brand your flowchart just how you need it.

  1. Select a box in your flowchart.
  2. Right click and select Change Shape.
  3. Select a shape from the list and resize as required.

To use your own images in a flowchart:

  1. Select a box in your flowchart.
  2. Select the insert Tab in the ribbon.
  3. Select Pictures and insert an image.
  4. Drag and drop to resize in place of the box.

It is very straightforward to create a flowchart in Word and make it look professional. Hopefully with this tutorial you will be creating them in no time!

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