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Microsoft Word provides built-in tools for creating and arranging different types of flowcharts. You can create your own flowchart by using different shapes and SmartArt. Here’s how to do it.

Making a Flowchart in Word

When working with shapes in any Office application, it’s always useful to use gridlines to make sure everything is sized and placed correctly. To make the gridlines appears, head over to the “View” tab and tick the “Gridlines” checkbox.

Your gridlines will now appear on your Word document.

Next, switch to the “Insert” tab and then click the “Shapes” button (we’ll go through SmartArt later).

A drop-down menu displays a large library of shapes you can choose from. We’ll be focusing on two things here—the connectors in the “Lines” group near the top and the shapes in the “Flowchart” group near the bottom.

Before we continue, it’s important to understand the intended purpose of the shapes. You may want to consider reading this comprehensive list that details the meaning of flowchart shapes, but here’s a quick overview of the basics.

  • Rectangle: Used for process steps.
  • Diamond: Used to show decision points.
  • Oval: Used as the terminator shape, indicating the start and end points of a process.

Hovering over any of the shapes in the drop-down menu displays a text bubble showing the shape’s purpose.

Let’s go ahead and insert our first shape. Back at the shapes menu, select the shape you’d like to use in the flow chart. Since this is our first shape being used in the flowchart, we’ll use the oval shape.

Once you select the shape, you’ll notice your cursor turns into a crosshair. To draw the shape, click and drag.

After drawing the shape, you’ll notice a new “Format” tab appears with commands that let you format your shape, change the outline and fill color, and more.

To insert text inside the shape, select the shape and then start typing.

Let’s insert another shape and then connect the two shapes. We’ll add a rectangle to indicate another part of the process. Repeat the above steps to insert the shape.

To connect the two shapes, head back to the shape menu and select the connector you want to use. We’ll use a simple line arrow for this example.

Once you select the arrow, click the center handle on the first shape and then, while still holding down your mouse button, drag to the center handle on the next shape.

As with shapes, you can also format the arrow with different line widths, colors, and so on.

If you plan to use the same line format throughout the entire flowchart, right-click the inserted line after you’ve formatted it and select “Set as Default Line.” You can do this with shapes, too.

Creating a Flowchart with SmartArt

In addition to using shapes to create your flowchart, you also have some pretty handy options with SmartArt. Head over to the “Insert” tab and then click the “SmartArt” button.

In the Choose a SmartArt Graphic window, select the “Process” category on the left, chose a type of process (we’re using the “Picture Accent Process” option here), and then click “OK.”

This SmartArt graphic is designed explicitly to detail a process. It groups shapes for adding photos (1) and text (2).

Enter the relevant information. If you don’t need a particular object, you can get rid of it by selecting it and pressing the delete key. On the other hand, if you can copy the objects if you need to add additional information.

Marshall Gunnell
Marshall Gunnell is a writer with experience in the data storage industry. He worked at Synology, and most recently as CMO and technical staff writer at StorageReview. He's currently an API/Software Technical Writer at LINE Corporation in Tokyo, Japan, runs ITEnterpriser, a data-storage and cybersecurity-focused online media, and plays with development, with his RAID calculator being his first public project.
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