How to Make a Flowchart: Beginner’s Guide (& Free Templates)

Mahnoor Sheikh

Written by:
Mahnoor Sheikh

Jul 22, 2021

Knowing how to make a flowchart is a valuable skill, regardless of your field or industry. If you’re intimidated by the thought of creating a flowchart from scratch, we’re here to help you out.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the basic steps of designing a flowchart that helps you achieve your goals in the best possible way.

If you want to skip the tutorial and start creating your own flowchart, use our drag-and-drop flowchart maker to get started right away.

 

How to Make a Flowchart in 7 Simple Steps

What is a Flowchart?

Your Guide to Flowchart Symbols

Step #1: Know the purpose of your flowchart.

Step #2: Start with a template.

Step #3: Add shapes and symbols.

Step #4: Connect your shapes with lines and arrows.

Step #5: Split paths or add decisions.

Step #6: Customize your flowchart’s appearance.

Step #7: Download or share your flowchart.

Bonus: Make your flowchart interactive.

Flowchart Best Practices

10 Flowchart Templates to Help You Get Started

 

What is a Flowchart?

A flowchart is a graphical representation of a process. It’s a diagram that illustrates the workflow required to complete a task or a set of tasks with the help of symbols, lines and shapes.

Below are two examples of a flowchart:

how to make a good infographic fast - flowchart templates visme
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Flowcharts are used to study, improve and communicate processes in various fields. They are excellent tools for breaking down information and making it easy to understand and follow.

From sales, marketing, project management and HR to computer programming, administrative and service processes — flowcharts can help explain processes across all industries.

Here are some of the major types of flowcharts that businesses use:

  • Process Flow Diagrams: A process flow diagram illustrates the general flow of a process and the relationships between the major components.
  • Data Flow Diagrams: A data flow diagram visualizes how data is processed in an information system from input to output.
  • Workflow Diagrams: Workflow diagrams illustrate the steps involved to complete a task or execute a process in an efficient way.
  • Swimlane Flowcharts: A swimlane flowchart visualizes multiple flows of information or categories to help clarify roles and responsibilities.
  • Yes/No Flowcharts: Also known as dichotomous keys, yes/no flowcharts make it easy to visualize different paths based on yes/no decisions.

Now that you’re aware of the different types of flowcharts, it’s time to learn about the various shapes and symbols that are commonly used in flowcharts.

 

Your Guide to Flowchart Symbols

Before you start creating your flowchart, you need to familiarize yourself with the different flowchart symbols and shapes.

Knowing what each shape means can help you create flowcharts that are universally understandable and prevent any confusion in interpretation.

Some of the most common flowchart shapes are:

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  • Oval: An oval shape is also called a terminator. It symbolizes the start or end of a process, which is why it is often used at the two end points of a flowchart.
  • Arrow: An arrow shows the direction of the process flow. For example, if your information is flowing from the left to right, you can use an arrow to depict it. You can also use two arrows pointing in opposite directions if the information is flowing in both directions.
  • Rectangle: A rectangle shape usually depicts a task, operation or process. This is what you’ll use for most of your flowchart is depicting a process with various tasks.
  • Parallelogram: This shape represents input or output of data or information in a flowchart. Parallelograms are mostly used in data flow diagrams.
  • Diamond: A diamond shape represents a decision in a flowchart, and is mostly used in yes/no flowcharts or dichotomous keys.

 

How to Make a Flowchart in 7 Simple Steps

The best flowcharts are simple and clear, and effectively communicate each step of the process.

By following some basic structure, diagramming and design concepts, you can create visually appealing and easy-to-understand flowcharts.

Below are 7 simple steps to creating a flowchart that ticks all the boxes.

 

Step #1: Know the purpose of your flowchart.

Before knowing how to draw a flowchart, it is mandatory to find out why you’re creating one in the first place.

Your flowchart can have various goals, such as:

  • Making a complex process easier to understand
  • Improving an existing business process by identifying bottlenecks
  • Explaining or communicating a process to someone else
  • Standardizing a process for consistency and efficiency

When you know the purpose of your flowchart, it’s easier to choose the type of flowchart to create, pick the most relevant template, and know whether to focus more on design or function when making one.

 

Step #2: Start with a template.

Creating a flowchart from scratch can be intimidating. Luckily, you don’t have to.

There are plenty of flowchart templates available online that you can customize and adapt for your own use. Try to select a template that’s created specifically for your field or industry so it takes you less time and effort to finalize.

If you’re looking for professionally designed flowchart templates, browse through Visme’s flowchart template library with dozens of options for various fields. When you find something you like, hover on it and click on Edit to start customizing it.

tools to create infographics - flowcharts visme
Create your own flowchart in minutes!Browse Templates

You can also choose to start with a blank canvas and use pre-made flowchart content blocks to put your diagram together.

You can also create a basic flowchart using software like Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. This can be difficult for a beginner but might be a good option if you’re already confident about your diagramming skills and aren’t interested in using pre-made templates.

 

Step #3: Add shapes and symbols.

Shapes and symbols play a vital role in any flowchart. They define the components of your flowchart, and each symbol represents something unique.

Read our brief guide to flowchart symbols above to familiarize yourself with the most common shapes and symbols before continuing with this step.

After you’ve identified the purpose of your flowchart, it’s time to draw your diagram. The first thing you need to do here is add the symbols that represent all the components in your flowchart.

Pro-tip: Sketch out your flowchart on a piece of paper before proceeding to draw it on your computer. This will prevent you from pressing “undo” repeatedly, and help you create your flowchart faster and more efficiently.

If you’re making your flowchart in Visme, you can add flowchart symbols by clicking on the Data tab on your left, and then selecting Diagrams.

You can also add blocks of pre-made flows with 3-4 shapes by navigating over to the Basics tab and selecting Diagrams from there.

Once you’ve added some basic shapes, you can now connect them with lines and arrows. This leads us to the next step.

 

Step #4: Connect your shapes with lines and arrows.

Once you’ve added all the different shapes you need, it’s time to connect each one with lines and arrows.

We recommend using arrows if you want to show a specific direction of your flow of information. For example, the flowchart example below visualizes how information is flowing in different directions with the help of arrows.

Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

In Visme, there are various line and arrow designs to choose from if you want to add them manually. All of the lines and arrows are fully customizable, drag-and-drop, and easy to rearrange and move around.

Another way to quickly create your flowchart in Visme is to integrate the two steps of adding shapes and connecting them.

You can simply add one shape, click on it, select any of the small arrows that appear on the sides of the shape, and click on a pre-made flow to extend your diagram.

If you want to change the new shape that appears, just click on it, tap on Edit at the top, and change the shape or symbol to one that suits your needs.

Keep doing this until your flowchart is ready!

 

Step #5: Split paths or add decisions.

In some cases, you may want to split paths and add decisions to your flowchart, such as adding two different paths based on Yes/No decisions.

This is useful for visualizing complex processes that require people to take different actions based on varying inputs and outputs.

For example, you may want your employees to shut down a system in case of a power outage. At the same time, you’d want them to keep the system turned on if there’s only minor electricity fluctuation.

In Visme, adding decisions and split paths is easy.

When you click on a shape to extend it, you can choose one of the pre-made split path blocks to extend your flowchart in two different directions.

If you want, you can add text next to each path, such as “Yes” or “No”. Just drag and drop the Text block from the Data → Diagrams tab in the left-hand panel, and edit it.

 

Step #6: Customize your flowchart’s appearance.

The next step is to customize your flowchart’s appearance. Your flowchart’s design will depend on how you plan to use your diagram, where you’ll use it and who the audience is.

There are several ways to customize your flowchart’s appearance in Visme.

 

Customize your shapes and lines.

First, you may want to change the size, color, border, roundness and other characteristics of your shapes, symbols and lines.

You can do all of this in Visme by selecting the element in question, and clicking on Edit at the top to reveal the customization toolbar.

You can also change the font, font size, font color and font style of any text in your flowchart, such as the text inside shapes or next to the lines.

Resizing your shapes and lines is easy to do as well. Simply click on a shape and drag it using the controls on each side and corner.

 

Add relevant icons.

Flowcharts don’t always need to be all text and shapes and no graphics. Sprinkle some visual fun into your flowchart by adding icons where possible.

For example, instead of using text that says “Yes” or “No”, you can add icons of green check marks and red X/cross marks.

You can also add icons in place of the actual shapes and symbols to visualize components. This is especially useful in system diagram flowcharts, where you can add icons of computers, cloud, firewalls, switches, routers and more.

Visme comes built-in with thousands of free vector icons — all fully customizable.

Just click on the Graphics tab, select Icons and sift through the categories manually, or type in your keyword at the top to find relevant options.

You can change the colors of the icons, resize them, replace them with one click and even upload your own icons to enhance your flowchart’s design.

 

Add a header.

Make your flowchart design stand out by adding an eye-catching header at the top. Headers are not only useful for making your flowchart look good, they’re great tools for communicating the title and purpose of your flowchart.

Create an effective flowchart header by using large and bold text, and even add a graphic like an image or illustration to emphasize on your topic.

In Visme, you can add a header to your flowchart by clicking on the Basics tab and selecting Header & Text. Browse through the options and drag what you like onto your flowchart.

You can also choose from pre-designed font pairs or customize the header that came with your Visme flowchart template.

If you want to add an image to your header, select the Photos tab, and browse through millions of free stock photos. You can also upload your own images from your computer.

Another way to decorate your flowchart header in Visme is to find a relevant illustration or icon in the Graphics tab and resizing it so it’s big enough to fit in the header. Play around with the design and take advantage of visuals to communicate your flowchart topic more effectively.

 

Change the background.

Add a background to your flowchart to make it stand out. You can add a solid color background, or take things up a notch and add an image.

Whatever background you choose to go with, make sure it doesn’t distract readers from the actual flowchart. Your shapes, symbols and lines should be clearly visible at all times.

One way to do that is to add a color overlay to your background image to make the objects and text on top stand out in contrast. You can easily add color overlays to any images in Visme.

 

Step #7: Download or share your flowchart.

Once your flowchart is ready, it’s time to download it or share it with your target audience.

In Visme, there are various formats you can download your flowchart in, including PNG, JPG, PDF and HTML5. Get it printed, share it via email, or add your flowchart to other projects like reports and presentations.

You can also share your flowchart online by publishing it to the web and sharing the URL. Another way to share your flowchart is to generate an embed code, and embedding your diagram in any web page or project.

 

Bonus: Make your flowchart interactive.

If you’re planning on sharing your flowchart online in the form of a web page, GIF or video, or if you’re looking to embed it somewhere on a website, you can add interactivity to it.

For example, you can make the shapes and lines animated so they appear one after the other, which helps to engage readers and effectively communicate the process with the help of motion and direction.

Another way to make your flowchart interactive in Visme is by adding links, pop-up effects and hover effects — yes, it’s possible!

For example, you may want to link a component in your flowchart to a video on your website so when readers click on it, they’re taken to that video for further explanation.

 

Flowchart Best Practices

Making a flowchart is an art, and if you know the basic rules you will do wonders. Below are some best practices to help you make any flowchart more effective and efficient.

  • Establish the flow direction. The format of your flowchart must be from left to right or top to bottom. This sort of formatting will help the user of your flowchart understand the process more easily.
  • Run your return lines under your flowchart. Make sure that the return lines of your flowchart do not overlap because this can create complications for the users of your flowchart.
  • Keep consistent spacing between symbols. A neat and clean flowchart will help you achieve your goals faster. So, make your flowchart clearer and easier to understand by adding consistent spacing between the symbols.
  • Use the correct symbol for each step. Every symbol has a specific role in your flowchart, so make sure you use the right one to visualize each step to avoid any potential confusion or miscommunication.
  • Use all caps. Using all caps in your flowchart text makes it look more professional and easier to read. It also highlights each step and gives it equal importance.

 

10 Flowchart Templates to Help You Get Started

Looking for some flowchart templates to give you a head start?

In this section, we’ve put together a bunch of flowchart templates that are professionally designed and ready-to-use.

You can use these flowcharts to accelerate your flowchart creation process. This is especially useful if you’re a beginner and you don’t want to deal with making a flowchart from scratch.

Click on the button below the template you like to start using it right away.

 

Template #1: Server Network Diagram

Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Make an eye-catching server flowchart for your business with this basic network diagram template. You can also use it for other specific purposes, such as for visualizing a firewall system or an office network.

This ready-to-go flowchart template can be customized in Visme’s drag-and-drop editor. Change shapes, lines, text, colors, background and more.

 

Template #2: Customer Service Flowchart

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This yes/no flowchart is a great way to train your customer service employees, such as sales reps, on how to respond to various customer queries and problems.

You can modify this ready-made flowchart with your own text, rearrange the shapes, and customize the design with your own brand colors and fonts.

 

Template #3: Project Team Flowchart

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This project team flowchart is essentially an organizational chart that you can use to visualize your team structure.

You can customize this flowchart for any business, department or team, and it’s very helpful for understanding roles, responsibilities and who to report to. Replace the existing text, colors, shapes and more in the template with your own and you’re good to go.

 

Template #4: Hiring Process Flowchart

remote team - Flowchart-template
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This hiring process flowchart is an asset for your human resources team and makes it easier to understand the entire recruiting process.

Feel free to customize this template according to your unique needs. For example, you may want to use it to visualize a production process or another HR process.

 

Template #5: Website Rebranding Flowchart

Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

This website rebranding flowchart can help you make decisions faster by mapping out the various factors that go into making a particular decision.

You can customize this template for any other use, such as for helping sales reps make better decisions, and even change the design so it’s more in line with your company’s branding.

 

Template #6: Should I Check Email Flowchart

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This fun flowchart template is attractive and functional. You can use it to visualize decision-making for your business or personal use.

Modify this template for your own use by editing the colors, text, shapes, background and more. Download it in high-quality image or PDF format to use on its own or add to other projects, or share online using a link or embed code.

 

Template #7: Technology Flowchart

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Use this flowchart template to help your employees or customers solve technology problems, such as a slow server or an unresponsive application.

This is a great flowchart idea to place on your website's help page, and then if it doesn't solve the problem, users can get in touch for additional support.

The user-friendly editing tools in Visme will allow you to create your own flowchart design that aligns with your brand. You can shorten or extend it to fit your diagramming needs.

 

Template #8: Circuit Block Diagram

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Explain the basics of circuits better with this block diagram template. You can also use it as a data flow diagram for any other purpose.

The best thing about this template is you can make changes in the text, colors and design easily. Download it once you’re done and add it to other projects like reports.

 

Template #9: Social Media Flowchart

How to Make a Flowchart with Visme setting up social media channels
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This how-to flowchart can help you explain the process of completing a task quickly and easily based on Yes or No decisions.

This particular template focuses on setting up social media channels, but you can modify it for any other topic, field or industry.

 

Template #10: Product Launch Flowchart

Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

This bright and engaging flowchart template is all about planning a successful product launch day or event. It’s a great tool for keeping all the team members on the same page so everyone knows what to do and when.

You can keep this small business flowchart as is or modify everything — from the topic to text to colors to shapes and more.

 

Create Your Own Flowchart for Free

If you’re all prepped to create your own flowchart and you know what the common flowchart symbols are, it’s time to make your own flowchart.

Making a flowchart is an easy process if you have the right tools at your disposal.

Visme’s flowchart maker is a great alternative to Word, especially for beginners who want to quickly create flowcharts with minimum effort. Another benefit of using Visme is you get access to professionally designed flowchart templates that are a treat to the eyes.

So, what are you waiting for? Happy diagramming!

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    About the Author

    Mahnoor Sheikh is the content marketing manager at Visme. She has years of experience in content strategy and execution, SEO copywriting and graphic design. She is also the founder of MASH Content and is passionate about tea, kittens and traveling with her husband. Get in touch with her on LinkedIn.

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