A well-designed flowchart can help you brainstorm ideas, diagram system processes and explain them to others in a compact, visual diagram. Unlike Visio, which comes with extensive flow tools, Microsoft Word only has shapes you can use to create a diagram. However, with a little creativity, you can learn to draw flowchart shapes and connect them in a variety of ways. Word also gives you the ability to format your shapes to create the exact look you like.

Step 1

Create a new Word document and click "Insert." Click "Shapes" to view a pop-up menu that contains shapes. Move to the Flowchart section and review its shapes. They don't have visible names, but you can see their names when you hover over them. For instance, if you move your mouse cursor over the rectangle, you'll see a tool tip that identifies the shape as a Process symbol.

Step 2

Click the shape you'd like to place on your flowchart, hold down your left mouse button and click the location in the document where you want to place the shape. Drag your mouse cursor to draw the shape on the document. Click inside the shape, hold down your mouse button and drag the shape if you need to reposition it to a better location.

Step 3

Click "Shapes" again, click another shape and add it to the document as you did with the previous shape. For instance, you might add a Decision symbol to the right on the Process symbol if you want to illustrate a process that requires a decision.

Step 4

Click "Shapes" and click one of the lines in the Lines section. Since all flowcharts have lines that connect shapes, you can use one of the lines in the Lines section to connect any two shapes.

Step 5

Click the line you'd like to use to connect the two shapes and click a point to the right of the first shape. Hold down your left mouse button and drag the cursor to the right until it almost touches the second shape’s left edge. Release the mouse button, and Word draws a line between the two shapes. If the line isn't exactly where you want it, click the line and drag it up or down to position it accurately.

Step 6

Right-click a shape, select "Add Text" and type the text you want to appear in the shape. Repeat these steps to add additional shapes, lines and text to your flowchart.

Warnings

  • These steps apply to Microsoft Word 2013. Your steps may vary depending on the Word version you use.

Tips

  • Click a shape to select it, and you can press your arrow keys to move it in small amounts. You'll find this useful when you need to position a shape accurately.

  • Resize a shape by clicking one of the handles along its edges and dragging the handle to make the shape larger or smaller. Hold down your "Ctrl" key, click multiple shapes and all shapes you select resize when you resize of them. You can also move multiple shapes as a group by selecting them and moving any shape you’ve selected.

  • Right-click a shape, click "Format Shape" and you'll see the Format Shape panel open. For example, if you click "Fill," you can select the shape's fill color.

  • Dedicated flowchart software simplifies the flowchart creation process in several ways. They make it easier for you to place shapes onto a document and many flowchart applications draw lines between shapes automatically. These apps often have grids that help you position shapes accurately. However, Word still helps you build a professional-looking flowchart using the shapes and lines that it contains.