Adding swimlanes to a flowchart is a simple way to further organize the information in your diagram. Swimlanes provide an overarching structure that can be used to assign steps to specific teams, illustrate the various phases of a process, and much more. Use this guide to create swimlane diagrams in both PowerPoint and Lucidchart.
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Want to make a swimlane diagram of your own? Try Lucidchart. It's quick, easy, and completely free.
How to create a swimlane diagram in PowerPoint
Although PowerPoint is a great tool for creating presentations, its diagramming functionality is extremely limited. It is possible to create swimlane diagrams in PowerPoint—as outlined below—but we recommend using Lucidchart. Follow these steps to make a swimlane diagram in PowerPoint, or skip to the next section to learn how to use Lucidchart.
1. Add swimlane containers
On a blank PowerPoint slide, navigate to the insert tab and click “Shapes.” Add one large rectangle for the body of your swimlane. Then, add another box to the top of the first box to act as the title section of your swimlane
After building your first swimlane, we recommend grouping the two rectangle shapes (click on both shapes, then right-click and select “Group”). Once they are grouped, you can easily change the colors of the swimlane. We went ahead and made the swimlane background transparent and gave the shapes a black outline. Once they look correct, copy and paste your swimlane as many times as needed.
2. Label each swimlane
Swimlanes typically represent distinct departments that contribute to the same process, providing a simple way to delegate tasks. To label your swimlanes, simply add a textbox from the insert tab.
3. Build a flowchart
Now that you have created swimlanes, the next step is to add a flowchart. For step-by-step instructions, check out our guide on how to make a flowchart in PowerPoint. All of the shapes and connectors that you’ll need can be found in PowerPoint’s shapes library. Navigate to the insert tab, click “Shapes,” and add shapes as required.
4. Format shapes
To visually organize the content of your swimlane diagrams in PowerPoint, we suggest changing the colors, font, and anything else that will make your diagram more visually appealing. Most stylistic elements can be adjusted using the format shape pane. To access this, simply double-click any shape or line.
As you can see, creating a swimlane diagram in PowerPoint is possible, but not ideal. For a more complete experience, try out Lucidchart—a solution built specifically for diagramming.
Want to make a swimlane diagram of your own? Try Lucidchart. It's quick, easy, and completely free.Make a swimlane diagram
How to create a swimlane diagram with Lucidchart
Lucidchart is a powerful visual workspace that allows you to quickly create complex, beautiful diagrams, no matter your prior experience. The following steps will provide you with the basic information needed to create your first swimlane diagram from scratch in Lucidchart.
Before you can get diagramming, you’ll need to sign up for a free Lucidchart account. Registration will only take a minute—just enter your name and email address, and choose a password!
1. Enable shape libraries
Once logged into your Lucidchart account, you should see the “My Documents” page. Click “+Document” to create a new diagram, then click “Shapes” (located in the upper-left corner). Scroll until you find “Flowchart Shapes” and click the arrow next to it. Make sure that both subcategories—“Flowcharts” and “Containers”—are selected.
2. Add swimlanes
Once the shape libraries have been enabled, add swimlanes to your document. The swimlane shapes can be found in the container category—click and drag one onto the canvas. You can adjust the number of swimlanes using the advanced options menu. Just click the original shape, and this menu will appear above the canvas (as seen in the image below).
3. Add flowchart shapes
Just like adding swimlane shapes, you can add flowchart shapes by dragging and dropping any shape onto the canvas. Connect shapes by hovering over the shape and dragging out from the red dots that appear on the shape’s perimeter.
4. Format shapes
Formatting shapes in Lucidchart is incredibly easy with our intuitive themes tool. Simply open the themes menu on the right side of your window and choose one of our preloaded themes. To create your own theme, style any shape and then set the shape as the default. Then, apply your custom theme to all shapes by clicking “Apply All” at the top of the theme menu.
Save time with templates
Rather than starting your swimlane diagram from scratch, you can also choose from a number of Lucidchart templates. To access the Lucidchart’s template library, click the arrow next to “+Document.” Use the search bar in the upper-left corner to find a template that will meet your needs. Single-click the thumbnail images to read more about that template, then click “Create Document” to use it. Double-clicking one of the thumbnails will also create a new document from that template.
All of our templates are completely customizable—you can add and format shapes using the same steps listed above!
Insert a Lucidchart diagram into PowerPoint
After creating your swimlane diagram in Lucidchart, you can insert it directly into your PowerPoint presentation in a matter of minutes! Follow the steps below to learn how.
1. Install the Lucidchart add-in
In PowerPoint, navigate to the insert tab and click My Add-ins > Store. Lucidchart should appear as a recommended add-in, but if it doesn’t, you can find it using the search bar. To install it, just click “Add”—it’s completely free.
2. Browse your Lucidchart diagrams
Open the Lucidchart add-in by going to Insert > My Add-ins > Lucidchart. With the Lucidchart add-in open, you can view all of your Lucidchart diagrams. Browse until you find the diagram that you would like to insert.
3. Insert your diagram
Once you’ve selected a diagram to insert into PowerPoint, simply move your mouse over it and click “Select.” If you edit that diagram in Lucidchart, you can easily apply those changes in PowerPoint—just click the refresh button located below your diagram.