Swimlanes are popular shapes that can be used to organize processes. They can be used to delegate steps in a process to different departments, providing structure and clarity to otherwise complex tasks. This guide will teach you how to build a swimlane diagram in Microsoft PowerPoint, and then will provide an easier way to create swimlane diagrams using Lucidchart.

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How to create a swimlane diagram in PowerPoint

PowerPoint is an incredibly powerful tool for creating presentations. With its extensive shape library, PowerPoint can be manipulated to create simple diagrams as well, but for a more seamless diagramming experience, we recommend using the Lucidchart MS Office Add-Ins to insert all your diagrams into your MS Office documents.

1. Add shapes

In a blank PowerPoint presentation, the first step is to create swimlane containers. To do this, navigate to the Insert tab and 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 to complete your diagram.

2. Label swimlanes

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 an outline to your swimlane diagram, adding your flowchart is the next step. Check out this guide for a reminder on how to build a flowchart. In PowerPoint, building your flowchart is as easy as adding shapes from the Insert Tab and connecting them to each other.

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.
As you can see, creating a swimlane diagram in PowerPoint is possible, but you will experience several restrictions as you attempt to build more complex diagrams. For a more complete experience, try out Lucidchart— a tool built specifically for diagramming.

Diagramming is quick and easy with Lucidchart. Start a free trial today to start creating and collaborating.

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How to create a swimlane diagram with Lucidchart

The following steps will provide you with the basic information that you will need to create a stunning swimlane diagram in Lucidchart.

Register for Lucidchart

With Lucidchart, organizing complex processes into swimlane diagrams is as easy as dragging and dropping. Sign up for your free account now to begin diagramming.

Enable shape libraries

After signing up for a free Lucidchart account, begin by either opening a blank document, or by choosing one of our pre-loaded templates. If you started with a blank diagram you will need to enable the Containers shape library. To do this, click on the “+Shapes” button at the bottom-left of your window. Then, enable both libraries nested under “Flowchart Shapes.”

Add swimlanes

Once the shape libraries have been enabled, add shapes to the canvas by dragging them from the left menu and dropping them where appropriate. Increase the number of swimlanes by clicking on the original shape, and incrementing in the Advanced Options menu that appears above the canvas.

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.

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 pre-loaded 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.


Insert a Lucidchart diagram into a PowerPoint presentation

After creating your swimlane diagram in Lucidchart, it is still possible that you will want to insert your document into your PowerPoint presentation. Inserting your Lucidchart diagram into PowerPoint is incredibly easy with our MS Office PowerPoint add-in. Here are the steps:

  1. Go to Insert > My Add-ins

  2. Search for Lucidchart and install the Add-In

  3. Sign up for a Lucidchart account, if you haven’t already

  4. Insert the swimlane diagram that you have already created, or create a new diagram

Want to make a Swimlane diagram of your own? Try Lucidchart. It's quick, easy, and completely free.