How to Make a Flowchart in Excel

Most people use Excel for spreadsheets and crunching numbers, but the program also features basic flowchart symbols and lines. Follow this guide to create and style simple flowcharts in Microsoft Excel 2013. If you’re not sure which shapes to include or what information to use, see our guide on how to create a flowchart.

For a better diagramming solution, try Lucidchart. From day one, it was designed specifically to make flowcharts and other diagram types. And unlike Excel, it works on nearly any device and supports real-time collaboration between users.

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Make a Flowchart in Excel:

1.

First, open a blank workbook in Excel.

2.

To simplify flowchart creation, you might want to adjust the menu display settings. Do this by clicking the Ribbon Display Options icon in the top-right corner and choosing the option you want. This creates a cleaner-looking canvas in which to work.


ADD A GRID

1.

Grids can help you align shapes and create consistent dimensions for each object. In Excel, a grid is created by changing the column widths to match standard row height.

2.

To make a grid, click on the top left corner of the spreadsheet, which will select all cells. Right-click on any column and select Column Width. Then, specify a column width that will produce a grid-like look on your document.

how to make a flowchart in excel

3.

To enable Snap to Grid and Snap to Shape, click the Page Layout tab and select Align. Then click the options you want to enable.


SET PAGE LAYOUT

1.

While you can leave page layout as it is, you may want to format it before creating a flowchart. A set page layout better displays your content and is more easily copied into other applications, like Word or PowerPoint.

2.

To set the layout, click the Page Layout tab and use the Margins, Orientation, and Size menus to change the settings. Be cautious when changing the Theme on the Page Layout tab; it not only alters fonts and color themes, but also modifies row height and column width, changing the number of shapes that fit on a page.


ADD SHAPES

1.

Click the Insert tab and select SmartArt or Shapes. SmartArt graphics are pre-made groups of shapes with styling and logic built into them. Shapes are individual objects that can be added to a spreadsheet and edited as necessary.

If you choose SmartArt:

  • A dialog will pop up and prompt you to pick a SmartArt graphic from the gallery. The left panel contains several categories; select Process for flowchart-specific graphics. Then click the SmartArt graphic you want to insert. A preview of that graphic will appear in the right panel, along with an explanation of its logic. Click OK. Remember that not every option is classified as a flowchart shape.

  • To replace your graphic, select it and press Delete. Then click the SmartArt Graphics menu (Insert > SmartArt) and choose a different chart type. If you prefer to change the layout of a graphic, select it and click Design > Layout to pick another style. Chart layout can be edited without losing any text.

  • Continue to add shapes and connect them with lines until your flowchart is ready. Some SmartArt Graphics don’t support unlimited shape addition. For those that do, select the shape nearest to where you want to add a new shape. You may need to select the entire chart, depending on which type you’ve inserted. Then choose an action, like Add a Shape, from the Design tab.

If you choose Shapes:

  • A gallery will appear with a variety of shapes, including lines, arrows, and geometric shapes. For standard flowchart shapes, select objects from the Flowchart category. Click the shape you want to add, then click and drag on the spreadsheet to place it. The shape will resize according to the dimensions you set.

  • Continue to add shapes and connect them with lines until you’ve created your flowchart.

ADD LINES

1.

To connect shapes with lines, click Insert > Shapes and click the desired line style. Then click and drag on the spreadsheet to draw a line.


ADD TEXT

1.

To add text inside a SmartArt graphic, click on the filler text to replace it with your own words. The text boxes will automatically resize based on how many much text you add.

2.

To add text inside a shape, double-click it and start typing. Font options can be edited from the dialog that appears right next to the shape.

3.

If you’re not sure whether an element supports text insertion, double-click it and start typing. Words will appear if they’re supported.


STYLE SHAPES AND LINES FROM THE PAGE

1.

For simple edits, try right-clicking on an object. A menu will appear with basic editing options, like editing text, picking a color fill, or sending an item forward or backward.

2.

To edit style, fill, or outline, click the graphical menu that appears when you right-click a shape.

3.

To move a shape (whether it’s an individual object or part of a SmartArt graphic), click and drag. Drag from an edge or corner to resize, and click and drag the handle icon to rotate.

4.

To move lines, click and drag them. Drag from the end points to resize.

5.

To move or format multiple shapes and lines, click on a shape, press Shift, and select the remaining shapes by clicking on them. Alternatively, click and drag your mouse around each shape you want to select. Once the objects are selected, you can move them with arrow keys or your mouse. You can also add formatting, such as a different color fill, and it will apply to the entire selection of shapes. Deselect by clicking on another part of the spreadsheet.


STYLE SHAPES AND LINES FROM THE RIBBON

1.

For a comprehensive menu of editing and styling options, click a shape or SmartArt graphic (or several, by pressing Shift while you click each shape).

If you select a shape:

  • You’ll see a new tab, Format, appear in the ribbon. Click here for a variety of formatting options, including the ability to insert shapes, style shapes, add WordArt, modify text, arrange page elements, and adjust shape size.

If you select a SmartArt graphic:

  • You’ll see 2 new tabs, Format and Design, appear in the ribbon. Click here for a variety of formatting and design options, including the ability to switch the layout style, change colors, alter SmartArt Styles, and reset graphics.

These options will appear any time you select a shape or SmartArt graphic.


Make a Flowchart in Lucidchart:

For flowchart creation, Lucidchart is easier to use than Word. Objects intuitively snap to each other, and publishing for print or digital viewing takes one click. If you’d like to include a flowchart in a Word document, simply make it in Lucidchart and insert as an image.

ADD SHAPES

1.

First, enter the demo environment or sign up for an account. If you sign up for an account, access the editor by clicking Create Document.

2.

Make sure you have the correct shape libraries open by clicking the More Shapes button and selecting your desired shapes. In new documents, standard flowchart shapes will automatically appear in the left toolbox.

3.

When you’re ready to begin, just drag a shape from the toolbox on the left and drop it onto the canvas.


ADD LINES

1.

Hover along the border of an object. When crosshairs appear, click and drag to draw a line. As you release the mouse, you’ll be automatically prompted to add the next shape. You can also draw a line by right-clicking and choosing Draw Line, or pressing L on your keyboard.


ADD TEXT

1.

To add text, drag out the T icon from the toolbox, place it, and begin typing. To add text inside a shape, double-click the shape and start typing.


STYLE FROM THE CANVAS

1.

For quick edits, right-click a shape or line. A menu will appear with popular editing options, like sending an item to the front or back, drawing a line, or switching the shape.

2.

To move a shape, click and drag. Drag from an edge or corner to resize, and click and drag the handle icon to rotate.

3.

To move multiple shapes, select them by holding down Shift as you click each object, then drag as needed.

4.

Lines are designed to snap to connection points along the object’s border. Click and drag the end of the line along the border to change where it connects, or drag it to the center of the object to force the line to dynamically change position when the shape is moved.


STYLE FROM THE PROPERTIES BAR AND GRAPHIC PANEL

1.

To modify text, including alignment and font size, select text and choose options from the properties bar at the top of the page.

2.

To alter graphical qualities like fill color and gradients, select the element you want to modify and choose options from the graphic panel on the right side of the page.

3.

To modify lines and shapes, select the element you want to change and choose options from the properties bar. Add text to any part of a line by double-clicking and typing on the line.


ADD TO EXCEL

1.

To embed your flowchart into Microsoft Excel, click File > Download As. Select the image file type you prefer, indicate which areas of the document you want to download, then hit the download button.

2.

Open a blank workbook in Excel. Then click the Insert tab and select Pictures. Find the image you downloaded and click Insert.


USEFUL FEATURES IN LUCIDCHART

Our application has a selection of useful features that you can’t find in other diagramming programs. Instead of clunky shape insertion, just drag and drop shapes onto our responsive canvas. Connecting lines is as simple as drawing them; they’ll instantly snap to the correct shape and area. Users can even add interactive links and layers for a great-looking presentation. Lucidchart makes it easy to add standard flowchart symbols, apply attractive styles, and share your flowchart online.

With Lucidchart, you get professional-grade tools to create and share streamlined flowcharts. Why not give it a try? We offer completely free accounts, as well as free trials for our premium levels.

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