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Most people use Excel for spreadsheets and crunching numbers, but the program also features basic flowchart symbols and lines. This guide will lay out all the steps to make a flowchart in Excel and also share how building your flowchart in Lucidchart first is faster, easier, and more efficient.

How to make a flowchart in Excel

Microsoft Excel has features that allow you to make a flowchart directly within your Excel spreadsheet, but it will require some preliminary formatting and manual adjustments to implement your shapes and text. We've provided a guide to flowchart templates in Excel for additional reference. While we recommend saving time by making a flowchart in Lucidchart and using our MS Office Excel Add-In to insert your diagram, we’ve outlined the steps to build a flowchart from within Excel.

1. Format a Grid

Adding a grid to Excel will make creating flowcharts and diagrams a little easier, but know that it’s not required if you’re experienced in Excel. By formatting a grid, you’re changing the column width so that it’s the same size as the default row heights which will, in turn, make added shapes more uniform and properly proportioned.

Select all the cells in your spreadsheet > Right-click on one of the highlighted columns > Select Column Width > Set the Column width to 2.14 > Click OK.

make a flowchart in excel

2. Enable Snap to Grid/Page Alignment Feature

Using the Snap to Grid feature allows your flowchart shapes to resize and “snap” to the nearest grid line. If you choose Snap to Shape, this will allow your shapes to be snapped to the edges of other nearby shapes within your flowchart.

Go to Page Layout > Click on the Align drop-down > Select Snap to Grid (or Snap to Shape)

3. Set the Page Layout

It’s important that you format the page layout in your Excel sheet before making a flowchart. By doing so, you’ll be able to display your content better and it will make copying that content into other Microsoft applications much easier.

Click the Page Layout tab and use the Margins, Orientation, and Size menu options 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, which in turn can change the number of shapes that fit on a page.

4. Add Shapes

There are two ways to add shapes to a flowchart in Excel - you can use SmartArt or Shapes within the Insert tab. 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. You can refer to our flowchart symbols and notations guide to better familiarize yourself with the most commonly used flowchart shapes.

Adding Symbols via SmartArt in Excel

Go to the Insert tab and select SmartArt. A dialog will pop up and prompt you to pick a SmartArt graphic from the gallery. We recommend selecting graphics from within the “Process” category because they’re the closest resemblance to a standard flowchart diagram, but don’t feel limited to any single category; choose any graphic specific to your diagramming needs.

Once you select the SmartArt graphic you want to insert, a preview of that flowchart graphic will appear in the right panel along with an explanation of its logic. Remember that not every option is classified as a flowchart shape.

make a flowchart in excel

To replace your graphic with SmartArt, select it and press Delete. You can then click the SmartArt Graphics (Insert > SmartArt) and choose a different chart type. If you prefer to change the layout of a SmartArt graphic, select the shape(s) and select a new style from the Design tab within the Ribbon menu. At any time, the SmartArt chart layout can be edited without losing any text.

Continue to add flowchart shapes from the Design tab and connect them with lines until your flowchart is ready. You may find that unlike the vast Lucidchart shape library and shape import features, 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.

excel flowchart

Adding Symbols via Shapes in Excel

You can also build your flowchart in excel using the Shapes tool. Go to the Insert tab > select Shapes. A gallery will appear with a variety of basic shapes including lines, arrows, and geometric shapes.

Click the flowchart shape you want to add, then drag the shape to size on the Excel sheet. You can easily click on it to resize or move the shape anywhere on the document.

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

make a flowchart in microsoft excel

5. Add Text

Add text to your flowchart by clicking your placed flowchart symbol then begin typing. In SmartArt, the text boxes and font sizes will automatically resize based on how much text you add.

Edit your text by selecting font options from either the Ribbon home menu or the dialog box that appears next to the shapes.

flowchart in excel

6. Add Lines

Click Insert > Shapes and click the desired line style to connect shapes with lines. You can now click and drag on the spreadsheet to draw a line.

7. Format the Flowchart

Once you have your flowchart shapes, text, and lines in your Excel sheet, the Ribbon at the top offers additional customization options for colors, styles, and formats. Play around with your lines and shapes within the Insert tab and increase the line thickness, font styles, colors, and transparency.

How to import a Lucidchart diagram into Excel

Making a flowchart in Excel requires extensive formatting prior to adding shapes and requires additional steps to update or build onto existing diagrams created in Excel. When trying to add a flowchart into Excel, Lucidchart is the modern solution.

1. Download the MS Office Add-On if you haven’t already

2. Make a flowchart in Lucidchart. Use this guide to learn how to make a flowchart in Lucidchart if you need help getting started.

3. Open your Excel sheet, go to your Add-Ins and select Lucidchart within the Insert tab.

4. Select your flowchart from your documents to insert into your Excel sheet.

You can build beautiful, intricate diagrams in Lucidchart and add them to Excel or edit them in real-time later on in half the steps, clicks, and time.