What is an Organizational Chart?

An organizational chart visually depicts the internal structure of an organization or company. The employees are represented by boxes, and elbowed lines link the levels together.

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What is an Organizational Chart

An organizational chart shows the internal structure and hierarchies of an organization, like a business, school, or government entity. It creates an easy visual depiction for the ranks of different people, jobs, and departments that make up the organization. Orgizational charts also help determine how authority and information flow between people and departments.

Like flowcharts, org charts use simple shapes and lines. The boxes are filled with information on the individual, department, or team; while vertical and horizontal lines connect these boxes. The connections between boxes illustrate the direct-reports of a supervisor, showing who is superior and who is subordinate.

Organizational charts do exactly what their name suggests: Organize the roles and positions in an organization. You may want to round out your org chart by including the details of people or departments. Adding contact information, location, and other notes can make the organization more efficient and eliminate confusion about who does what. Try breaking down your org chart into manageable pieces to get started. This way, all of the information is consistent and leads back to the highest level of the organization. You can section off different areas of your chart with the following categories:

  • Department
  • Team
  • Unit
  • Project
  • Location

Types of Organizational Charts

What is an organizational chart's best format? Depending on your needs and the type of organization, you may want to choose a less traditional org chart format. There are several types of org charts, including hierarchical, matrix, and flat.


The hierarchical organizational chart is the most common type. A hierarchy is where one group or person is at the top, while those with less power are beneath them, in the shape of a pyramid. Think of a monarchy with a king or queen at the top, or an organization with the CEO at the top. With a hierarchy, members typically communicate with the person they report to and anyone who reports directly to them. This gives guidance for information flow but can also limit your ability to effect change.

what is an organizational chart


The matrix organizational chart is a rarer type and usually only seen when individuals have more than one manager. For example, an organization could have a team of graphic designers who all report to the head graphic designer. The graphic designers are also working on other projects that are likely headed by a separate project manager. In this case, the graphic designers will have two managers. This structure can lead to increased communication and cooperation between departments, but it can also lead to conflicts of interest.

what is an organizational chart


The flat organizational chart, sometimes referred to as a horizontal org chart, has little or no levels of middle management and typically consists of two levels—the top administrators and the workers. In companies like this, the workers have more responsibility and are more directly involved in decision-making.

what is an organizational chart

What is an organizational chart's best use? No matter which layout you choose to use, org charts are very useful for laying out relationships in your organization and ensuring that everyone knows how to communicate essential information. Utilize org charts for:

  • Organizational and supervisory communication - e.g, helping employees know who their manager is
  • Restructuring - e.g., switching roles in a team to better utilize everyone’s talents
  • Workforce planning - e.g., figuring out the details of a new hiring initiative
  • Departmental or team planning - e.g., assigning tasks to the appropriate parties
  • Resource planning - e.g., reducing inefficiencies by rearranging roles
  • Managing changes - e.g., representing plans for a business’ future
  • Job planning and analysis - e.g., informing employees about their expected tasks

An org chart isn’t just a list of job titles; rather, it’s a transparent look at your organization’s culture. Although org charts only show formal supervisory relationships, they sometimes fall short in representing social relationships and interactions. Ultimately, they provide a useful guideline for how your organization works on a daily basis.

Creating organizational charts in Lucidchart is simple and intuitive! If you're not sure where to begin, check out this tutorial for tips on creating an organizational chart.

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