Creating Process Flows

Process Flow


Are you struggling with being able to get a certain concept or instruction steps across to your training attendees? Or, do you just need to illustrate a process or procedure in your report but don’t have the time or energy to invest in learning Visio? You can do it right inside Word.

The flowchart shapes and symbols are located on the Insert tab in the Shapes button menu. If you can insert a shape in Word, then you can create the flowchart. You just need to create a drawing canvas before you begin that will keep the flowchart items together. It is essentially a box that will help your group of symbols and lines stay grouped together.

Insert a Drawing Canvas

Click on the Insert tab and then the Shape button. Choose “New Drawing Canvas” from the bottom of the menu. See Figure 1.

Insert Shape Menu

Figure 1

The drawing canvas will look like a square box. Everything you add inside the box will stay grouped together. See Figure 2.

Drawing Canvas insert screenshot

Figure 2

Turn on Gridlines

To line up your figures in the drawing canvas, it is good to turn on the gridlines. Click on the View tab and then click to place a check in the “Gridlines” box. See Figure 3.


Figure 3

Insert Flowchart Objects

To insert your flowchart shapes and symbols, click on the Insert tab and then on the Shape button. The buttons are grouped and include “Flowchart”, “Block Arrows”, and “Lines”. See Figure 1. Each of these sections can be useful when you are creating a process flow.  You will begin by adding a “terminator” shape, which functions as the Start of your flowchart. To see what each symbol stands for, hover your mouse over the shape to get a screen tip pop up. See Figure 4.

Insert flowchart symbol with screentip

Figure 4

Once you click on the terminator shape, click in the drawing canvas to create the shape. Don’t worry about the size or location. You can always adjust the size and move the object. See Figure 5.

Inserted terminator shape

Figure 5

Customize Flowchart Objects

If you want to add text to your shape, just right-click on it and choose “Add Text”. You can also choose the “Style”, “Fill”, or “Outline” buttons to adjust that formatting, as well. See Figure 6.

Right-click menu for shape

Figure 6

To adjust the text direction, size, style, and other formatting of your shape, you have a special tab called “Drawing Tools Format” tab. You can find almost anything you need to edit your shape. See Figure 7.

Drawing Tools Format tab ribbon

Figure 7

Finish Your Flowchart

Continue to add objects, arrows, etc. to create your diagram. You do not need to switch back and forth to the Insert tab to put more shapes on your flowchart. Just look on the left side of the Drawing Tools Format tab to see the drop-down gallery of shapes.

When you add the lines and arrows, they will actually connect to the shapes. You can attach the lines to several different points on each shape. As long as you add all of the shapes inside the drawing canvas, they will stay together.

To align shapes, you can select them by clicking on the first shape and then use Shift+click on the other shapes you want to align. The Align command is on the Drawing Tools format tab pictured in Figure 7 above.

Don’t overlook the Shape Effects command in the Shape Styles group towards the left side of the Drawing Tools Format tab ribbon. There are some great way to customize the look of your objects. When you are done, don’t forget to turn off the gridlines (under View tab and uncheck the Gridlines box).


Image credit:

Angela Nino - Versitas Editor

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