how to make a flowchart in word feature image in clickup blog

How to Make a Flowchart in Microsoft Word

Flowcharts are designed to produce actionable information for any workflow, process, or decision-making procedure. Yet, we spend most of our time creating abandoned flowcharts instead of using them as interactive workflow diagrams.

If you’re strapped for time and want to get the ideas circling in your head down quickly, use the free Introduction to Whiteboards template by ClickUp to add content to the pre-built Flow Chart.

You’ll have a flowchart ready in half the time it takes to build one in Microsoft Word!

ClickUp is the #1 drawing canvas to build an entire flowchart from scratch or with prebuilt templates
Visualize processes and relationships with Whiteboards in ClickUp 

How to Make a Flowchart in Word: Prep for Success

In this tutorial, we use Microsoft Excel for Mac Version 16.60. The steps and features may look different if you’re on another version.

There are two ways to create a flowchart in Word (and we’ll cover them both)!

1. Using a pre-built SmartArt process graphic

2. Building a flowchart illustration from scratch

Before you start adding your content and shapes, write out your process in a list from start to finish. This will help you move faster later through the build process because you’ll already have the exact number of steps and placeholders. 

Unless you’re using a whiteboard tool like ClickUp, please don’t attempt to coordinate the steps and build your flowchart symbols at the same time! You’ll be lost in the menu bar correcting mistakes. Microsoft Word is not built to work at the speed of thought. 

Here’s what a simple process list would look like to submit a team offsite request: 

1. Manager submits Offsite Request Form (start)
2. Operations Coordinator reviews Offsite Form (process)
3. SVP of Operations approves the Offsite Request Form (process)
4. Operations Coordinator opens a project (end)

Because you’ve outlined each step of the process, you’re off to a great start! If you prefer using a pre-built SmartArt graphic, follow the next steps below.

Version 1: Building a Flowchart in Word With a SmartArt Graphic

Step 1. Add a SmartArt graphic

First, change the page layout to give more room left to right for the flowchart. Go to the Layout tab > Orientation > and select Landscape

Then, copy your process list and go to the Insert tab > SmartArt > Process, and select the chart of your choice. (Our example is using the Repeating Bending Process process chart.)

use predefined smartart templates to create flowcharts in a word document
Created in Microsoft Word

Step 2. Paste your process list in the Text Pane window

After you click on the process chart, it will appear in your Word document. Paste the process list you copied into the Text Pane window. If you don’t see the Text Pane window, make sure the SmartArt graphic is highlighted. Then go to the SmartArt Design tab at the top and click Text Pane at the far left. 

use the text pane window to add content to your flowchart in word
Created in Microsoft Word

Step 3. Format your flowchart

Use the SmartArt Design tab to change the color, update the flowchart symbol styles, and add more shapes to complete your graphic! If the SmartArt Design tab isn’t showing on your menu bar, double-check the flowchart is highlighted.

Use the shape outline menus to change the shape fill on your flowchart
Created in Microsoft Word

And that’s how you build a flowchart with SmartArt!

Version 2: Building a Flowchart in Word With Basic Symbols

Step 1. Add shapes for each process step

Go to the Insert tab > Shapes > Flowchart > select a shape > click anywhere in your document to add. 

how to make a flowchart in word using the shapes tool
Created in Microsoft Word

Tip: Here’s a quick table of the different flowchart symbols to use for powerful visualization:

table showing the most common flowchart shapes in microsoft word
Shape StylesFunctionsHow to Add
OvalTerminal: the start point and end point of a flowchartInsert tab > Shapes > Flowchart > Terminator
RectangleProcess: represents a single step in the process Insert tab > Shapes > Flowchart > Process
DiamondDecision: represents a decision actionInsert tab > Shapes > Flowchart > Decision
ArrowArrow: shows the relationship by connecting shapesInsert tab > Shapes > Flowchart > Arrow

Step 2. Customize your shapes 

Typically, editing the shape’s color and size happens at the end. But because it takes multiple clicks to add shapes in Word, you should format your ideal shapes and use the copy and paste feature to duplicate them. 

Go to the Shape Format tab, and the menu bar will adjust to show all the changes you can make to the shapes. Once you have your perfect shape, copy and paste it as many times as you need! 

how to make a flowchart in word using the shape format tab
Created in Microsoft Word

Step 3. Add text inside each flowchart symbol

We want to add text inside the shapes, so let’s make them bigger! Select one of the shapes > hold the Command or Shift key > select the other shapes > go to a shape’s corner and drag to expand. Click on a shape and begin typing in each step until all the shapes are filled with text. 

select the flowchart group to change them to your preferred layout
Created in Microsoft Word

Step 4. Add the arrows to connect each process step

We’re almost there! With your shapes in place, it’s time to connect the sequence of events. Go to the Insert tab > Shapes > Lines > and click the Arrow.

Tip: You can customize the arrow’s shape and color under the Shape Format tab! Make sure the arrow is selected first to make any changes. Then, copy and paste the arrow to add it again for your other process steps. 

add arrows and customize the line style to fit your preference
Created in Microsoft Word

Whew. All that work inside Microsoft Word didn’t leave much time and energy for what comes after the flowchart—taking action towards progress. 

If you’re looking to upgrade your flowchart tools and software for a powerful visual platform to create, test, edit, and collaborate with your team, try ClickUp!

Build Interactive Flowcharts in Minutes With ClickUp

No code or design experience required! 

The majority of your time spent in Word is formatting. And while formatting is important for visual balance and presentation, it won’t matter if no one—including you—uses the flowchart to move the needle in the process or project. 

Microsoft Word is a powerful software program for creating almost anything. But it’s just not efficient in a modern workplace where remote and in-office collaboration has its challenges and benefits.

And chances are, your team members won’t volunteer their time to co-create a flowchart in Word. The software has too many options and steps to achieve one purpose. 

What your tasks and team members need is an all-in-one productivity platform to organize ideas and work

A suite of designer-approved flowchart templates to boost productivity and collaboration.

A zoomable canvas to bring ideas and views to life

If you’ve ever been curious about whiteboard software or ClickUp, we hope you take advantage of our free Whiteboards and test drive the platform with your next project or idea!

Choose a clickup whiteboard flowchart template or start with a new drawing canvas to create flowcharts
Select a diagram from the ClickUp Whiteboard Template Library to kick start your ideation process

ClickUp Whiteboards will be your favorite drawing canvas to rapidly develop flowcharts and frameworks. All the shapes you need are semi-customized to relieve you from creating each object from the ground up. Use Whiteboards for presentations, team brainstorming workshops, or solo projects!

With Whiteboards, you also have the option to save your flowchart as an image and drop it into a document or email. It’s easy! Here’s how it works: 

1. Create your flowchart in a ClickUp Whiteboard

2. Right-click the image

3. Select Save Image As

Drop it into your file, and you’re good to go! If you want to see Whiteboards in action, check out our guide below! 

Questions? Comments? Visit our Help Center for support.

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