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Visio2007ConnectingShapesinFlowcharts

Many types of Microsoft Office Visio diagrams depict related ideas, relationships, or sequences by showing shapes
that are connected with lines. For example, a flowchart shows each of the steps in a process as a series of shapes
connected by lines. Organization charts show employee relationships as a hierarchy of shapes connected by lines.
Network diagrams use lines to show equipment connected to hubs. This tutorial shows you how to connect shapes in
a flowchart.

Flowcharts visually represent processes


Flowcharts are the ideal diagrams for visually representing business processes in Microsoft Office Visio 2007. For
example, if you need to show the flow of a custom-order process through various departments within your
organization, you can use a flowchart. Visio includes several different flowchart templates; however, the most
common type of flowchart uses simple shapes to represent the basic elements in a business process, as shown in
the following table.

Shape name

TIP

Shape

What it represents

Process

Steps in a business process

Decision

Decisions in a business process

Document

Steps that result in or require documentation

Data

Steps that require data

As you drag a flowchart shape onto the drawing page, a dynamic grid appears as a dotted line through the

shape to show you how to align it with respect to the shapes already on the page.

Visio makes it easy to connect the shapes in these diagrams by using connectors1-D shapes (usually lines or
arrows) that connect 2-D shapes, such as the process shapes in a flowchart. If you rearrange the connected 2-D
shapes, the connectors stay attached to the shapes and reroute for you, so you dont waste time redrawing lines. In

Adapted from Microsoft Help and How-to Janet W. Lee jwlee@lmu.edu 8-7771

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Visio2007ConnectingShapesinFlowcharts

some diagrams, such as flowcharts, you can even drag a 2-D shape between two connected shapes, and Visio
reroutes the connector and connects all three shapes.

Visio 2007 makes connecting shapes even easier by adding a new feature: AutoConnect. With AutoConnect, Visio
does all the connection work for you. Just drag shapes onto the drawing page, and Visio connects, aligns, and evenly
distributes the shapes for you.

You add connectors between these flowchart shapes to show relationships between them and the sequence of steps
in a process. Flowchart connectors are usually lines with arrowheads that can include text to clarify the process being
depicted. When Visio adds a connector (or you add one yourself), the endpoints of the connector glue to the shapes
it connectsthat is, Visio creates a bond that wont break unless you move a connector endpoint or delete the
connector. When you select a connector that is glued to a shape, the connectors endpoints turn red, indicating that
the connector will be rerouted when you move the connected shapes.

The method you use to connect shapes in a flowchart determines how the connectors reroute and how much control
you have over where connectors are attached to shapes. If you simply connect one shape to another without
specifying a point of connection, you dont have any control over how the connectors reroute, which is preferable for
many diagram types. However, when you need total control over your shape connections, you can connect shapes
using connection pointsspecific points on a shape represented by a blue symbol. That way, the connector stays
connected to those specific points, regardless of where you move the shapes.

Visio provides several methods for connecting shapes. Each method offers different levels of control, and some are
more suited for particular drawing types, as shown in the following table. When you work with Visio, you typically use
a combination of these methods when creating your diagrams.

Adapted from Microsoft Help and How-to Janet W. Lee jwlee@lmu.edu 8-7771

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Visio2007ConnectingShapesinFlowcharts

Connection
Method

How To Use It

When To Use It

AutoConnect
shapes by
dragging a shape
onto the drawing
page.

Drag a shape onto another


shape on the drawing page,
and when blue arrows appear
around the shape on the
drawing page, position the
shape over one of the arrows.

Use this method when you want Visio to


connect, align, and evenly distributes the
shapes for youall in one step.
Example diagram types: Any diagram that
shows relationships, such as basic flowcharts,
cross-functional flowcharts, or audit diagrams.
Level of control: When you dont care exactly
where two shapes connect to each other, how
the connectors reroute, and the exact position
of the connected shapes.

AutoConnect
shapes by clicking
a shape on a
stencil.

Click a shape on a stencil, and


then position the pointer over
a shape on the drawing page.
When blue arrows appear
around the shape on the
drawing page, click one of
them.

Use this method when you want Visio to


automatically connect shapes for you and you
want to rapidly connect multiple shapes.
Example diagram types: Any diagram that
shows relationships, such as basic flowcharts,
cross-functional flowcharts, or audit diagrams.
Level of control: When you dont care exactly
where two shapes connect to each other, how
the connectors reroute, and the exact position
of the connected shapes.

AutoConnect
neighboring
shapes that are
already on the
drawing page

Pause the pointer over a


shape on the drawing page,
and when blue arrows appear
around the shape, move the
pointer over the blue arrow
closest to the neighboring
shape to which you want to
connect. The blue arrow turns
dark blue, a red box appears
around the neighboring shape
to which you can connect,
and a Connect to Neighboring
Shape ScreenTip appears.
Click the blue arrow to
connect the two shapes.

Use this method when you want to connect


neighboring shapes that are already on the
drawing page.
Example diagram types: Any diagram that
shows relationships, such as basic flowcharts,
cross-functional flowcharts, or audit diagrams.
Level of control: When you dont care exactly
how the connectors reroute.

Adapted from Microsoft Help and How-to Janet W. Lee jwlee@lmu.edu 8-7771

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Visio2007ConnectingShapesinFlowcharts

Connection
Method

How To Use It

When To Use It

Connect shapes
as you drag them
onto the page
using the
Connector tool.

Click the Connector tool, and


then drag shapes onto the
drawing page. Each new
shape is connected to the
selected shape on the drawing
page.

Use this method when you want to connect


new shapes to the selected shape on the
drawing page.
Example diagram types: Any diagram that
shows relationships, such as basic flowcharts,
cross-functional flowcharts, or audit diagrams.
Level of control: When you dont care exactly
where two shapes connect to each other and
how the connectors reroute, but you do want
to precisely position the connected shapes.

Connect shapes
already on the
drawing page
using the
Connector tool.

Connect shapes
that are already
on the drawing
page using the
Connect Shapes
command.

Position the pointer over a


shape on the drawing page,
and then drag to another
shape to draw a connector
between the two shapes. Or,
position the pointer over a
shapes connection point, and
then drag to another shapes
connection point to draw a
connector between two
shapes.

Use this method when you want to connect


shapes that are already on the drawing page.

Hold down the Shift key,


select all the shapes you want
to connect, in the order you
want to connect them, and
then on the Shape menu,
click Connect Shapes.

Use this method when you want to connect


shapes that are already on the drawing page
in a specific order.

Example diagram types: Basic flowcharts and


data flow diagrams.
Level of control: This method gives you control
over the precise point of connection between
two shapes, if you connect the shapes using
their connection points.

Example diagram types: Any diagram that


shows relationships, such as basic flowcharts,
cross-functional flowcharts, audit diagrams,
fault-tree analysis diagrams, and work flow
diagrams.
Level of control: When you dont care exactly
where two shapes connect to each other or
how the connectors reroute.

Adapted from Microsoft Help and How-to Janet W. Lee jwlee@lmu.edu 8-7771

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Visio2007ConnectingShapesinFlowcharts

Connection
Method

How To Use It

When To Use It

Connect shapes
already on the
drawing page by
using a connector
from a stencil

Drag a connector from a


stencil onto the drawing page,
position one endpoint on a
connection point on one
shape, and then position the
other endpoint on the
connection point on the other
shape.

Use this method in diagrams that use specific


types of connectorsfor example, a 3-D arrow
in block or ITIL diagram and network
equipment in racks.
Example diagram types: Basic, block,
brainstorming, cause and effect, charts and
graphs, ITIL, network diagrams, and value
stream maps.
Level of control: This method gives you control
over the precise point of connection between
two shapes.

As you become more familiar with flowcharts, keep in mind that the techniques you use to connect flowchart shapes
apply to other types of diagrams as well. As you modify shape connections and arrange connected shapes, you can
take advantage of several layout tools that help you evenly distribute, align, and position shapes. You can even
change the orientation of all the connected shapes in a diagram; for example, you can change the layout in a
flowchart from top to bottom and from left to right.

Adapted from Microsoft Help and How-to Janet W. Lee jwlee@lmu.edu 8-7771

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