Basics of flowcharting
Flowcharts are used in analysing, designing, documenting or managing a process or program in various fields.
A data flow diagram or flowchart, documents the logical flow of data through a set of processes or procedures.
It shows the steps as boxes with arrows connecting them in a directional flow of how the process should proceed. Within these boxes you can include external sources and content to describe further what the instruction is.
Creating a Quick Flowchart
Go into a Microsoft application i.e. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and click on the Office button. Select New and in the search panel type in Flowchart.
The search will return one result from Microsoft Online templates called ‘Sample tqm Flowchart’.
If you are searching in PowerPoint, go to New, and select Diagrams from Microsoft Office Online, there will be several to choose from under Process diagrams and Other diagrams.
SmartArt from office 2007 is a new way of creating dynamic 3D flowcharts with additional effects from predefined templates, however saving in a lower format other than 2007 will mean loss of fidelity.
Under the Insert Ribbon PowerPoint, Word and Excel contain several Flowchart pieces in the Shapes command. From here you are able to manually construct a flowchart by inserting and arranging the shapes into the appropriate lines of processes.
Go to the Insert Ribbon, Click on the Shapes icon, under the Flowchart section click on a shape and draw it onto the document.
When the shape is highlighted and the toggle bars are visible, you can resize the shape by holding down your left mouse key and dragging it to the size you want. You can also reposition it this way too.
If you are going to be using the same shape to create the flowchart and wish to keep the same size, copy the shape and paste them next to each other.
Under the Shapes icon and Line section select what sort of line you require to connect to the boxes. When you have clicked on the appropriate line draw it in the document.
When connecting the lines to the boxes drag your line to one side of the box, if red squares appear (also known as endpoints), then that means you can connect the line to the box and they will stay connected no matter where you move the box to on the page.
To change the arrow curvature, drag the selection handle. To change the location of the ends of the arrows, drag the control handle.
Alignment and Rotating
In Office 2007, whenever you insert a picture, an additional ribbon will appear called Drawing Tools. From here you are able to go to the Arrange group and click on the alignment button. This is very beneficial when wishing to align several shapes in a row, much like one would do in a flowchart. You are given the options to align from several angles, as well as to distribute the shapes horizontally or vertically.
Also contained in the Arrange group is the Rotate button which allows the shapes to be rotated or they are not symmetrical flipped.
Flowcharts are trial and error if they are being created from scratch. The template designs may not be exactly what you want, and once the knowledge to do a basic flowchart has been acquired then you will be able to rearrange shapes in any application.
By Kelly Foxhall