Flow Chart in Excel

Flow Chart in Excel

The flow chart in Excel is an excellent tool for representing a process flow in a sequential manner, especially business processes. The flow chart allows you to build flowcharts within your worksheets. We can make a flow chart in Excel using the SmartArt graphic. You have pre-set flowcharts in Excel in the SmartArt Tools Design section. Let us look at an example of a basic flowchart representing the series of steps of a simple counter.

In this Flowchart, the oval shape represents the terminator, the rectangle represents the process, the diamond shape represents decision-making, and the arrows are connectors and represent the direction of flow of the process.

Flow Chart in Excel Intro.jpg
Key Takeaways
  • A flow chart in Excel is a pictorial representation outlining sequential steps and processes in an organization. It helps you take measured steps toward success.
  • You have a pre-set flow chart in Excel in SmartArt Tools Design. You can also create flowcharts using shapes provided in the Insert tab and Illustrations.
  • You can customize your flowcharts using the SmartArt Design Tools. You can also resize your grid, remove gridlines, and so on for a better look and feel of the Flowchart.

How to Create Flow Chart in Excel?

Let us create a simple purchase process flowchart in excel. Here, we can add symbols as follows.

  1. Let us first remove some gridlines to give the Flowchart a neat look. For this, select the cells where you want to remove the gridlines. Go to,

    Right-Click 🡪 Format Cells 🡪 Border.

    Flow Chart in Excel - create Step 1

  2. In the pop-up window, you can select the color “White” and click on Outside and Inside. Press OK.

    Flow Chart in Excel - create Step 2

  3. The space is blank. You can now start inserting the symbols.

    Go to Insert tab > Shapes > Flowchart > Terminator. Insert it in the Excel sheet. You can copy-paste it to get another one for the end of the process.

    Flow Chart in Excel - create Step 3

  4. Right-click on the first terminator. In the menu, choose “Edit Text.”

    Flow Chart in Excel - create Step 4

  5. Type the required text in the terminator. Here, we type “Start.” Then, we align the text to the center in the Alignment group.

    Flow Chart in Excel - create Step 5

  6. Repeat the same for the END terminator. Now, copy-paste three process rectangles which are different stages in the purchase. Go to,

    Insert tab > Shapes > Flowchart > Rectangle

    Flow Chart in Excel - create Step 6

  7. Insert two Data shapes, that is, parallelograms, from Insert tab > Shapes > Flowchart > Data.

    Flow Chart in Excel - create Step 7

  8. Finally, let us insert a Decision shape (diamond) and connect them according to the flow. Double-click on each shape and enter the details accordingly.

    Flow Chart in Excel - create Step 8

Thus, creating a basic flow chart in Excel is simple and consumes less time.


Let us look at a few examples to create a flowchart.

Example #1

Create Flow Chart using Shapes

Let us look at another flowchart indicating the different steps in a software project’s lifecycle. Again, we can make it look professional using Excel’s various features. 

Step 1:

  • First, select the cells in Excel which you want to be blank.
  • Right-click and choose Format Cells.
  • In the popup window, choose the color White under Borders and click on Outline and Inside.
Flow Chart in Excel Example 1 - Step 1

Step 2: Let us add the flowchart. Choose elements from the following location.

Insert tab > Shapes > Flowchart.

Flow Chart in Excel Example 1 - Step 2

Step 3: Let us choose the terminator for the beginning and end of the flowchart.

Flow Chart in Excel Example 1 - Step 3

Step 4: Add the rest of the elements required for the chart and the connectors. Arrange them according to the process flow.

Flow Chart in Excel Example 1 - Step 4

Step 5: Start adding the relevant text involved in the flow of the process by clicking on each element. You can add the “Yes’ or “No” of the decision-making chart using the Text Box option in Shapes.

Flow Chart in Excel Example 1 - Step 5

Step 6: The final flow chart is as below.

Flow Chart in Excel Example 1 - Step 6

Step 7: We can add some design elements and re-design the chart for a better look. Select all the elements and under the “Shape Format” tab, click on “Shape Effects” and choose the desired effect.

Flow Chart in Excel Example 1 - Step 7

Step 8: Apply it to the elements. You can right-click on each component. Choose “Fill” and choose your required color.

Flow Chart in Excel Example 1 - Step 8

Step 9: You get a beautiful flow chart in Excel, as shown.

Flow Chart in Excel Example 1 - Step 9

Example #2

Create Business Flow Chart Using Smart Arts

In the earlier example, we used the shapes in Illustrations to create flowcharts. Now, let us try to insert flow chart in Excel using SmartArt. For instance, an organization is taking up a project. The Manager must enlist the processes to be followed in a flowchart to complete the process successfully.

Step 1: Go to the following location.


Flow Chart in Excel Example 2 - Step 1.jpg

Step 2: Under the SmartArt, select “Cycle.” We have several pre-defined templates which make our job much more manageable. Choose the “Basic Cycle” which is needed for our project.

Flow Chart in Excel Example 2 - Step 2

Step 3: We have a default flow chart on our worksheet.

Flow Chart in Excel Example 2 - Step 3

Step 4: Since these are predefined charts, they make our work easier. All we need to do is enter the text. However, my process has six steps. So to add another circle, choose one of the circles, right-click, and select the option “Add Shape.” Then, choose “Add Shape After.”

Flow Chart in Excel Example 2 - Step 4

Step 5: You get six circles. Start entering the relevant text in each. For this, you have to double-click on each shape and start typing.

Flow Chart in Excel Example 2 - Step 5

Step 6: Continue this for the rest of the steps.

Flow Chart in Excel Example 2 - Step 6

Thus, SmartArt provides you templates that can directly be used to create attractive and informative charts.

Example #3

Design Flow Chart Using Excel Smart Arts

Consider the above flowchart made using SmartArt.  Since the chart looks monotonous, you can change some of its features. Thus, you can use the Design tab for this purpose.

Step 1: To change its color, go to the “SmartArt Design” Tab and click “Change Colors.”

Flow Chart in Excel Example 3 - Step 1

Step 2: Choose a color palette you like. Notice how the chart changes and looks more attractive.

Flow Chart in Excel Example 3 - Step 2

Step 3: You can also change the flowchart style as shown below in the Design tab.

Flow Chart in Excel Example 3 - Step 3

You can also create a bubble flow chart in Excel the same way.

Example #4

Using Smart Art Graphic

As seen in the above two examples, a beautiful flowchart in Excel is simple and helps you understand organizational processes easily.

Let us look at another simple data flow chart in Excel by creating a grid.

Step 1: The column width should equal the row height to create a square grid. Select all the cells in the worksheet by clicking the box in the top-left corner of the worksheet grid.

Example 4 - Step 1

Step 2: Right-click on any column and choose “Column Width.”

Example 4 - Step 2

Step 3: Enter 2.14 in the dialog box and press OK.

Example 4 - Step 3

Step 4: You get a worksheet with a grid. Now, we need a flow chart describing Project Management’s stages. Let us opt for a template already predefined in SmartArt.

Go to Insert🡪Illustrations🡪SmartArt. In the window, choose Process🡪 Vertical Process.

Example 4 - Step 4

Step 5: You get a graph as shown below. We will add another rectangle as four processes are to be mentioned. Let us enter the text in the relevant squares.

Example 4 - Step 5

Step 6: Let us add appropriate colors. Now, we have a flow chart in Excel that represents project management in Excel.

Example 4 - Step 6

Interpretation and Uses

Flowcharts help turn ideas into actions to solve problems and are used by every organization. They help visualize any plan’s scope, stages, and sequence. Flowcharts can be quickly built within Excel in a few ways.

The primary way is through SmartArt graphics (Insert tab > Illustrations). You can also find these symbols in the Add-ins group of the Insert tab under Illustrations > Shapes. We have certain predefined symbols to be used in flowcharts. Let us look at what they are and how they are used.

  • Oval – It indicates the starting and ending point of a flow chart.
  • Rectangle – Represents a step in the process.
  • Diamond – Represents any decision-based action.
  • Arrows – These are used as connectors to show the flow and the relationship between the shapes.
  • Parallelogram – Represents data in a flowchart.

Important Things to Note

  • Each shape in a flowchart has a different function. We should use the appropriate shapes depending on the processes.
  • SmartArt graphics contain readymade templates for flowcharts, making them much easier to create.
  • In a flow chart in Excel, you can click on each shape and enter text in them.
  • Flowcharts are not an ultimate solution to process flow as they could change daily.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How to insert process flow chart in Excel?

A process flowchart in Excel can be created in two ways.

Using SmartArt Graphics: You can find several predefined flow charts in Excel at Insert > Illustrations > SmartArt
Using Flowchart shapes: They provide various figures for flowcharts at Insert > Illustrations > Shapes. These help you create some helpful flow charts for your business.

2. Why is flow chart in Excel not working?

Sometimes your Excel flowcharts will not work when Excel may have some issues, such as an updated software version. You could also have issues with SmartArt. In such cases, try restarting Excel and inserting the flowcharts.

3. How do I create an automated flow chart in Excel?

Automated flow charts can be created in Excel using the option SmartArt in the following location:
Insert tab > Illustrations > SmartArt
This contains several automated flowcharts where you can choose one based on your type of project and insert the necessary data.

Download Template

This article must help understand the Flow Chart in Excel, with its formula and examples. We can download the template here to use it instantly.

Guide to Flow Chart in Excel. Here we explain how to create it, its interpretations, and examples along with downloadable excel template. You may learn more from the following articles –

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