How to Create a Microsoft Word Flowchart

Manage workflow or build an org chart

What to Know

  • Draw a canvas (Insert > Shapes > New Drawing Canvas). Add shapes (Insert > Shapes). Drag around to organize. Double-click to add text.
  • SmartArt: Go to Insert > Illustrations > SmartArt. Choose Process to view styles. Select new shapes from Add Shape drop-down menu.
  • You can also download flowchart templates from places like HubSpot and, or install a flowchart maker add-in for Word.

A flowchart is a visual representation of the steps or order involved in a process, workflow, or another organization chart. In this guide, we show you how to use shapes to create a flowchart in a Microsoft Word document, as well as how to use pre-designed SmartArt graphics, and how to use flowchart makers and templates. Instructions apply to Word for Microsoft 365, Word 2019, Word 2016, and Word 2013.

Use Shapes to Create a Flowchart in Word

To create a flowchart from scratch, start with a drawing canvas, then add shapes to it, change the color and outline of the shapes, label the shapes, and draw connecting lines between the shapes to show their relationship to each other.

Create the Drawing Canvas

A drawing canvas acts as a frame around the flowchart shapes and groups the shapes as one object. This way, the text flows around the flowchart and the shapes stay in the position you intended.

To add a drawing canvas to a Word document and change the way it looks:

  1. Select the location in the Word document where the drawing canvas will be located.

    Selecting a place in a Word document to place a drawing canvas for a flowchart
  2. Go to the Insert tab and select Shapes > New Drawing Canvas to add a drawing canvas to the document.

    The Insert tab in Word selecting shape to create a drawing canvas
  3. To change the way text flows around the drawing canvas, select the drawing canvas, go to the Shape Format tab, and select Wrap Text.

    Selecting Wrap Text.
  4. Choose how the text will wrap around the drawing canvas. For example, choose Top and Bottom to prevent text from appearing along the sides of the canvas.

    Wrapping text around a drawing canvas in Microsoft Word
  5. To change the size of the drawing canvas, drag a corner or side resize handle to make the drawing canvas smaller or larger.

    To make the drawing canvas a specific size, select the shape, go to the Shape Format tab and, in the Size group, enter values for the Shape Height and Shape Width.

    A drawing canvas that will contain a flowchart in Word
  6. To add a border, select the drawing canvas, go to the Shape Format tab, and select Shape Outline.

    Selecting Shape Outline.
  7. In the Color palette, choose an outline color, select Weight to change the line thickness, and select Dashes to change the line style.

    The Word Shape Format tab to change the shape outline for the flowchart drawing canvas
  8. When the drawing canvas looks the way you want, start adding shapes.

A flow chart above programming language
porcorex/Getty Images

Add Shapes to the Drawing Canvas

Before you add shapes to the drawing canvas, make a sketch of the flowchart. This will give you a plan to follow as you design the flowchart in Word.

To add shapes to the drawing canvas:

  1. Go to the Insert tab and select Shapes.

    Microsoft Word with a blank drawing canvas for a flowchart
  2. Go to the Flowchart section and select a shape. For example, select the Process shape as the beginning point of the flowchart.

    The Word Insert tab to select shapes to create a flowchart
  3. Select a location on the drawing canvas to place the shape. A shape with a default size and color is drawn on the canvas.

    A flowchart added to a drawing canvas in Microsoft Word
  4. Add other shapes to complete the flowchart.

    Flowchart shapes arranged on a Word drawing canvas
  5. If you don’t like the way the shapes look, resize them or go to the Shape Format tab to change the fill color, add an outline color, apply a shape style, or apply a shape effect.

Add Text to Shapes

Flowchart shapes need text that briefly describes the purpose of each step in the process.

To add text to shapes:

  1. Double-click the shape.

  2. Enter descriptive text that explains the purpose or job of the shape.

    Entering in text into a shape.
  3. Select a blank area of the drawing canvas when you finish typing.

    Text added to flowchart shapes in Word
  4. To format text in a shape, select the shape, go to the Home tab, and change the font color, font style, and font size.

    The Word Home tab showing the font formatting options to change the look of text in a shape
  5. To apply the same text formatting to every shape, select an area of the drawing canvas and press Ctrl+A to select all shapes. Then, change the look of the text.

Add Connectors Between Shapes

Draw lines, or connectors, between shapes to show the relationship between the them. Connectors have connection points at each end of the line that stays connected to the shapes it’s attached to. These lines are only connected to shapes that have dots on the shape outline.

In Word, connection points only work when the shapes and lines are placed on a drawing canvas.

To draw connecting lines between shapes:

  1. Go to the Insert tab and select Shapes.

    The Shapes menu.
  2. In the Lines section, select a line shape to use as a connector between shapes.

    The Word Insert menu showing available connector line styles for a flowchart
  3. Drag from one shape to another shape. As you drag from one shape to another, dots appear on the outline of the two shapes. These dots indicate where a connector line can be attached.

    A flowchart in Word showing how to draw a connector line
  4. Continue to add lines until all the shapes are connected.

  5. To move a line, select the line, then drag an endpoint.

    A flowchart created in Word with built-in shapes and lines
  6. To move a connected shape, select the shape and drag it to a different place. The lines that are connected to the dots on the shape stay attached to the shape.

    Moving a shape and its connected lines in a Word flowchart
  7. To change the look of lines, select the lines you want to change, go to the Shape Format tab, select Shape Outline, then choose a line color, thickness, and style. 

    Selecting Shape Outline.

Use SmartArt to Create a Flowchart in Word

If you want a flowchart with some graphical appeal, create it with SmartArt. Some of the built-in SmartArt graphics are like a flowchart template for Word. To add a SmartArt graphic to a Word document, choose a SmartArt style, change the number of shapes, add your text, and changes the look of the SmartArt.

Select a SmartArt Graphic

To add a SmartArt graphic to a Word document:

  1. Place the cursor where you want to insert the SmartArt graphic.

  2. Go to the Insert tab.

    The Insert tab in Microsoft Word.
  3. In the Illustrations group, select SmartArt.

    If you don’t see the SmartArt icon, go to the Search box and enter SmartArt.

    The Word Insert tab with the SmartArt icon selected
  4. In the Choose a SmartArt Graphic dialog box, select Process to view the available flowchart styles.

    Selecting Process.
  5. Choose a flowchart style, then select OK.

    The available flowchart SmartArt graphics in Word
  6. The SmartArt graphic appears in the Word document.

Add Shapes to a SmartArt Flowchart

If there aren’t enough shapes in the SmartArt graphic for your flowchart, add more shapes.

To add a new shape:

  1. Select a shape at the location where you want to add the new shape.

    A SmartArt flowchart graphic in Microsoft Word
  2. Go to the SmartArt Design tab, then select the Add Shape dropdown arrow.

    Selecting Add Shape.
  3. Choose in which direction the new shape will be added.

    Add shapes to a SmartArt graphic flowchart in Word
  4. After you’ve added all the SmartArt shapes that you’ll need for your flowchart, add descriptive text.

Add Text to a SmartArt Graphic

To add text to the shapes in a SmartArt flowchart:

  1. Select the arrow on the left side of the SmartArt graphic.

    Add text to a SmartArt graphic flowchart in Word
  2. In the Text Pane, enter the text for each shape.

    To add a new bullet point to a shape, press Enter after the line of text.

    A completed SmartArt graphic flowchart in Microsoft Word
  3. Close the Text Pane when you’re finished.

Change the Look of SmartArt Flowchart

There are several ways to make your SmartArt flowchart look different. Experiment with different colors, add images and move shapes to different locations.

  • To change the color of the SmartArt shapes, select the shapes, go to the SmartArt Design tab, select Change Colors, and choose a color combination.
  • Some SmartArt graphics have space for images. To add a picture, select the Picture icon on a shape, then choose to either insert a picture From a File on your computer, browse for Online Pictures from sources such as Bing and OneDrive, or add a picture From Icons stored in Word or on your computer.
  • To move a shape, select the shape, go to the SmartArt Design tab, and choose either Move Selection Up or Move Selection Down.

If you don’t like the changes you made to a SmartArt graphic, go to the SmartArt Design tab and select Reset Graphic

Find a Flowchart Maker or Flowchart Templates for Word

You’re not limited to the tools found in Word to make a flowchart. There are several Word add-ins and free templates that will get you started quickly.

Download Free Flowchart Templates

If you want a basic flowchart that will get you started, go to HubSpot and download their free flowchart template for Word.

You’ll find more detailed flowchart templates at Template.Net. There are flowchart templates for process flows, organizational charts, accident reporting, and yes or no type charts.

To use these flowchart templates, download the template to your computer, open the document in Word, and make changes to the shapes and text to fit your needs.

Install a Word Flowchart Maker Add-in

You’ll also find flowchart makers in the Microsoft Office Store.

To install a flowchart maker add-in for Word:

  1. Go to the Insert tab.

    The Insert Tab.
  2. In the Add-ins group, select Get Add-ins.

    The Word Insert tab showing where to find Word add-ins
  3. In the Office Add-ins page, go to the Search text box, enter flowchart, and press Enter.

    Searching for flowchart.
  4. Select one of the available flowchart makers.

  5. To install the add-in, select Add.

    The Office Add-ins store showing flowchart add-ins for Word
  6. After the add-in installs, it opens in a pane on the right side of Word.

    The flowchart maker add-in may require you to log in to use its online flow chart creator service.

  7. When you’re finished using the add-in, select Close.

    An add-in for Microsoft Word that is open in the right pane
  8. If you want to use the add-in again, go to Insert > Add-ins > My Add-ins.

    My Add-ins in Microsoft Word.
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