How to Find and Use Excel's Free Flowchart Templates

Screenshot of Excel's flowchart template


A flowchart shows graphically the steps that need to be followed to achieve a specific result, such as the steps to follow when assembling a product or setting up a website. Flowcharts can be created online or they can be created using a spreadsheet program, like Microsoft Excel.

Microsoft has a large number of Excel templates available online that make it easy to quickly create a good-looking and functional worksheet for any number of purposes. The templates are organized by categories and one such category is flowcharts.

This group of templates is conveniently stored together in a single workbook with each type of flowchart – such as mind map, website, and decision tree – located on a separate sheet. It is easy therefore to switch between the templates until you find the right one and, if you create a number of different flowcharts, they can all be kept together in a single file if so desired.

Opening the Flowchart Template Workbook

Excel's templates are found by opening a new workbook through the File menu option. The templates option is not available if a new workbook is opened using the quick access toolbar shortcut or by using the keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+N.

To access Excel's templates:

  1. Open Excel.

  2. Click on File > New in the menus to open access the template window.

  3. A number of popular templates are displayed in the view pane, if the flowcharts template is not present, type "flowcharts" in the Search for online templates search box.

  4. Excel should return the Flowcharts template workbook.

  5. Click once on the Flowcharts workbook icon in the view pane.

  6. Click the Create button in the Flowcharts window to open the Flowchart template.

  7. The different types of flowcharts that are available are listed on the sheet tabs at the bottom of the Excel screen.

Using the Flowchart Templates

All of the templates in the workbook contain a sample flowchart to help you get started.

The different shapes present in a flowchart are used for specific purposes. For example, the rectangle – usually the most common shape – is used to show an action or operation while the diamond shape is for decision making.

Information on the different shapes and how they are used can be found in this article on basic flowchart symbols.

  • To modify the sample flowchart: Click on the individual boxes and replacing the sample text with your own.
  • To extend the sample flowchart: Add shapes to the spreadsheet and join these shapes together with the connector lines.

Adding Flowchart Shapes and Connectors

The templates in the workbook were created in Excel, so all of the shapes and connectors found in the samples are readily available when changing or expanding a flowchart.

These shapes and connectors are located using the Shapes icon located on the Insert and Format tabs of the ribbon.

The Format tab, which is added to the ribbon whenever drawings shapes, connectors, or WordArt are added to a worksheet, is made accessible by clicking on an existing shape in the worksheet.

To Add Flow Shapes

  1. Click on the Insert tab of the ribbon;

  2. Click on a Shapes icon on the ribbon to open the drop-down menu;

  3. Click on the desired shape in the Flowchart section of the drop-down list – the mouse pointer should change to a black "plus sign" ( + ).

  4. In the worksheet, click and drag with the plus sign. The chosen shape is added to the spreadsheet. Continue to drag to make the shape larger.

To Add Flow Connectors in Excel

  1. Click on the Insert tab of the ribbon.

  2. Click on the Shapes icon on the ribbon to open the drop-down list.

  3. Click on the desired line connector in the Lines section of the drop-down list – the mouse pointer should change to a black "plus sign" ( + ).

  4. In the worksheet, click and drag with the plus sign to add the connector between two flow shapes.

Another and a sometimes easier option is to use copy and paste to duplicate the existing shapes and lines in the flowchart template.

Formatting the Flow Shapes and Connectors

As mentioned, when a shape or connector is added to a worksheet, Excel adds a new tab to the ribbon – the Format tab.

This tab contains a variety of options that can be used to change the appearance – such as fill color and line thickness – of the shapes and connectors used in the flowchart.