Flowchart Shapes: A Comprehensive Guide

Friday, October 20th 2023. | Chart Templates
Flowchart design. Flowchart symbols, shapes, stencils and icons
Flowchart design. Flowchart symbols, shapes, stencils and icons from www.conceptdraw.com

Flowcharts are an essential tool for visualizing processes and creating efficient workflows. They are commonly used in various fields, such as software development, project management, and business analysis. To create a flowchart, you need to understand the different flowchart shapes and their meanings. In this article, we will explore the most commonly used flowchart shapes and their functions.

The Basic Flowchart Shapes

1. Start/End Symbol

The start/end symbol is represented by an oval shape. It indicates the beginning or end of a process. Typically, the word “Start” or “End” is written inside the oval shape to clarify its purpose. This symbol is used at the start and end of a flowchart.

2. Process Symbol

The process symbol is represented by a rectangle. It represents a specific action or operation within the process. The description of the action should be written inside the rectangle. This symbol is used to describe the main steps of the process.

3. Decision Symbol

The decision symbol is represented by a diamond shape. It represents a decision point in the process where a yes/no or true/false question is asked. The question is written inside the diamond shape, and the flow is determined based on the answer. If the answer is yes, the flow will follow one path; if the answer is no, it will follow another path.

4. Connector Symbol

The connector symbol is represented by a small circle. It is used to connect different parts of the flowchart. It helps to avoid clutter and makes the flowchart more readable. The connector symbol is often used when the flowchart becomes too complex, and it needs to be divided into multiple pages or sections.

5. Input/Output Symbol

The input/output symbol is represented by a parallelogram. It represents the input or output of data in the process. The description of the input or output should be written inside the parallelogram. This symbol is used to indicate where data is entered into the process or where the result of the process is generated.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Flowchart Shapes

1. How do I choose the right flowchart shape for my process?

Choosing the right flowchart shape depends on the specific action or decision point in your process. If you have a step or operation, use the process symbol. If you have a decision point, use the decision symbol. If you need to connect different parts of the flowchart, use the connector symbol. If you have input or output of data, use the input/output symbol.

2. Can I use other shapes in a flowchart?

Yes, you can use other shapes in a flowchart if they make sense in your specific process. However, it is important to keep the flowchart simple and easy to understand. Using too many different shapes can confuse the reader and make the flowchart less effective.

3. Are there any standard conventions for flowchart shapes?

Yes, there are standard conventions for flowchart shapes. The shapes we discussed in this article are the most commonly used and widely accepted. However, different organizations or industries may have their own conventions or symbols. It is important to follow the conventions used in your specific context to ensure clarity and understanding.

4. Can I create a flowchart using software?

Yes, there are various software tools available that allow you to create flowcharts easily. Some popular options include Microsoft Visio, Lucidchart, and draw.io. These tools provide a wide range of shapes and symbols, making it easy to create professional-looking flowcharts.

5. How can flowcharts improve my workflow?

Flowcharts can improve your workflow by providing a visual representation of the process. They help you identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and areas that can be optimized. Flowcharts also make it easier to communicate and collaborate with team members, as everyone can understand the process at a glance.

6. Are flowcharts only used in business settings?

No, flowcharts are not limited to business settings. They can be used in various fields and industries, such as software development, project management, healthcare, education, and manufacturing. Flowcharts are a versatile tool that can be applied to any process that involves a series of steps or decisions.

7. Can I use colors in my flowchart?

Yes, you can use colors in your flowchart to enhance readability and understanding. However, it is important to use colors strategically and consistently. Use colors to differentiate between different parts of the flowchart or to highlight important information. Avoid using too many colors, as it can create clutter and confusion.

8. How do I know if my flowchart is effective?

An effective flowchart is one that is easy to understand, visually appealing, and accurately represents the process. To ensure the effectiveness of your flowchart, test it with different individuals who are familiar with the process. Ask for their feedback and make revisions accordingly. Keep refining your flowchart until it is clear and intuitive.

9. Are there any best practices for creating flowcharts?

Yes, there are several best practices for creating flowcharts. Here are a few tips: – Keep the flowchart simple and easy to understand – Use clear and concise descriptions for each shape – Use arrows to indicate the flow of the process – Organize the flowchart from left to right or top to bottom – Use consistent spacing and alignment – Test the flowchart with others to ensure clarity and understanding

10. Where can I find more resources on flowchart shapes?

There are many online resources available that provide additional information and examples of flowchart shapes. Some popular websites include Lucidchart, SmartDraw, and Creately. These websites offer templates, tutorials, and examples to help you create effective flowcharts.


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