Which MS Office program is best for creating flow-charts?

On Friday my boss gave me a piece of paper with a big, icky flowchart scrawled on it and told me to make it pretty.

Most of the boxes on the chart will contain a lot of information - bulleted lists, etc. The arrows pointing between the boxes will have accompanying text above or below them. The structure would not fit conveniently into an org-chat template - there are too many arrows and too much information in the boxes, and I’m having trouble manipulating the org chart template (Powerpoint) to make it do what I want.

I’ve already asked everyone in my office with a clue. No one can help me.

Do I a) do it in MS Word? I could make the flow-chart boxes into text boxes and line-draw the arrows. But then how do I get the text near the arrows?
b) wrestle with the org chart template in Powerpoint and hope for the best? Then I have the same problem of how to put the text near the arrows.
c) Attempt Excel? The lines on the spreadsheet might give me more control.
d) Open Microsoft Publisher? :eek: I don’t know the program very well at all.

I’ve opened all of these programs and done a Help search on “flowchart, flow-chart, chart, etc.” with no luck.

Mods, I apologize if this is in the wrong place. I promise not to start “manhatten (sic) is a nazi” Pit thread if y’all move it. :wink:

If you’re stuck with MS Office, use Word. To use text boxes as captions, you can show them without background colours and borders and just place them near the arrows. If you need to place them precisely, select the “Draw” menu from within the drawing toolbar, then select “Grid” and in the pop-up box make sure “Snap to Grid” is unchecked.

Excel isn’t really much cop for drawing and I’ve never liked using PowerPoint – I find the org chart utility worse than useless.

The only other alternatives are to see whether you have access to a more dedicated program such as Visio or FlowCharter. This are a lot better for org charts, although neither are perfect and you may feel uncomfortable picking them up from scratch.

Thank you, thank you, thank you! The idea about the invisible text-boxes is perfect. If we ever meet at a Dopefest, I will buy you at least one drink.

What does the “Grid” thingy do? Well, I guess I’ll see.

Truly this is an evil project.

P.S. If I had a program like FlowCharter, I would not be asking this question. I know a bit of Visio, unfortunately it’s not available.

“Snap to Grid” forces all lines, text boxes and other drawing objects to ‘stick’ to a grid (although you can define the size of the grid squares). It’s good for drawing simple, regular things, but not very good for complicated drawings.

FlowCharter is actually a pretty poor program; I have to use it for work, but I find it about as easy to use Word most of the time.

Don’t forget that you can also use the “bring to front” and “send to back” commands. If you imagine the drawing as a series of layers, where each layer is one particular drawing object, it lets you change the order in which they appear (so you could have an opaque text box superimposed over a line).

I don’t know if its the best, but if it was me, I’d give it a shot with MS Paint.


If your version of Office include Visio, then use that. I think that only comes with Office 2000 Professional though.

I know that it’s not at all what the program should be used for, but I prefer to use AutoCAD Release 14 for my flowcharts. That way you can finaggle everything around just the way you want it. It’s the best program I’ve found for making flowcharts. It beats the Microsoft Office Package by a long shot.

Between Excel and Word, I think the better choice is Excel. In Excel, you can move the boxes around and it automatically maintains the lines you’ve drawn between them. Word (at least Word 97) does not maintain the lines.

MS Paint is not a good idea here because it doesn’t treat anything as an object, just bits. This makes it really hard to move things around.

I would use PowerPoint. PPT would be the easiest Office App in which to create them from scratch - you can use the blank slide layout, then use the flowchart symbols from the Autoshapes menu. It’s WYSIWYG, so you don’t have to worry about how it prints, like you would in Word. Hold down the shift key while you draw lines to ensure that they’re straight.

Older versions of PPT even had flowchart.ppt sample files, with all the flowchart symbols already in them. I believe if you search in the free download section of the microsoft website, you may still be able to download the old sample files, which will still open in newer versions of PPT.

And I’m not just saying this b/c I’ve been a PowerPoint tester for the last several years. <g>