Using SmartArt for Simple Flowcharts
Learn how to use SmartArt to quickly create simple Flowcharts.
Author: Geetesh Bajaj
Product/Version: PowerPoint 2013
OS: Microsoft Windows 8 / 7
While you can create flowcharts of all types in Microsoft Office applications quite easily using techniques explained in our Basic Flowcharts in Microsoft Office tutorial, there are ways in which you can create linear, non-branched flowcharts even more easily with just one click! These one-click flowcharts let you convert a bulleted list to a flowchart in an instant using the SmartArt diagramming feature. Before we proceed further, let us tell you that these SmartArt flowcharts are only useful for very simple concepts – they also have several limitations:
- The techniques explained on this page only work within PowerPoint – however, once
you create a flowchart using the steps explained, it’s easy to copy it and paste it
within Word or Excel.
- There’s no option to create one-to-multiple or multiple-to-one branches within
- You also cannot connect the last shape on your flowchart to the first shape
and create a loop.
Before we proceed, a few words about SmartArt. SmartArt is a diagramming component
that’s included in Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
– using SmartArt, you can create logical diagrams such as organization charts, process
flows, list and cycle diagrams, matrixes, and more. On the Insert tab
of the Ribbon, you will find SmartArt button, as
shown highlighted in red within Figure 1.
Figure 1: SmartArt button
However, for this tutorial, we will not use this button since that adds an extra step to the whole flowchart creation process – our process which works only within PowerPoint is even easier:
- Make sure that the text meant for your entire flowchart is populated as a
bulleted list. Figure 2
shows a bulleted list with 10 steps.
Figure 2: Bulleted list with 10 steps
- Select the entire bulleted list and right-click to bring up the contextual menu
shown in Figure 3, below – from this menu, select the
Convert to SmartArt option as shown highlighted in red within
Figure 3: Convert to SmartArt option selected
- This opens a flyout gallery populated with SmartArt thumbnail previews.
Since none of the options shown look similar to a flowchart, select the
More SmartArt Graphics option (highlighted in blue within
Figure 3, above) to explore more SmartArt types. This opens
the Choose a SmartArt Graphic dialog box, as shown in
Figure 4: Choose a SmartArt Graphic dialog box
- Within the Choose a SmartArt Graphic dialog box, select the
Process category in the sidebar (highlighted in red within
Figure 4, above). From the SmartArt graphic variants available
within Process category, you choose from one of the three
Bending Process graphics (highlighted in blue within
Figure 4, above) -- these are the only ones suitable for
Select any one of these three Bending Process graphics --
and your bulleted list will convert to a SmartArt graphic. Figures 5,
6, and 7 below show you the flowcharts
created using the three Bending Process graphic variants.
Figure 5: Bulleted list converted into Basic Bending Process SmartArt
Figure 6: Repeating Bending Process SmartArt
Figure 7: Vertical Bending Process SmartArt
- As you can see in Figures 5, 6 and
7 above, all shapes use a single color. If you want, you
can change colors of the individual flowchart shapes. To do so, select
your entire SmartArt graphic. Then access the SmartArt Tools Design
tab of the Ribbon as shown highlighted in red within Figure 8
-- click the Change Colors button (highlighted in blue within
Figure 8). This opens the Change Colors drop-down
gallery, as shown in Figure 8.
Figure 8: Change Colors drop-down gallery
- Within the Change Colors drop-down gallery, choose the
color thumbnail preview of your choice and click on it to apply to the SmartArt.
This will change the colors of individual shapes within your SmartArt graphic,
as shown in Figure 9.
Figure 9: SmartArt with changed colors
Note: Your SmartArt may look different based upon the type and color thumbnail preview you have chosen. Also note that colors available within the Change Colors drop-down gallery may differ depending upon the Theme or template applied to your presentation.
- You can also change the actual shapes within a SmartArt graphic -- for instance
you may want to change the first and the last shapes to a Terminator
flowchart shape with a mere click or two! Follow the process in our
Change Shapes within a SmartArt Graphic in PowerPoint 2010 tutorial – although the
linked tutorial pertains to PowerPoint 2010, the techniques are identical in PowerPoint 2013.
Note: Want to know more about all the flowchart shapes? Look at our Flowchart Symbols: What They Represent? page.
- The finished SmartArt graphic can be used within your PowerPoint slide -- or can
be easily copied and then pasted into another Microsoft Office application such as
Word or Excel.
- Save your document often.
See Also: Using SmartArt for Simple Flowcharts in Office 2011 for Mac
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