Flowchart Tutorial: Types, Symbols, and How to Make One

Discover flowcharts as versatile tools for visualizing processes, algorithms, and workflows, enhancing communication and decision-making across diverse fields.

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Flowchart detail guide

In the complex technological world, it is important to understand how the process happens and how you can make it better. Flowchart is the magic tool that explains to you the complex processes more easily and smartly. Whether you're at work or in school, flowcharts are like your trusty sidekick for facilitating effective communication and comprehension, especially when processes get more complex.

This article explains ideas like what is a flowchart and why it is an important tool in areas like managing projects, computer programming, and and problem-solving. It also explores different types of flowcharts, the creation process along with the symbols used in the process.

In this article
  1. Difinition and histoty of Flowchart?
  2. Flowcharts for Computer Programming/Algorithms
  3. What are the Other Scenarios to Use a Flowchart?
  4. Flowchart Symbols
  5. Types of Flowcharts
  6. How to Create a Flowchart?
  7. Tools and Software for Flowchart Creation
  8. Tips for Effective Flowcharting
  9. Flowchart Resources

Part 1. Difinition and histoty of Flowchart?

A flowchart is a graphical representation of a system, method, or process that uses arrows and standardized symbols to show the decision points and step sequence. It is used as a visual tool to map out complex procedures, making it possible to show how information or tasks go from one stage to the next understandably and clearly.

Flowcharts are extensively used in various industries, including problem-solving, software development, project management, and business procedures to explain complex workflows in an easy-to-understand and systematic way.

They provide a visual roadmap that facilitates professionals in process analysis, optimization, and documentation, promoting effective problem-solving and communication inside businesses.

The history of the flowchart can be traced back to the early 20th century, with its roots in engineering and industrial processes. In 1921, industrial engineering and efficiency management pioneers Frank and Lillian Gilbreth developed the idea of process charts. These diagrams showed the factory workflow and were the forerunners of contemporary flowcharts.

Allan H. Mogensen further explored visualizing labor processes in the 1930s and 1940s. "Flow process charts" were first proposed by American industrial engineer Mogensen as a method for more thorough and organized workflow documentation and analysis.

With the development of computer programming in the middle of the 20th century, flowcharts became a common representational tool for program structures and algorithms. Computer scientists and programmers used flowcharts to create and record software processes, which helped standardize conventions and symbols.

ANSI/ISO Standard 5807 for Flowchart Symbols, published by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in the 1970s, codified flowchart symbols. A common language for designing and comprehending flowcharts across a range of sectors was established with the aid of this standardization.

Part 2. Flowcharts for Computer Programming/Algorithms

Flowcharts are widely used in computer programming and algorithm design to represent a program or algorithm's logic visually. They can be used to:

  • Plan and design algorithms: Flowcharts can be used to plan and design algorithms before they are written in code. This can help ensure that the algorithms are clear, efficient, and correct.
  • Document algorithms: Flowcharts can be used to document algorithms, making them easier to understand and maintain.
  • Communicate algorithms: Flowcharts can communicate algorithms to others, making collaboration easier.
  • Troubleshoot algorithms: Flowcharts can be used to troubleshoot algorithms by identifying and correcting errors.

Flowcharts are valuable for understanding, documenting, and communicating computer programs and algorithms. They are also used to troubleshoot problems and improve the efficiency of algorithms.

Part 3. What are the Other Scenarios to Use a Flowchart?

Flowcharts come in handy in several situations, such as the following:

what is a flowchart used for
  • Standardise processes: Flowcharts aid in standardizing processes by visually representing known procedures. This is especially helpful for maintaining operational consistency and quality control.
  • Identify and eliminate bottlenecks: Flowcharts show possible bottlenecks and inefficient parts of a process. Task flow visualization clarifies where delays or resource shortages could arise, allowing for proactive problem-solving.
  • Visualize complicated ideas or processes: A flowchart makes understanding easier when working with complex or diverse procedures. It simplifies complex ideas into easily understandable parts, assisting both producers and viewers in understanding the whole framework.
  • Make and defend your decisions: Flowcharts let you plot possible outcomes and assess the effects of various options when presented with decision points. This visual aid can help understand the ramifications and weigh possibilities when making decisions.
  • Monitor a project's development: Flowcharts, which list activities, dependencies, and milestones, are useful project management tools. This graphic depiction facilitates communication of project status to stakeholders, progress tracking, and delay identification.
  • Process documentation: Flowcharts outline and visualize a process's steps. A flowchart offers an understandable and organized depiction of any process, be it a software program, a manufacturing process, or a business procedure.

Part 4. Flowchart Symbols

Let's explore some of the most frequently utilized flowchart symbols and their definitions and names.

flowchart creation symbols
  • Flowline: Linking two blocks together, the flowline shows the direction of the process and directs the steps that follow in order.
  • Terminator: The terminal symbol indicates the beginning or finish of a process in a flowchart and the start and stop points.
  • Process: A common symbol in flowcharts, the process symbol denotes a crucial stage in the procedure.
  • Comment or Annotation: The comment or annotation symbol provides more context, allowing for more details about a particular phase.
symbols used for flowchart creation
  • Decision: The decision symbol denotes crucial decisions in the process, capturing true/false or yes/no decisions that determine the course of action.
  • Stored data: This element denotes the storage or retrieval of information and is a symbol for data files or databases.
  • "Or" Symbol: This denotes processes that continue in three or more branches and shows branching pathways in the flow.
  • Input/Output: The input/output sign indicates the process of data entering or leaving by showing the transfer of external data.
flowchart creation process symbols
  • Off-Page connector: Signifying the continuation of the process beyond a single page, the off-page connector bridges symbols on other pages.
  • On-Page connector: The dot connector reduces clutter and streamlines the flowchart structure by connecting symbols on the same page.
  • Summoning junction symbol: The summoning junction symbol unites many routes by merging several branches into a single procedure.
  • Predefined process: This symbol points to a referenced and established procedure already defined elsewhere.
symbols to create flowcharts
  • Display: The display symbol highlights the presentation of relevant data and denotes a stage that highlights significant information.
  • Document: This symbol, for a single document, highlights a particular written or digital record.
  • Delay: To account for temporal gaps in the process, the delay indicates and schedules for brief intervals of inactivity.
  • Manual input: The manual input sign emphasizes manual participation when transmitting data or information that must be entered into a system by hand.
symbols for flowchart creation
  • Multiple documents: This aspect emphasizes the management of several written or digital records by symbolizing the presence of numerous documents.
  • Preparation or initialization: This symbol denotes the beginning of the process and identifies a step that must be taken before moving on to the next in the sequence.

Part 5. Types of Flowcharts

Here are the most common types of flowcharts and their uses:

five-types-of-flowcharts
  • System flowchart: A system flowchart shows how different system parts work together. It is used to understand a system's overall flow of information and data.
  • Logic flowchart: A logic flowchart is a type of flowchart that shows the different steps in a logical process. It illustrates how different decisions and actions lead to different outcomes.
  • Product flowchart: A product flowchart shows the different product development steps. It is used to understand the product development process and identify potential problems or bottlenecks.
  • Decision flowchart: A decision flowchart is a type of flowchart that helps people make decisions. It shows the different steps in a decision-making process and the different possible outcomes.
  • Process flowchart: A process flowchart shows the different steps in a process. It documents the process, understands how it works, and identifies potential problems or bottlenecks.

Flowcharts can be used in various fields, including business, education, engineering, and healthcare. They are a valuable tool for communicating complex ideas and processes.

Part 6. How to Create a Flowchart?

Flowcharts are visual representations of processes, algorithms, or workflows that use standardized symbols to depict steps, decisions, and other elements.

Step 1: Identify the purpose of the flowchart and the specific process or problem you want to visualize. This will help determine the level of detail and the symbols needed.

Step 2: Break down the process into individual steps, listing them chronologically. Consider using action verbs to describe each step.

Step 3: Select each step's appropriate flowchart symbols. Common symbols include rectangles for processes, diamonds for decisions, parallelograms for input/output, and ovals with lines through them for terminators.

Step 4: Start drawing the flowchart, connecting the symbols with arrows to indicate the flow of the process. Use a clear and consistent layout to enhance readability.

Step 5: Label each symbol with its corresponding step or decision. Add any necessary details, such as conditions for decisions or data inputs.

Step 6: Review the flowchart carefully to ensure it accurately represents the process and is easy to understand. Make any necessary adjustments or refinements.

Part 7. Tools and Software for Flowchart Creation

The creation of flowcharts can be aided by several tools and software packages, each having unique advantages and disadvantages. Here are some well-liked choices:

EdrawMax

EdrawMax is a powerful and versatile diagramming tool well-suited for creating flowcharts. It offers a wide range of flowchart templates and symbols, making it easy to get started and create professional-looking flowcharts.

EdrawMax also provides a user-friendly interface and advanced features, making it a good choice for beginners and experienced users.

Pros
  • Wide range of templates and symbols
  • User-friendly interface
  • Advanced features
Cons
  • It can be overwhelming for beginners

Draw.io

Draw.io, formerly known as Lucidchart, is a free and cloud-based flowcharting tool that is easy to use and provides basic features for creating flowcharts. It offers a simple interface and real-time collaboration features, making it a good choice for individuals and teams who need a quick and easy way to create flowcharts.

Pros
  • Free for basic use
  • Cloud-based
  • Real-time collaboration
Cons
  • Limited features compared to paid plans

Visio

Visio is a diagramming tool from Microsoft and is a part of Microsoft Office suite. It offers advanced features and customization options, making it a good choice for creating complex flowcharts. However, Visio may have a steeper learning curve than other flowcharting tools.

Pros
  • Advanced features
  • Customization options
  • Integration with Microsoft Office
Cons
  • Steeper learning curve

Part 8. Difinition and histoty of Flowchart?

Here are some useful tips for creating effective and easy-to-understand Flowcharts:

Clarity and Simplicity

Use clear and concise language, avoiding jargon or overly technical terms. Keep the flowchart simple and easy to follow, avoiding unnecessary details or clutter.

Consistent Style

Maintain a consistent style throughout the flowchart, including font size, color scheme, and symbol placement. This enhances readability and professionalism.

Logical Flow

Ensure the flow of the process is logical and easy to understand. Use arrows to indicate the direction of the process and avoid confusing or illogical connections.

Appropriate Symbols

Choose the appropriate symbols for each step or decision. Use standardized symbols to ensure consistency and avoid ambiguity.

Review and Feedback

Review the flowchart multiple times to identify any issues or areas for improvement. Seek feedback from others to gain different perspectives and ensure the flowchart is effective.

Part 9. Flowchart Resources

Here are some authoritative resources for learning about flowcharts:

  • EdrawMax flowchart tutorial: A comprehensive tutorial from EdrawMax covers the basics of flowcharting, including symbols, templates, and tips for creating effective flowcharts.
  • Lucidchart flowchart guide: A detailed guide from Lucidchart that provides an overview of flowcharts, different types, and how to create flowcharts using their platform.
  • Visio Help Center: A comprehensive help center from Microsoft that provides documentation, tutorials, and troubleshooting tips for using Visio to create flowcharts.
  • Slickplan flowchart guide: This site provides a comprehensive list of flowchart symbols with their meanings and examples.
  • Creatly flowchart examples: This website offers a collection of flowchart examples for various processes and workflows.

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Edraw Team
Edraw Team Apr 15, 24
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