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Simple Flowchart

Use a Spreadsheet to Make Flowcharts

Did you know that you can create a flowchart with a spreadsheet? It’s true! You can absolutely build a flowchart with a spreadsheet.

Even though spreadsheets tend to be used to store and manipulate data, you really can use them for other things too.

Before we get into talking about how and why to build a flowchart with a spreadsheet, let’s first over what a flowchart is and what it is used for.

What is a Flowchart?

A flowchart is a diagram that depicts or maps out a specific process. In other words, it is a visual representation of a series of steps.

For example, you do this, then do that, make a decision, and then proceed in the right direction.

Flowcharts are useful because they allow you to visualize and look into the details of even the most complicated process.

What Does a Flowchart Look Like?

A flowchart is a diagram made up of shapes and arrows.

The arrows represent different paths or directions that you go through in a process. The shapes represent different stopping points along the way.

The best way to show this is with an actual flowchart example.

Grocery Shopping Flowchart

As you can see, this flowchart shows the steps you experience when grocery shopping. In the example, we take a fairly tedious process (grocery shopping) and display it in a visual manner that is easy to follow and understand.

Using a Spreadsheet

Now that we’ve covered what a flowchart is, let’s go over how you can create one with a spreadsheet.

Flowcharts are pretty easy to build because you just need to draw arrows and connect them to shapes. That’s pretty easy to do.

Now the only question is, where do we get or find these shapes to use in the first place?

Well…these shapes are actually built right into your Excel workbook. You just have to navigate to the “Insert” tab, click on the “Shapes” button, and now you have all the tools you need to build a flowchart.

How to insert shapes in Excel

When you click on the “Shapes” button, you have all the arrows you could ever need right below where it says “Lines.”

How to insert lines in Excel

But wait. It gets better!

Shift your gaze down 3 inches or so and boom! It’s labeled “Flowchart.”

Under this category of shapes you have all the shapes you would ever need to build a flowchart. What’s more, as you hover your mouse over each shape, you will see that the shape is named according to its use.

How to insert flowchart shapes in Excel

So now you don’t need to Google what a diamond represents within a flowchart. You just open your spreadsheet, point your mouse, and it is very easy to see that a diamond represents a decision.

How awesome is that?

Why Build a Flowchart Anyway?

Now that you know what a flowchart is and how you can build one using a spreadsheet, all that’s left is to explain why building a flowchart is a good idea in the first place.

Flowcharts help you visualize and map out complicated steps and convoluted processes. If you are trying to solve a problem or trying to design some sort of system, a flowchart is a wonderful tool to use.

This means that within your spreadsheet is a built-in tool to help with the design of all sorts of systems or processes. You could say that this is just one of the many hidden powers of spreadsheets.

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