Make smarter organization charts with Visio

Applies to
Microsoft Office Visio® 2003

Even as you create an up-to-the-minute organization chart today, you know it will be obsolete tomorrow. But you can set up your organization charts so they are fast and easy to revise.

Organization chart diagram

You can also turn organization charts into dynamic communication and management tools by storing data in the shapes, such as department or telephone number, or even protected confidential information about employees, such as salary or start date, behind the scenes.

This article describes how to:

And provides:

Make your organization chart easy to revise

There are two keys to creating an organization chart that is easy to revise in the future:

  • Create your organization chart using the Organization Chart template, a set of specially designed shapes, wizards, and other tools.
  • Let the Organization Chart template automatically draw the connectors that establish the reporting relationships in your organization chart.

To open the Organization Chart template, on the File menu, point to New, point to Organization Chart, and then click Organization Chart.

Drag Manager shape onto Executive shape

To automatically establish a reporting relationship, drag a shape from the Organization Chart Shapes stencil and drop it directly onto the shape that represents the position it reports to.

To create an organization chart

  1. From the Organization Chart Shapes stencil, drag the Executive shape onto the drawing page.

You see a demo of how to quickly add subordinate positions.

  1. With the Executive shape selected, type the executive's name. Press the ENTER key, type the executive's title, and then click anywhere outside the shape.
  2. Drag a Manager shape directly onto the Executive shape to establish a reporting relationship. Type a name and title for the new manager. Repeat until you've added all of the managers you want.
  3. Drag a Position shape directly onto a Manager shape to establish a reporting relationship. Add a name and title for the new position. Repeat until you've added all the positions you want.
  4. If you need more reporting levels, drag Staff shapes directly onto Position shapes to establish reporting relationships. With a Staff shape selected, type the name of the staff member.
  5. If you want to change the layout of the subordinates under a supervisor, right-click the supervisor, click Arrange Subordinates, click the layout style you want, and then click OK.

Work efficiently

  • To quickly create reporting relationships between one supervisor and several subordinates, drop the Multiple shapes or Three positions shape onto the supervisor shape.
  • To convert one position to another position-type, right-click the position, and then click Change Position Type.

Revise reporting structure, position location, and more

To Do this
Assign a position (and its subordinates) to a new supervisor Drag the position onto the shape you want it to report to.
Move a position while keeping the reporting structure Select the shape, and then on the Organization Chart menu, point to Move Subordinates, and then click either Left/Up or Right/Down.
Change the name or title of the person holding a position Double-click the shape that represents the position. Select the text you want to change, and then type the new text.
Change the layout of positions in a reporting structure Right-click the shape representing the top level of the reporting structure. Click Arrange Subordinates. Click the layout style you want, and then click OK.

Compare two versions of an organization chart

Compare two versions of the same organization chart to generate a report of the changes that you can use to update the older version.

To generate a report of the differences between two versions of a chart

  1. Open the newer version of the organization chart.
  2. On the Organization Chart menu, click Compare Organization Data.
  3. In the Drawing to compare it with box, select the name of the older version, or click Browse to locate it.
  4. Under Compare type, click My drawing is newer.
  5. Under Report type, choose whether you want a report that shows the changes made to the drawing, or one that shows positions that were added and/or deleted. (You can specify the data you want to compare by clicking the Advanced button, and then selecting the fields containing the data you want to compare.)
  6. A Comparison Report appears, in which you can view specific changes in your chart. (You can print the saved report to use later to make changes to the newer version of your organization chart.)

Store phone numbers and other data and generate reports

Store data with organization chart positions when:

  • You want the chart to serve as a public data source as well as to represent organizational structure. For example, by storing employee phone numbers and e-mail aliases with their position shapes, you can turn your organization chart into a communication directory.
  • You want your organization chart to serve as the central repository for either public or private employee data such as phone numbers, dates of hire, salaries, and grade levels, from which you can generate reports in Microsoft Office Excel® Workbook (.xls), Text tab-delimited (.txt), or CSV comma-delimited (.csv) formats.

How do I store data in an organization chart?

You store data in property fields associated with shapes.

Organization chart custom properties

All the shapes that you drag from the Organization Chart Shapes stencil onto the drawing page have pre-defined Department, Telephone, Name, Title, and E-mail property fields into which you can enter data.

You can add data to existing property fields and you can create your own custom fields.

To add data to existing property fields

  1. Select the shape you want to add data to.
  2. On the View menu, click Custom Properties Window.
  3. Click the fields you want to add data to, and then type.
  4. With the Custom Properties window open, select the next shape you want to add data to.
  5. When you're finished adding data to shapes you can close the Custom Properties window by clicking the Close button.

To create custom property fields for shapes in an existing organization chart

  1. With your organization chart open, right-click the shapes you want to add custom properties to and click Custom Properties.
  2. In the Custom Properties dialog box, click Define.
  3. Click New. Type or click information about your new property field for Label, Type, and the other options. If you don't understand an option, click the question mark at the lower left corner of the dialog box.
  4. If you want to add another new property field, click New again.
  5. When you're finished adding property fields, click OK. Your new property fields appear in the Custom Property dialog box. Click OK again.

To generate a report of data in your organization chart's property fields

  1. After you add data to the property fields in your organization chart, on the Organization Chart menu, click Export Organization Data.
  2. Under Save In, choose the location where you want to save the file.
  3. Under Save as type, choose the type of file you want.
  4. Type a name for the file, and then click Save.
  5. The file contains a column for each property field.

Tips for handling large organization charts

Even organization charts for relatively small departments can quickly grow beyond the boundaries of a letter-size printed page. The following tips can help you set up a large organization chart so it's easy to work with and distribute.

To Do this
Automatically arrange shapes
  • On the Organization Chart menu, choose Re-layout. Visio arranges the shapes in your organization chart in the best way possible, while maintaining your layout preferences.
Experiment with layouts
  • Right-click any shape with subordinates whose layout you want to experiment with, and then click Arrange Subordinates. Click the layout you want, and then click OK. To return to the original layout, on the Edit menu, click Undo Arrange Subordinates.
Temporarily hide subordinates
  • Right-click the shape with subordinates you want to hide, and then click Hide Subordinates. To show the subordinates again, right-click the shape, and then click Show Subordinates.
Create copies of departments or groups on separate pages and hide the subordinates on the original page
  1. Right-click the shape representing the manager of the department you want to place on a separate page, and then click Create Synchronized Copy.
  2. Click New Page, select the Hide Subordinates On Original Pagecheck box, and then click OK.

A new page on which the manager and subordinates appear is created.

  1. Make any changes you want to the department on the new page. Because the two copies of the department are synchronized, changes you make on either page appear on both pages. Note that changes made to text and custom properties, as well as the adding or replacing of pictures on a shape, apply to all synchronized copies of the shape on other pages. However, changes such as adding, deleting, or repositioning a shape apply only to that shape and that page.
  2. Click a page tab at the bottom-left corner of the window to display the original page.

 Tip   To show the subordinates on the original page, right-click the manager, and then click Show Subordinates.

Find a particular person or position in a large chart
  • On the Edit menu, click Find. Type the name of the person or position you want to find, select the search options you want, and then click Find Next.
Print a large organization chart for display
  1. Show the entire organization chart on one drawing page.


  • If some subordinates are hidden, right-click the superior shapes, and then click Show Subordinates.
  • If the drawing page is too small to contain the entire chart, on the File menu, click Page Setup. Click the Page Size tab, click Size to fit drawing contents, and then click OK.
  1. On the File menu, click Print Preview to see how the chart will tile across several printed pages.
  2. You can change the amount of overlap between pages by changing the size of the margins on the printed page. Larger margins mean more overlap.

To change margins, in the Print Preview window, click Setup. On the Print Setup tab, under Printer paper, click Setup. Type the margins you want, and then click OK twice.

  1. When you're satisfied with the way the chart will print, in the Print Preview window, click Print.
Applies to:
Visio 2003