Draw flowcharts with Word and PowerPoint

Applies to
Microsoft Office Word 2003
Microsoft Word 2000 and 2002
Microsoft Office PowerPoint® 2003
Microsoft PowerPoint® 2000 and 2002

You need to draw a diagram, such as a flowchart, but you're not sure if you should use Word or PowerPoint. Word is a word-processing program that includes drawing tools, whereas PowerPoint is geared toward slide presentations and drawing. Both are easy to use, but which is better for you? Let's see how Andy and Stacey use each program to draw a flowchart.

Draw with Word

Andy chooses Word to create his flowchart. On the View menu, he points to Toolbars and clicks Drawing. On the Drawing toolbar, he then clicks AutoShapes and points to Flowchart to see appropriate shapes. To get a description of a particular shape, he pauses on it.

Flowchart shapes

Inserting shapes

To insert a shape (for example, the Flowchart: Process shape), Andy clicks it, positions the pointer where he wants the shape inserted, and clicks again.

Adding text to shapes

Because he wants text included in the shape, he right-clicks the shape, clicks Add Text, and starts to type. If the text is too long or the font size is too big for the shape, he can resize the shape by clicking it and dragging the sizing handles to make it larger, or he can make the font smaller by selecting the text and clicking a smaller point size in the Font Size box.

Connecting shapes

To connect shapes, Andy clicks AutoShapes, points to Connectors, and then clicks a connector (for example, the Straight Arrow Connector. Then he clicks a border on the first shape and clicks a border on the second shape, where the connector snaps to connection points on the shapes. Even though Andy could connect the shapes with the Lines AutoShapes, he uses Connectors because they automatically snap to the borders of the shapes in his flowchart.

 Note   In Word 2000, Andy clicks the Arrow button on the Drawing toolbar, clicks a border on the first shape, holds down the mouse button, and releases it where he wants the arrowhead.

Adding text to connectors

To add text to a connector, Andy clicks the Text Box button on the Drawing toolbar and positions the text box alongside the arrow. Because he does not want the text box to have visible borders, he selects the box, and then on the Format menu, he selects Text Box. On the Colors and Lines tab, under Line, in the Color drop-down list, he selects No Line.

Sample flowchart with connected shapes

Grouping shapes

To group the shapes in his flowchart so that they stay and move together, Andy selects the objects he wants to include by holding down SHIFT as he clicks each one. On the Drawing toolbar, he clicks Draw, and then he clicks Group.

 Note   If you resize the grouped objects with the sizing handles, you may need to adjust the font size of the text.

Resizing shapes

In addition, Andy can resize the shape by clicking it and dragging the sizing handles. If he wants the size of the shape to remain the same, however, he can make the text smaller by selecting the text and clicking a smaller point size in the Font Size box.

In Word 2002 and Word 2003, Andy can also select the Resize AutoShape to fit text check box. With the Resize AutoShape to fit text check box selected, the shape will resize when he changes the font size.

Unique features

Word also allows Andy to wrap text around shapes. He makes sure that the shape is not grouped and selects it. Then on the Format menu, he clicks AutoShape and clicks the Layout tab. He chooses the wrapping style that he wants to apply.

 Note   In Word 2002 and Word 2003, options for choosing a wrapping style are available only if the AutoShape is placed in the document without being placed on a drawing canvas. To prevent Word from automatically placing AutoShapes on a drawing canvas, clear the Automatically create drawing canvas when inserting AutoShapes check box on the General tab of the Options dialog box (Tools menu).

Draw with PowerPoint

To draw her flowchart, Stacey chooses PowerPoint. She right-clicks any toolbar and selects the Drawing toolbar. Like Andy, Stacey clicks AutoShapes and points to Flowchart to see appropriate shapes. She also pauses on a shape to see its description.

Inserting shapes

To insert a shape, she clicks it, positions the pointer where she wants the shape inserted, and clicks again. Unlike in Word, the shape has a colored fill in PowerPoint.

Changing fill color

To change the fill color, Stacey selects the object. On the Format menu, she clicks AutoShape and the Colors and Lines tab. Under Fill, in the Color drop-down box, she selects a new color.

Connecting shapes

To connect shapes, Stacey clicks AutoShapes, points to Connectors, and then clicks a connector (for example, the Straight Arrow Connector. Then she clicks a border on the first shape and clicks a border on the second shape, where the connector snaps to connection points on the shape. Even though Stacey could connect the shapes with the Lines AutoShapes, she uses Connectors because they automatically snap to the borders of the shapes in her flowchart.

 Note   In PowerPoint 2000, Stacey clicks the Arrow button on the Drawing toolbar, clicks a border on the first shape, holds down the mouse button, and releases it where she wants the arrowhead.

Adding text to connectors

Adding text to a connector is a bit easier in PowerPoint is a bit easier than in Word. Stacey simply clicks the Text Box button on the Drawing toolbar, and then clicks the place on the page where she wants to insert the text.

Grouping shapes

To group the shapes, Stacey selects the objects by holding down SHIFT as she clicks each one. On the Drawing toolbar, she clicks Draw, and then clicks Group.

 Note   If you resize the grouped objects with the sizing handles, you may need to adjust the font size of the text.

Resizing shapes

In addition, she can resize the shape by clicking it and dragging the sizing handles. If she wants the size of the shape to remain the same, however, she can make the text smaller by selecting the text and clicking a smaller point size in the Font Size box.

Stacey can also select the Resize AutoShape to fit text check box. With the Resize AutoShape to fit text check box selected, the shape will resize when she changes the font size.

Unique features

PowerPoint also offers some features that Word does not. To insert text, for example, PowerPoint allows Stacey to click inside the shape and type. If her text does not fit inside the object, she just selects the object. Then on the Format menu, she clicks AutoShape, clicks the Text Box tab, and selects the Word wrap text in AutoShape check box to wrap the text to the width of the object.

Feature Comparison

Word PowerPoint
AutoShape templates X X
Insert text in a graphic by clicking and typing   X
Resize AutoShape to fit text X1 X
Word wrap text in AutoShape X1 X
Wrap text around AutoShape X  

1 This feature is not available in Word 2000.

 
 
Applies to:
Word 2003