How to Create Business Process Flow Charts With Excel

Updated April 17, 2017

A process flow chart is a diagram illustrating steps in completing a procedure, such as building a widget, making a purchasing decision or completing a documentation. Boxes of various shapes represent each step, branching based on decisions and ending at one or more terminator boxes indicating the outcome of the process. Microsoft Excel's drawing tools offer built-in flow chart shapes that let you easily create a business process flow chart to illustrate your process.

Create a new sheet for your chart by clicking the "Insert Worksheet" button next to the sheet tabs at the bottom of the screen.

Select all the cells in the new sheet by clicking the "Select All" button in the upper right next to column A and above row 1.

Click the "Format" button in the "Cells" group on the "Home" ribbon. Select "Column Width..." Enter 2.14 and hit the "OK" button. This makes all the cells square (for the default 11 point Calibri font), making a nice grid for laying out the chart elements.

Activate the "Insert" ribbon. Click the "Shapes" button in the "Illustrations" group and select the "Terminator" shape under "Flow Chart."

Draw the terminator shape on the worksheet. Click on the sheet, drag the mouse until the shape is the desire shape, and let go of the mouse button. The shape will remain active, and the Drawing Tools | Format ribbon will be open.

Click the "Align" button in the "Arrange" group on the Drawing Tools | Format ribbon. Activate "Snap to Grid" and "View Gridlines." These options will help you draw and align shapes consistently.

Select a visual style from the "Shape Styles" group.

Type the title of the start of the process. The title will be displayed in the centre of the terminator shape.

Select the appropriate flow chart shape for the next step in the process. Draw it on the worksheet, select a visual style, and title it as for the terminator shape. See the "Flowchart Symbols Defined" link in the Resources section for more information about flow chart shapes.

Select the "Elbow Arrow" shape from the "Insert Shapes" group.

Hover over the terminator shape (the start of your process). Handles will highlight red indicating the line can be joined to one of the handles.

Hold the mouse cursor above a handle, click and drag towards the shape representing the next step. The handles on the shape will highlight.

Move the mouse cursor to one of the handles on the second shape and let go. An arrow line will be drawn between the two shapes showing the direction of the flow.

Set the desired visual style from the "Shape Styles" group.

Continue adding shapes and elbow arrows, ending with one or more terminator shapes to represent the end of the process.


Draw multiples of the same shape in succession by right-clicking the desired shape in the "Insert Shapes" group and selecting "Lock Drawing Mode." Hit the "Esc" key to exit the drawing mode.

Things You'll Need

  • Microsoft Excel 2007
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About the Author

Deborah Lee Soltesz is a web developer who has been creating websites, promotional materials and information products since 1992. Soltesz has a Bachelor of Science in computer science and engineering. She worked in earth and space science research writing for scientific and general audiences for more than a decade.