How to Make a Tournament Chart

Updated March 23, 2017

From March Madness and the NCAA tournament to the countdown to the Super Bowl, countless fans closely follow the competition by making their own brackets. These brackets allows fans to keep track of who is advancing in the tournament or playoffs as well as make their own predictions. Tournament charts can also be used for non-professional sporting events such as in-class competitions or a golf tournament. For your next tournament or competitive event, create your own chart to track the progress of the event in a fun and affordable way.

Determine what size you will need to make your tournament chart. The size of the chart will depend on how many participants or teams are in the tournament. The style of competition will also change the size of the chart so take into consideration whether your tournament will use a head-to-head system or a pool-play system.

Sketch out your bracket on scratch paper. Determine how many people or teams will be in each round of the tournament. For example the NCAA Tournament has 32 teams in the first round, 16 teams in the second, eight teams in the third, four teams in the fourth, and two teams in the final round. Each round is half the size of the round before it because the NCAA works based on a head-to-head style of play. Each round of competition will form its own set of columns on the poster board with the exception of the final round, which will only need one column.

Lightly sketch out your bracket onto the poster board. Use your ruler to measure out the necessary number of columns per your calculations. Each column should be the same size, based on the dimensions of your poster board. Lightly draw a line for each column to serve as a guide when drawing your chart.

Draw the first set of lines. All of these lines will be draw vertically. Begin with the outside columns which will become the first round of competition. Draw a line in the centre of the column that spans almost the entire height of the poster board. Leave a wide space on both ends of the line. Draw the line for the second round of competition in the column second from the outside. This line should be shorter than the line you just drew and should be centred in the column and in comparison to the first line you drew. Continue this process until you get to the final round of competition. In the centre column, draw two lines that are the same length.

Draw your second set of lines. All of these lines will be drawn horizontally, stemming off of the lines you drew in the previous step. Draw a horizontal line representing each of the players or teams in each of the rounds of competition. For example, if you are starting with 32 players then each of the outside columns should contain 16 evenly spaced horizontal lines. Continue this process until you have drawn each of the horizontal lines for each round.

Trace over the pencil lines you have drawn with your fine-point permanent marker.

Use the label maker to create a label for each of the players or the teams in the competition. You will only be able to make the first round when you first create your chart. Continue to create the labels of advancing competitors as the tournament goes along.


Look at an example bracket if you need assistance drawing your tournament chart.

Things You'll Need

  • Poster board
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Fine-point permanent marker
  • Label maker
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About the Author

Jessica Furgerson has been researching and writing for over four years. Her notable publications include freelance writing for Picket Fence Publications. After completing her Bachelor of Arts in 2010 at Western Kentucky University, Furgerson is now working on her Ph.D. in rhetoric and communication studies as well as advanced certification in women and gender studies.