How to Create Microsoft Data Flow Diagrams

Written by jeff grundy Google
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How to Create Microsoft Data Flow Diagrams
Create easy-to-follow flow charts with Microsoft Data Flow Diagrams. (business flow chart orange image by Nicemonkey from

Data Flow Diagrams (DFD), also commonly known as flow charts, provide a visual representation of the processes and instructions necessary to perform a certain task or group of tasks. DFDs use basic geometric shapes and caption text to show a viewer how to follow a set of sequenced event instructions.

Microsoft Visio, part of the Microsoft Office Suite, is an application designed to make creating DFDs a relatively quick and straightforward task. Most users get the hang of using the application to create basic DFDs in almost no time at all.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Microsoft Office 2007 or 2010

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  1. 1

    Launch Microsoft Visio on your computer. Click the Office button, then click "File/New."

  2. 2

    Click "Software and Database," then double-click the "Data Flow Diagram" option. Wait for the blank drawing grid to appear on the screen. The Data Flow Diagram components should appear on the left side of your screen.

  3. 3

    Drag and drop a "Data Store" control (third control on the list) to the drawing grid. Click and hold the control, then position it in the location where you want it to display. Double-click the control and enter some descriptive text for the DFD. For example, "How to Perform Inventory."

  4. 4

    Highlight the "Data Store" control on the drawing grid, then press the "Ctrl" and "D" keys at the same time to create a copy. Double-click the new control, then rename it. Place the second control underneath the first. This is the first instruction component or highlight for the flow chart. Create additional "Data Stores" and rename them as required. For instance, you might want to create "Locations to Check," "Counting Inventory" and "Verifying Counts" as primary instruction components for the "How to Perform Inventory" example.

  5. 5

    Drag and drop "Arrow" controls onto the drawing grid to indicate the process flow.

  6. 6

    Drag and drop "Label" controls on to the drawing to highlight certain areas or provide detailed instructions under a primary component heading.

  7. 7

    Save the Visio Drawing file. Optionally, print the file and distribute to those that need the information.

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