How to Flowchart, Intermediate Symbols (Part 2 of 3)

By Liza Mock on Feb 25, 2015 in Tips and Tricks

Now that you’re well on your way to becoming master of the flowchart and know the basics from part one of this three-part series, it’s time to delve deeper.

How Flowcharting Helps You Win At Life
There is no doubt that breaking a complicated process down to individual steps and documenting them with a flowchart can make your life easier. Below are just a few things a flowchart can do for you.

• Improve communication
• Clarify a new process
• Illustrate the flow of data
• Document an existing process
• Depict flow within an organization
• Expose potential problems before they arise

Intermediate Flowchart Symbols
Flowcharts are made up of a sequence of actions, data, services and/or materials. They illustrate where data is being input and output, where information is being stored, what decisions need to be made and which people need to be involved.
Below are the flowchart symbols that will help demonstrate the above and prove that when it comes to drawing diagrams, you’re no amateur.



Single and multiple document icons show that there are additional points of reference involved in your flowchart.


Data symbols clarify where data your flowchart is referencing is being stored.

Input & Output

input & output

Input and output symbols show where and how data is coming in and out.

Merging & Connecting

merging & connecting

Agreed-upon merging and connector symbols make it easier to show how to connect flowcharts that span multiple pages.

Additional Useful Shapes

additional useful shapes

The above are a few additional symbols that prove your flowcharting prowess when put to good use.

Flowchart Best Practices

Now that you know how to impress everyone you know with intermediate flowchart symbols, let’s talk about how to truly make your diagrams shine. Below are best practices for making the best-looking flowcharts around.

CAUTION: following these guidelines may result in promotion and/or peer jealousy. Proceed at your own risk.

  • Be Consistent-because flowcharts are comprised of many visual elements, consistency within these elements makes flowcharts easier and nicer to look at. Be sure to keep symbols, colors, sizes, font types and arrow tips as uniform as possible. Your eyes will thank you.
  • Leave Enough Room-make sure that your symbols are not crowding each other and yet are as close together as possible. Consistency of spacing is of the utmost importance.
  • Remember, Less Is More-if you use Gliffy to create your flowcharts, you will be tempted by many options. You can change any symbol by adding colors, borders, gradients, drop shadows and more. And while having options is good and can draw attention where you need it, less is always more. The cleanest, most simple diagrams are always easiest to read.
  • Proof Your Work-make sure that all your arrows are pointing where they should and that the flow of your chart is clear. Then check for typos and other easy-to-miss errors before sending your diagram into the world.
  • Get a Second Opinion-even though your diagram may make perfect sense to you, it may not be clear to someone else. Always get a second opinion; it will save you a lot of grief later on.

Why Use Gliffy?

Gliffy is highly affordable, coming in at around $4/month and it’s one of the easiest diagramming tools to use. All you have to do to get started is drag and drop. If you don’t want to get started from scratch, there are templates and color themes to help you on your way. Gliffy has great customer service and a team of engineers dedicated to making constant improvements and adding new features. Come see for yourself!