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One of the most effective ways to make your diagrams look more professional is to customize the properties of your shapes and connectors. Doing this can make the difference between a diagram that's presentation ready and one that's less compelling.
A quick primer is all you need to get started:
Start by selecting a shape—any shape—and clicking on the 'edit shape properties' icon. This will open a shape properties window for the shape (or shapes) you're working with.
Pro tip: to edit multiple shapes at once, hold down the shift key, click each of the desired shapes, and then open shape properties.
The edit shape properties window provides extensive opportunity to personalize—and professionalize—your diagram. From left to right across the top row of icons, you've got drop down menus for:
Beneath these buttons you've got a series of entry fields to set your shape's location, its size, and its orientation. (These elements can also be adjusted by selecting a shape and dragging or rotating either the shape or the square adjusters on its bounding box—as seen in the top image in this post.)
Finally, you can tick the boxes on the right to lock either the shape's aspect ratio—so its width and height remains constant relative to each other—or to lock the shape altogether—so all of its properties including its position are protected against change.
If you've selecting multiple shapes, you'll also have icons that let you align the selected shapes in one of six ways or to distribute them evenly vertically or horizontally.
Customizing connectors works in almost exactly the same way—just select a connector and click on the 'edit line properties' icon that appears.
You can adjust the length, layout, or position of a connector simply by selecting it and manipulating the entire connector or the circular adjusters that control its endpoints and each leg—as seen in the image at the top of this section.
Once you get a shape or connector customized to your liking, Gliffy makes duplicating that look easy via a number of built-in tools.
First, if you set the properties of a shape or a connector, then create a new shape or connector, the new object will automatically have the same properties as the shape you just customized. If you're working with a number of different customized shapes—say blue ovals and violet rectangles—there are two shortcuts to recreating identical looking shapes.
Our Copy Style tool—found in the icon bar—copies design elements from one shape to another with just a few clicks. Select the customized shape you want to mimic, click the Copy Style icon, and then click the shape you want to transfer the design to.
Elements copied include:
The Copy Style tool only works with supported shapes. Another easy way to duplicate style elements is by using Command+D, which instantly creates a duplicate of the currently selected shape or connector. (You can find this and other similar commands in the Edit Menu).
If you're looking for some professional-quality design inspiration, try applying one of Gliffy's pre-made diagram themes.
You can open the Theme window by clicking the four-color theme icon found towards the right end of the icon bar. Then, just hover your mouse over one of the 12 professionally-designed themes to see it temporarily applied to your diagram.
When you find a theme you like, just click on it to apply it to your diagram.
Frequently, we build diagrams using a range of different shape colors and styles to add levels of meaning. For example, in traditional flowcharts a diamond shape signifies a decision and a rectangle stands for a process step.
Before you share your diagram in a presentation, on a wiki, or in any other way, consider adding an explanatory key. This adds an additional level of professionalism to the finished product.
To create a key:
Use these simple tools and the built-in functionality of Gliffy to create high-quality, professional-level diagrams appropriate for any type of business or personal presentation.