How to Create a Workflow in PowerPoint

By David Weedmark

Use the shapes and arrows in PowerPoint 2013 to design your own workflow diagram, and learn how to customize shapes to depict different stages.

PowerPoint 2013 is an ideal tool for creating a quick workflow diagram. Include the diagram as part of a presentation or export it as a PDF or image to share with new employees.

Step 1

Add a new blank slide in any PowerPoint presentation by clicking the Home tab and selecting New Slide. Click the Blank icon that doesn't include any text boxes.

Step 2

The shapes we'll be using in this workflow example.

Click the Insert tab and then the Shapes icon. Select a shape to signify one stage of the workflow. In this example, we'll choose a rounded rectangle for each stage. After selecting the shape, drag the cursor over the blank slide to draw it.

Step 3

Adjust the colors and select Edit Text.

Resize the shape by dragging any corner handle. To change the Style, Fill or Outline, right-click the shape or click the Drawing Tools' Format tab. When you have finished creating the shape, right-click it and select Edit Text. Type a couple of words to describe the first stage in the workflow.

Step 4

Most font options are available by right-clicking.

Highlight the text and then right-click it to change the Font, Font Size and Alignment. These font options are also available in the ribbon when you click the Home tab.

Step 5

Guide lines appear when moving shapes.

Add a second stage to the workflow by inserting another shape. You can use different shapes or different colors for different stages, or different colors. If the second stage is going to look the same as the first, just copy and paste. Right-click the first shape, press Ctrl-C and then Ctrl-V to paste a duplicate. You can then change the text as needed. As you drag shapes on the slide, guide lines appear to help ensure they are positioned evenly.

Step 6

Here, different colors indicate different teams.

Create as many shapes as you need and arrange them on the slide. The workflow doesn't always have to be straight up and down or left to right. In this example we have nine stages in the workflow, in three phases. The first and third phase are blue, performed by the sales team. The middle three are gray, performed by the painting crew. Note that the second phase flows right to left so that the workflow can wind across the slide and will make sense once the arrows are in place.

Step 7

Rotate and flip arrows as needed.

Select the Insert tab and then choose an arrow from the Shapes menu. You'll notice that the bent arrows and the U-Turn arrow aren't available pointing in all directions. To change an arrow's direction, use the round Rotate icon to turn the shape. To flip an arrow to point in the opposite direction, drag any resizing Anchor all the way across the shape to the opposite side.

Tip

As an alternative to arrows, you can also use Connector Lines from the Shapes menu, which can literally connect to shapes. When you move shapes around, the Connector Lines are automatically resized.

Step 8

The finished workflow illustration.

Add as many arrows as needed for the flow chart. Many flow charts have an arrow pointing from every stage to the next. In the example above, we can achieve a sense of flow that's both logical and intuitive with only four arrows.

Step 9

Export a copy as a PDF, JPG or PNG file.

Save your completed file so you can edit it later if needed. To save a copy as a PDF, PNG or JPG file, click the File menu and select Export. The first export option allows you to create a PDF file, while clicking Change File Type gives you options for saving it as a PNG or JPG image file.

Tip

When working with a lot of shapes, it's often helpful to manage them using the Selection Pane

References & Resources