How to Make a Hierarchy Tree in Excel

By Filonia LeChat

Making an organizational hierarchy is an optimal way to visually represent employees’ place within a company or how processes flow within a business, but the actual creation of the chart need not be overwhelming. Take advantage of Microsoft Excel’s organizational chart feature, SmartArt, which includes templates for hierarchy diagrams. Use Excel’s SmartArt as a building block for your next hierarchy tree and then customize it to fit your exact requirements.

Step 1

Launch Microsoft Excel. Click the “Insert” tab at the top of the workspace. Click the “SmartArt” button on the ribbon below the tab. When the “Choose a SmartArt Graphic” window pops up, click the “Hierarchy” link on the window’s left side.

Step 2

Click one of the hierarchy buttons in the middle of the window. A preview appears in the right portion of the window, but you’ll be able to change the appearance in a later step. Click the “OK” button and the hierarchy opens on the spreadsheet.

Step 3

Click the “Text Pane” button on the left side of the ribbon to open the text pane. If you do not see the “Text Pane” button, click the hierarchy to enable it and open the purple “SmartArt Tools” tab at the top of the workspace.

Step 4

Click inside each “[Text]” link on the text pane and type the describer for that hierarchy option. For example, in the top [Text] box, type the highest member of the hierarchy, such as “President” or “Human Beings.”

Step 5

Click inside the [Text] link below and type the next hierarchy item in the trickle down, such as “Vice President” or “Household Pets.”

Step 6

Change the hierarchy’s appearance from the default Excel blue by clicking the “Change Colors” button on the ribbon. Hover over individual options to see the hierarchy change and click one to commit the change.

Step 7

Click the “Add Shape” button on the left side of the ribbon to add to the hierarchy, such as for organizations that have two co-presidents or need more lower reports on the bottom of the chart. Use the “Promote,” “Demote,” “Up” and “Down” buttons on the ribbon to rearrange the preset shapes in the Excel hierarchy template.

Step 8

Adjust the template’s size by clicking a corner and dragging out into the cells of the spreadsheet. Excel keeps the same size, so if you add rows, it will shrink the hierarchy until it becomes hard to read. Dragging the size out to enlarge the hierarchy gives you more room, but this is optional.

Step 9

Click the “File” tab. Click “Save As.” Type a name for the Excel hierarchy file and click the “Save” button.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can also make a hierarchy tree in Excel manually. After clicking the “Insert” tab, click the “Shapes” button. Choose a shape, such as the rectangle, for the main portion of the hierarchy, such as employee positions. After drawing the shape, click the “Text Box” button also on the “Insert” tab. Draw a text box inside the shape and type the title, such as “President.” Draw an outline around both the text box and the shape. Press the “Ctrl” and “C” keys to copy it, then press the “Ctrl” and “V” keys to paste the copy. Drag the copy into place on the spreadsheet, such as below the first. Repeat the paste process until you have the required number of hierarchy boxes. Then click inside each to type over the job title with the correct one.