How to Use PowerPoint to Draw a Fishbone Diagram

When you need to illustrate cause and effect in a presentation, a fishbone diagram -- formally called an Ishikawa diagram -- is something you can quickly design yourself in PowerPoint 2013. These diagrams may look complex to draw, but they're really just a series of straight lines that can you can easily fit into place. By grouping ribs together, and then copying and pasting them, you can reverse-fillet a fishbone diagram in no time at all.

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Use PowerPoint's Line shape to draw a fishbone diagram.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Open a new blank PowerPoint slide and delete the text boxes. This gives you a nice empty canvas to draw the diagram, which you can then copy and paste into your presentation. Click the "Insert" menu, select "Shapes" and then select the first "Line" in the Lines section.

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Select the line shape.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.
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Draw a second line down at an angle from the first.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Hold down the "Shift" key and drag the cursor horizontally across the slide to create the first segment of a bone. Select the "Line" shape again and drag the cursor down from the end of the first line at a 30 to 45 degree angle. This creates the first rib.

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Group the two lines.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Ctrl-click both lines to select them. Click the "Format" menu and then the "Group" icon. Select "Group" from the drop-down menu to group the two lines. This makes the rib much easier to duplicate.

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Drag the second bone to line up with the first.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Press "Ctrl-C" and "Ctrl-V" to copy and paste the rib. Drag the bottom corner of the copy to shorten it just a bit and then drag it down so it's beside the first bone. Note that when you drag it down, a guideline appears to help you line the two bones where the spine will be. Repeat this process to add additional bones until the top half of the skeleton is complete.

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Group the ribs together.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Ctrl-click all the ribs and group them using the "Group" option under the Format tab. Add a spine by dragging a new line that intersects with the bottom of each rib.

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Change the color and line weight by right-clicking on the group of ribs.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Right-click the group of ribs and click the "Outline" icon. Select a color and line weight that will work well with your diagram.

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Drag the top handle below the bottom of the shape to flip it.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Copy the group of ribs and paste a new copy onto the slide. Move the copy to the side. Drag the top middle handle downward past the bottom edge. This transforms the shape into a mirror image of itself. It's hard to make the mirror exactly the same size of the original at first, so after it is nearly the right size, move it beside the original group of ribs so you can use the guidelines to size it exactly.

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Drag the bottom set of bones to the spine.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Drag the bottom set of bones to line them up with the top set. You can have the sets intersect along the spine, or offset them if you are conveying a sequential process.

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Add labels to the bones.
credit: Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Step

Click the "Insert" menu and select "Text Box" to add labels to the diagram. Drag the text box just above or beside each horizontal line and enter the text for each. Right-click the text to set its font and color.