This Mousebytes explains how to create an organisation chart in Visio. Visio is an excellent tool for creating both simple and complex organisation charts.  You can quickly create relationships between superior and inferior shapes in your drawing just by dragging and dropping shapes on top of one another.  For larger organisations, charts can be split across pages and synchronised.

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Get Started with your Organisation Chart

To create an Organisational Chart drawing click File | New and then click Business in the Template Categories area.

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Double-click the Organisation Chart template button to start your drawing. Click on the Org Chart tab on the Ribbon to display commands and tools relevant to this type of drawing.

First drag the Executive shape from the Organization Chart Shapes stencil onto your drawing.

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An animation window will show you how to build an organisation chart by dragging shapes on top of shapes. As the animation suggests, to add a further position to your chart, place your next shape on top of the Executive shape. The new shape will appear below the Executive shape and a line will connect the two.

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Build the rest of the chart in the same way – you can add a manager, consultant, assistant, generic position or vacancy position to your chart.

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Add Multiple Positions at Once

To add multiple subordinate positions at once, use the Multiple shapes shape.

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In the Add Multiple Shapes dialog, specify the number of positions you want to add, as well as the position type.

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Click OK to confirm.

Indicate a Team with the Team Frame

Add the Team Frame shape to add a border around positions that belong to the same team.

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You can label the Team Frame with the team’s name.

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Add Data to Position Shapes

The easiest way to add data to position shapes is to use the Shape Data window.  Data you enter here will update the shapes on your drawing.

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By default, only the Name and Title fields display in the position shapes on your chart.  To display other fields, show the Ribbon’s Org Chart tab and click the Display Options button.

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In the Options dialog tick the Fields tab and then tick the fields you want to display in Block 1.

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Click OK to confirm.

Change Shape Dimensions

If you display additional fields as shown above, it will probably be necessary to change the size of your position shapes.  To do this, click on the Display Options button on the Org Chart Ribbon and on the Options tab enter your new width and/or height dimensions.

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Click OK to confirm.

If your new dimensions are likely to cause your position shapes to overlap, Visio will offer to automatically arrange you chart.

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Click Yes to confirm.

Expand and Collapse Subordinates

For large organisation charts it might be beneficial to collapse subordinates for a particular branch/manager. This is easily achieved by right-clicking on a superior position and selecting Hide Subordinates in the menu.

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To expand subordinates, right-click the superior position and click Expand Subordinates.

Create a Synchronised Copy of a Branch

You can create a synchronised copy of superior shape and its branch.  The copy is placed on a separate page. The idea is that you collapse subordinates on that branch on the main chart but make them visible on the synchronised page.  Any updates you make affect both versions of the branch – changes update both ways.

To create a synchronised copy, click Create Synchronised Copy on the Ribbon’s Org Chart tab.

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In the resulting dialog select where you want the copy to be placed and then click OK to confirm.

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A copy is created at the location you have specified.  Make changes to the copy and the original is automatically updated.

Chart Layout Options

You can easily change the layout of subordinate shapes.  First select a superior shape and then use either the Horizontal, Vertical or Side by Side menus on the Ribbon’s Org Chart tab to select the layout you require.

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Example Layouts

Single Side Layout

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Horizontal Stagger Layout

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Change Spacing Between Shapes

To change the spacing between shapes, click on the Change Spacing button on the Ribbon’s Org Chart tab.

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In the Spacing dialog select a spacing option or add a custom spacing value and click OK to confirm.

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Add an Image to a Shape

To add a picture of a staff member to their chart shape, select the shape and then click on the Insert button on the Ribbon’s Org Chart tab.

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Browse for the image file you want to display and click Open.  The image will appear in the selected shape.

Organisation Chart Wizard

The Organisation Chart Wizard is a separate template in the Business category. This template is useful if you have organisation data in a database or Excel spreadsheet.

The database should contain the data you want to include in your organisation chart. A position field and a report to field are obviously mandatory, but you might also want to include department, role, telephone number and so on.

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The template takes you straight into a wizard. In the first step keep the option Information that’s already stored in a file or database selected. Then click Next.

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In the next step select the type of data source you are going to use. The default is Excel File. Click Next.

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In the next step browse for the Excel file you want to use as your data source. Click Next.

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In the next step, select which field in your database contains the position’s name and then which field tells Visio who the position reports to. Visio may have correctly guessed these fields for you. Click Next.

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In the next step, add fields that you want to display in the position shapes or leave the displayed fields as they are – Name and Title are automatically displayed. Click Next.

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In the next step, add additional fields that you want to make available in the Shape Data window. Click Next.

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In the next step, select the option I want to specify how much of my organization to display on each page. Click Next

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In the next step, if you want to keep your organisation chart on one page click on Finish.

If your organisation chart needs to be split across pages, click Add Page

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Select the staff member that you want to head up the page and give the page a name. Click OK to confirm.

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Repeat for each page you want to create.

Click Finish to confirm and end the wizard.  Pages are synchronised and shapes are hyperlinked across pages.

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