Flow Charts in Excel - 'autoshape' and add text commands


Laura M

Flow charts in Excel

I've been using Excel for flow charts. Today, something happened that I can't explain.

I used the 'autoshape' and add text commands. Print preview was not an exact representation of what I had on the screen. In a couple places, it moved a word to the previous line. I first noticed it on the pdf file I created because the pdf file cut off the end of the word.

I've used excel and pdf before. I'm betting there is a default option somewhere that I didn't know about. It's one of those head bangers that I've had enough of for one day so I'm looking for a Cover to bale me out!! HELP unlock brain block!!



I often used the autoshape commands in powerpoint (same as excel's) for flowcharts. I would always paste them into my Word documents. I would often find that things would move slightly from the copy in PP to the paste in word. If I resized the offending shape or line slightly, it would be OK. Sometimes just a second copy/past cycle would take care of it without any edits. I also would always paste as a picture, since pasting as a drawing object would leave individual objects that were a mess to move or resize.

My guess is that Autoshapes is not an advanced flowchart package and is full of bugs. I don't seem to have the same problems with Visio, but of course that has its own set of problems. I wish I had stuck with autoshapes since several of my clients don't have visio and there is no way to convert the drawings.


M Greenaway


I also use Visio, and would recommend to Laura that she has a go with this very useful software.

As for sharing Visio diagrams with non-Visio users, you can import them as objects into a MS Word document, or you can save them as HTML files which everyone can access through their web browser software.


Hi Laura,
I've had the same problem with flow charts in Word. I couldn't figure it out, so I finally gave the file to our graphic designer who captured it as a .jpg file, and that worked.

I hope someone in the Cove knows the answer to this, because it's an annoying problem.


My main issue with visio is that my clients need to update the files after I am long gone (or call me with "can you add this box to the flowchart"). I hate telling people they have to go spend $250+ for software to maintain 10 flowcharts. I like the software, but it is overkill for some applications.

I have tried the HTML conversion and some others. You either lose individual objects, or objects/lines/text become disconnected individual objects. You would think Microsoft would make it more compatible with their office products.

Laura M

Thanks for all the comments. Maybe I'm NOT losing my mind? What I don't get is that the flow chart I was working on is fairly simple. I did several complex ones, and didn't have this problem. I wonder if it is an XP problem, as the other charts were in '97.

I haven't tried PPT, because excel and word have all the symbols I need in the drawing toolbar. One thing I did notice (with XP?) is that it wants to open a picture instead of just placing the graphic on the page. Is that part of the problem? I don't think like a computer, so when it tries to distinguish between a text box or a picture, I usually go with the flow until I get it to look right. But this business of having the text reformat itself for printing, or the print preview is really confusing.:rolleyes: :frust:

I'll try a few more things tonite. Thanks again for the input everyone. If I learn anything else, I'll let you know.

James Gutherson

Hi Laura, I think tomvehoski is right when he says some times a small change in size will correct these problems. This drawing part of Excel (and Word and Powerpoint) is a Vector type of diagraming program as opposed to a Raster style program like Paint. It (AutoShape) uses a series commands something like (very simplified) "Draw a Rectangle 'X' pixels long by 'Y' pixels high at 'A' pixels right from the top left of the window, and 'B' pixels down. Call this shape "Shape". Add text 'Text" in 'Q' font starting a 'C' pixels along from the top left corner of 'Shape'. If width of 'Text' exceeds width of 'Shape'; then start new line."

The problem occurs when the printer has a slightly diffent resolution of a pixel, and of a font to the screen, (and they all do) you can get in some circumstances a different word wrapping in the printed document to the screen. The screen can fit the word in the space given for the shape, but the printer can't so it wraps it (the text).

Essentially, what Acrobat is doing is making a Vector image of the Document using a printers definition of the image, so that what you see on the screen is what is printed, but this word wrapping problem can occur again.

Anyway to fix it, you might be able to change the size once, save it and correct it back again, in case it is a bug. If this doesn't work, it is probably one of those word wrap configurations, so you need to change something, maybe a change of the shape by one pixel (smaller of larger) will be enough to make the two images (printer and screen) line up.

Visio is a much more advanced program, designed to do this type of work with these type of situations allowed for - rather than a quick and dirty solution like Auto shapes - you gets what you pays for. Saying that, I tend to use Auto shapes as well, just be aware of the formating limitations.

Al Dyer

Any comments on those $25 - $100 programs that are made specifically for flowcharts?

Laura M

I'll save my $25 for the 'cause.' Thanks for all the help.

(I hope this isn't a repeat post - I thought I submitted something similar, but didn't see it show up.)

I've used Visio - but only when the client already had it. I was self taught, but they still had no one to take it over when I left. I prefer the Word/Excel variety if they are simply flow charts.

Thanks for all the help in solving this problem
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