Ultimate Flowchart Tutorial (Complete Flowchart Guide with Examples)

Ultimate Flowchart Tutorial (Complete Flowchart Guide with Examples)

So you want to learn flowcharts? Well, This flowchart tutorial will teach you all you need to know. It will cover the history of flowcharts, flowchart symbols, how to create flowcharts, flowchart best practices and we’ve also included a section to answer frequent questions about flowcharts. Best of all you can use our flowchart software to draw them.

Creately already has some really awesome articles and videos covering various things related to flowcharts like meanings of flowchart symbols, how to use swimlanes in flowcharts, flowchart best practices, case studies, and much more.

Flowchart Tutorial

This blog post will simply gather all that information and present it in a logical way. I’ve added links to different sections to make it easier to navigate. Click on the relevant link to quickly read the relevant section.

History of Flowcharts

Frank Gilberth introduced flowcharts in 1921, and they were called “Process Flow Charts” at the beginning. Allan H. Mogensen is credited with training business people on how to use flowcharts. Wikipedia has a great summary of the history of flowcharts, read more in this wiki section.

Flowchart Symbols

Flowchart Symbols -  Flowchart Guide

So what are the different symbols used in a flowchart?. Most people are only aware of basic symbols like processes and decision blocks. But there are many more symbols to make your flowchart more meaningful. The above image shows all the standard flowchart symbols.

The most common symbol used in a flowchart is the rectangle. A rectangle represents a process, operation, or a task. The next most common symbol is the diamond which is used to represent a decision.

With this following list, you can figure out the most commonly used flowchart symbols as well as those that are little-known. All these shapes are available in Creately and you can try out a demo or take a look at some flowchart examples for more context.

Terminal / Terminator


The terminator shows where your process begins or ends. You can use words like ‘Start’, ‘Begin’, ‘End’ inside the terminator shape to make things more obvious.

Process / Rectangle


Flowchart process shape is used to represent a process, action step, or operation. While these are pictured with rectangles, the text in the rectangle mostly includes a verb. For example, ‘Edit Video’, ‘Try Again’, ‘Choose Your Plan’.n’.

Data (I/O)

The Data object, often referred to as the I/O Shape shows the Inputs to and Outputs from a process. This takes the shape of a parallelogram.

Decision / Conditional


The decision shape is represented as a Diamond. This object is always used in a process flow to ask a question. And, the answer to the question determines the arrows coming out of the Diamond. This shape is quite unique with two arrows coming out of it. One from the bottom point corresponding to Yes or True and one from either the right/left point corresponding to No or False. The arrows should always be labeled to avoid confusion in the process flow.


The document object is a rectangle with a wave-like base. This shape is used to represent a Document or Report in a process flow.

Stored Data


This is a general data storage object used in the process flow as opposed to data that could be also stored on a hard drive, magnetic tape, memory card, of any other storage device.

Direct Data


Direct Data object in a process flow represents information stored which can be accessed directly. This object represents a computer’s hard drive.

Internal Storage

internal storage

This is a shape that is commonly found in programming flowcharts to illustrate the information stored in memory, as opposed to on a file. This shape is often referred to as the magnetic core memory of early computers, or the random access memory (RAM) as we call it today.

Sequential Access

sequential access

This object takes the shape of a reel of tape. It represents information stored in a sequence, such as data on a magnetic tape.

Manual Input

This object is represented by a rectangle with the top sloping up from left to right. The Manual Input object signifies an action where the user is prompted for information that must be manually input into a system.

Subroutine / Predefined Process

This shape takes two names – ‘Subroutine’ or ‘Predefined Process’. Its called a subroutine if you use this object in flowcharting a software program. This allows you to write one subroutine and call it as often as you like from anywhere in the code.

The same object is also called a Predefined Process. This means the flowchart for the predefined process has to be already drawn, and you should reference the flowchart for more information.

Although these are the standard symbols available in most flowchart software, some people do use different shapes for different meanings. The most common example of this is using circles to denote start and end. The examples in this flowchart tutorial will stick with the standard symbols.

How to Draw a Flowchart

How do you draw a flowchart? Well, our flowcharting tool is a good place to start. But before directly using the tool, let’s take a look at some basics.

There are four main types of flowcharts. Document flowchart, System flowchart, data flowchart, and program flowchart. Not everyone agrees with this categorization, but the core principles of drawing a flowchart remain the same. You need to consider a few things when drawing a flowchart, Check out 6 useful tips on drawing flowcharts before you start.

If you are drawing a flowchart with many responsible parties you can group them together using swimlanes. Swimlanes are a powerful technique to increase the readability of your flowchart so you should use them according to the situation. Read how to use cross-functional flowchart for planning to learn more about the process.

The below video shows how to draw a flowchart using Creately. It is very simple to use and one-click create and connect helps you draw them faster as well. You can drag and drop symbols from the library or drag images to your diagram by doing an image search.

Flowchart Templates and Examples

Although you can start drawing flowcharts by scratch it is much easier to use templates. They help you reduce errors and remind you about the best practices to follow. If you want to use a ready-made template, go to the flowchart examples section and click on the flowchart that best suits you. Click on the use at template after the image and you are ready to draw your flowchart.

Below are two templates out of hundreds of flowchart templates available to the user. Click on any of them to start drawing flowcharts immediately.

Meeting Flowchart Template
Meeting Flowchart Template (Click on the template to edit it online)
Student Application Process
Student Application Process (Click on the template to edit it online)
Horizontal Flowchart Template (Click on the template to edit it online)

Flowchart Best Practices

There are a few things you can do to make your flowchart universally accepted. And there are some things that you can do to make it visually pleasing to others as well.

If you’re planning to share your flowchart or hoping to use it on a presentation etc. then it’s wise to use standard symbols. However, it is important to remember that the idea is to give out information in an easy-to-understand manner. It is perfectly acceptable to use an alternative image instead of the document symbol as long as the audience understands it.

Keeping the arrow flow to one side, using the same size symbols, naming the decision blocks, processes, arrows, etc. are a few things you can do to make it better. The common mistakes section covers most of these practices in detail.

Map out any process, workflows, or system with ease. Dedicated shape library, drag and drop interface, and powerful diagramming for super-fast drawing.

Common Mistakes Made when Drawing Flowcharts

This section highlights the common mistakes made when drawing flowcharts. Some of the things mentioned here are to make it better looking and more understandable, not having them in your flowchart won’t make it wrong. Since there are two posts covering these mistakes in-depth I will link to them from this flowchart tutorial.

15 mistakes you would unintentionally make with flowcharts ( Part 1 )

15 mistakes you would unintentionally make with flowcharts ( Part 2 )

Effective Use of Flowcharts – Case Studies

A flowchart tutorial isn’t complete without some case studies. Below are three case studies and real-life examples of how flowcharts can help you make decisions.

Frequently Asked Questions About Flowchart

The comments section of this article is full of questions. Please note that I will not draw flowcharts for specific scenarios. Below I have answered some of the most frequently asked questions.

Q 01: What is a subprocess in a flowchart?

Answer: Sometimes complex processes are broken down into smaller sub-processes for clarity. So a flowchart can point to a different sub-process within its flow. The predefined process symbol is used to show such subprocesses.

Q 02: How are flowcharts used in computer programming?

Answer: A computer program consists of many processes and flows. Flowcharts are used to visualize the processes and make them understandable for non-technical people. They are also used to visualize algorithms and comprehend pseudo-code which is used in programming.

Comments and Feedback on the Flowchart Tutorial

I hope this flowchart tutorial will help you to come up with awesome flowcharts. Flowcharts are a great way to present complex processes in a simple-to-understand manner and they are used all over the world in many industries. If you have a question about drawing flowcharts or have any suggestions to improve this post, feel free to mention in the comments section.

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Software engineer turned tech evangelist. I handle marketing stuff here at Creately including writing blog posts and handling social media accounts. In my spare time, I love to read and travel.


  1. Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson

    Regarding conditionals – two rules interplay: the direction of the question and the meaning of the arrows. When both a desired condition (Yes) and expressed conditional (“Zipcode correct?”) are positives, and the flow moves in typical reading order (left to right), it’s super easy to follow the flow IMHO and easier to explain cascades of conditions.

  2. May Thin

    Hi, I’m May. I want to write a flowchart for my thesis matlab program. How do I write? Can you please tell me how to use symbols and where can I find the examples of flowchart?

  3. shady

    Pls can someone help me with the flow chat of an online meter acquisition and customer service management system and the data flow chat

  4. Larry Reeder

    What is the generally accepted way to display calls to javascript in a web application. For example how to show a click event. It’s not a linear event it’s on demand so it isn’t part of the flow necessarily.

    Thank you.

  5. JOHN L.

    I would like to shorten the time and effort it takes to document and make changes to written standard operating procedures (SOP). Would you please recommend (candidate) software that allows the writer to simultaneously write both the procedure (i.e., steps) and the flow chart. In other words, I would like to have the option to either first write the procedure, and have the software produce the corresponding flowchart (or vice-versa).

  6. diptirtha bose

    can someone send some flowchart problems for icse class 6 ??

  7. thayammal

    You have really helped my daughter for her exam

  8. Majdi

    Hello any body can help me to make a programming flow chart for this buzzell?
    num = e.g. 5 (it could be any number)
    out put to be

    highly appreciate.

  9. Danish Saifi

    Can u please tell me the functions of flowchart symbols?

  10. priscy

    can you draw a flow chart for; replacing a
    flat tire from your car

  11. jayenmelisse_maceda

    hmm,,,, can you help me to my problem,,,,,,,make a pseudocode and flowchart that has a program called “calculator”,,

    input format

    “calculator program”
    enter a number of your choice…

    guuys i need your help,,,pm me in fb….jayen melisse maceda….

    i pass this tommorow

    • Muhammad Zafar

      enter first number
      enter second number
      is the division calculation?
      Check denominator==0
      THEN Show Math Error!
      Show Answer
      End Program

  12. rogel nathaniel

    hi I’m Rogel I’m working on how to make a flowchart on libraries and I don’t know where to start. Can you give me some tips?

  13. joekingoli

    prepare a program to print all prime numbers between 1-7inclusive

  14. petronella chikotsi

    l want the steps taken to produce a flowchart

  15. Raj

    Thanks a lot for this tutorial. Many of us take it for granted when it comes to flowcharts. But here is some stuff which really claer our doubt. Thanks again!

  16. Boateng Michael

    Hi, am Michael and am now learning the progaramming please can you help me


    I have serious problems with flowchart,algorithms n programming.plss need help

  18. jessa monares

    i have learned a lot.thanks 4 this guide.

  19. Jibrilla Ad

    Thanks for the work well done. this is a great guide I learn alot. keep it up.

  20. Carl Harris

    I always stuck and lazy to understand the definition of flowchart symbol but your post is definitely a useful reference.

  21. Dyan Gullas

    Im having a hard time answering these. Can you please help me? Im new in flowcharting.

    *create a flowchart that will ask for a numeric value and displays the product

    *create a flowchart that ask for personal information and displays it.

  22. holly

    Excellent post. Thanks

  23. ashutosh

    i am student of B.C.A and i have found a lot of difculty with flowchart,
    such how to put condition.?

  24. Uzi


    We would like to create a document that is made of two parts one next to the other: on the left there will be the code of a software, and on the right there will be a flow chart of the program. Then we would like to link parts of the code on the left to the corresponding element in the flow chart. On top of the page there will be two buttons “>>” and “<>” button would reveal a part from the code on the left, and the corresponding part of the flow chart. A click on the “<> and <<. Is that doable?

    The end product should be posted on a web page as html5 (not flash).
    Also, we need a designer who knows how to work with Creately, as we don't have the skills or the manpower. Do you have access to a database of freelances who can do the work for us using Creately?

    Can you help? Thanks,

  25. User

    what this symbol mean:

    | \
    | \
    | /
    | /

  26. huma

    hey i want flw diagram of online testing

  27. Mani Nilchiani

    Thanks a lot for the tutorial. Great go to place fot a quickstart.

  28. MANJU

    good and very useful

  29. omar

    im sorry to disturb you but can u tell me how to draw a flowchart that switches between two numbers a,b,please tell me its soooo important ,u can mail me the answer


  30. Princess27

    hey can u make this into a flowchart…and how please tell me the order of symbols needed to us…Draw a flowchart that converts the input value of a dollar into its equivalent peso. Assume that one dollar is equivalent to Php44.50. Display the result.

  31. Ebenezer

    im a newbie in flowcharting. pls i need clue to solve these problems:
    (1) sketch a flowchart to implement the pseudo-code on moving average of M samples
    (2) sketch flowchart to implement the pseudo-code for finding factorial of a number x
    (3) sketch a flowchart to implement the pseudo-code on finding the roots of a quadriatic equation ax2+bx+c=0

  32. Nishadha

    Hi Jason,
    Have a look at our Gantt chart templates , it’s a good place to start your research.

  33. Jason

    hi, I’m doing research on a Gantt chart but I do not know which example/template suits my requirement best any help would be highly appreciated.

  34. Briana Leeder

    Great writing! I need to draw some flawchart and I will try to follow your suggestions

  35. Charan

    Thanks Nishadha – you done a great job of putting these together and considering all the pitfalls a flowchart newbie might face.

  36. […] a great alternative to Visio and the blog has some great articles on diagramming similar to this flowchart guide. 0 […]

  37. Flowcharts are easy to remember. You give us great guide on it.
    Thanks buddy for sharing.

  38. Hi friend, I love this great drawing tool that you’ve just shared with us here. Thanks a ton for that and I will start using Creately as well.

    • lenore Liburd

      I need help with creation a pseudocade and flowchart for car class especially when you call the accelerate and speed five times

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