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What is a flowchart?

A flowchart is a visual sketch or diagram that shows all the steps in a process or system.


By svg by Booyabazooka original png by Wapcaplet via Wikimedia Commons

Why do we need flowcharts?

A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Our brains can visualize an idea or process with visual graphics better than they can understand pages full of just words. Flowcharts use a set of symbols to organize processes or ideas in a visual manner. This graphic can then explain a process clearly and even give you the gist of a process flow in a single glance.

Who uses flowcharts?

Flowcharts are widely used across subjects and work disciplines where logic is used,  to document, study, plan, improve and communicate complex processes in clear, easy-to-understand diagrams. They can range from simple, hand-drawn charts to complex, computer-drawn diagrams with multiple steps and routes. Flowcharts are one of the most common diagrams on the planet, used by both technical and non-technical people in numerous fields.

A rose by any other name…

While flowchart is the most common name for these diagrams, they can also be called flow charts (yes, with a space), process maps, functional diagrams (since they describe the function of a process), business process mapping or modeling and process flow diagram. Just like their names, some of these variations may be more complex than others.

What standard symbols and shapes are used in flowcharts?

Rectangles, ovals, diamonds among other shapes are used to define the type of step, along with connecting arrows to define flow and sequence. Generally, flowcharts flow from top to bottom and left to right.

flowchart symbols infographic



Prefer watching a video? Here’s my YouTube video on Flowcharts:

Want to learn more about the basics of computer science?


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