Introduction to Diagramming with Microsoft Visio

Since our goal is to make nifty block diagrams, click the Block Diagram category, then click Block Diagram (US Units). As much as I love the Metric system, most of my diagrams are in Imperial. So unless specified otherwise, all the diagrams in this series will be using the US Units templates.

You’re now looking at the Block Diagram template, with three (green) stencils on the left hand side of the screen. Remember the green plastic Rotring stencils you used in school to draw circles and triangles? Well, they’re back, and on steroids. The blue area is known as the Pasteboard. Consider it a scratch area; things in the Pasteboard don’t print. About 3/4 of the tool buttons are pretty obvious, so we’ll get to them later in the series.

To create the diagram using the pre-defined stencil shapes, simply drag a shape onto the page. Use The Force (AKA Snap to Grid) to help you position the shape as you see fit. You’ll feel it guide your movements.

To begin our drawing, let’s choose more interesting shapes. Click on the Blocks Raised stencil title to slide it open. Drag the Frame shape onto the page, so that its upper left hand corner is at 1” on the horizontal ruler and 10” on the vertical ruler. I’ll just use Cartesian (x, y) coordinates from now on, so the previous location would be written as (1”, 10”). Since the shape is still selected, simply type “Customer Transactions”. Notice Visio zooms in automatically so you can read the text. Press the Esc key on your keyboard to finish text entry. Visio zooms out to your previous magnification. You can see the frame is not wide enough to show the text in the empty space.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.