Flowchart Symbols

Flowchart Symbols and their usage

This is an overview of all the flowchart symbols that you will use when drawing flowcharts and process flow. All these objects are available in Creately and you can try out a demo or take a look at some sample flowcharts for more context.

Terminal / Terminator

The terminator is used to show where your flow begins or ends. Ideally, you would use words like ‘Start’, ‘Begin’, ‘End’ inside the terminator object to make things more obvious.

Process / Rectangle

Flowchart Process object is used to illustrate a process, action or an operation. These are represented by rectangles; and the text in the rectangle mostly includes a verb. Examples include ‘Edit video’, ‘Try Again’, ‘Choose your Plan’.

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

Decision object is represented as a Diamond. This object is always used in a process flow to as 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 be always labelled to avoid confusion in the process flow.


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 which 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

This is an object which 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

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 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.

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Case Study - FlutterScape | Creately

Web-based Flowcharts help Japanese startup integrate with partners faster

FlutterScape is a Japanese Social Marketplace which brings together sellers and buyers together in a casual and collaborative way. This give sellers the power to share their product discoveries, and expose buyers to unique products from abroad. FlutterScape is a small team with 3 internet enthusiasts who are passionate about improving the customer experience of both sellers and buyers.

Visual communication is one of the best ways of conveying abstract ideas across to the team. Takehiro Kakiyama, Co-founder and CEO of FlutterScape, had to visualize the business model, website eco-system and other logic to his team and clients. Having used PowerPoint initially, he wasn’t too happy. “It was really difficult for me to come up with a nice looking chart and flow diagram; it was time consuming and unfriendly in terms of sharing and collaboration. So google some keywords and learned about Creately”. said Takehiro Kakiyama.

With Creately’s online collaboration capability inviting team members and clients to collaborate on diagrams to review, comment and update diagrams is so easy.

When the team of FlutterScape considered to outsource their logistic layer, they negotiated the international shipping fee with possible logistic partners. The rate depended on the amount of operation they had to do for shipping packages.

Shipment required many use cases, so they used Creately to map out a shipment process flowchart based on the business model. They shared this flowchart model with the manager of the logistic company; on which he added/removed/suggested use cases based on their capability and experience. Then the FlutterScape team validated all the use cases - in case they failed to dispatch the package ‘cos its over-sized; or in case they shipped out the wrong article and the customer returns it to the logistic partner? In order to determine a smooth and effective process flow between FlutterScape and their logistic partner, they had to draw a shipment process flow before hand.

Creately’s online diagramming platform helped the team collaborate back and forth online and determine the international shipping rate based on the process flow.

Below is a simplified version of the Shipment Process Flow.


"The contribution of Creately to our business could not be measured in definite matrix but it has totally contributed to my efficiency whereby I saved a lot of time, leaving time to work on something else while Ari, my co-founder  and I were super hectic taking care of multiple tasks at the pre-launch stage. Thank you, Creately team!” concluded Takehiro Kakiyama. “Creately is a very user-friendly and smart service that really hits the spot. Creately is like “love”, so deep that the more you dig in, the more you can find out! “

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Flowchart Ideas for Small Businesses

Flowcharts are simple and easy-to-understand diagrams illustrating the logical sequence in a process. They help you communicate how processes work; map out logical steps in a process; and figure out ways to improve the process.

Here are some flowchart examples. All of them created with Creately’s online diagramming software! Drag-n-Drop Flowchart symbols to make a flowchart in minutes, and with Creately’s 1- click styling features and smart connectors anyone can create logical diagrams to document processes.

And, with the easy to use Flowcart templates, Swim Lane Templates and Work Flow templates flowcharting is a breeze on Creately. Check the 10 best examples to see some of the processes which are so easy to map out with flowcharts.

1) Flowchart to explain Creately

2) Creately’s Goal Funnel Flow

3) Recruitment Process Flow

4) Process Model of University Admission

5) Business Process Model

6) Social Media Flow Chart

7) Video Uploading Process

8) Creately’s Customer Support Process

9) Credit Card Transaction Process

10) After Sales Service Process

These are just a handful of ideas, but if you’d like to take your flowcharting experience to the next level get your Free Creately Account today.

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Flowcharts for Strategic Decision Making

Our decision making skills are put to good use to solve problems and make choices. Making a decision implies choosing one course of action that has the highest probability of success from several alternative choices. The most difficult task in decision making involves picking the desired alternative by keeping the level of uncertainty low. But, very few decisions are made with absolute certainty because complete knowledge about the alternatives is hardly available. Thus, decision making involves risk taking, but the degree of risk involved varies between alternatives.

When you are building a software solution to solve a particular problem, you need to be focused on solving the problem and solving it well. Here at Creately, we chose to use a third party solution to complete a product that we were working on. In the excitement of getting the product out, we signed up with a 3rd party service without brainstorming on the list of other available alternatives. Once we executed the decision, we realised our mistakes. Lesson learned the hard way indeed!

This is exactly when we decided to use flowcharts in our decision making process. As flowcharting is considered to be a proven method in documenting processes, we adopted this to brainstorm, evaluate and identify the best alternative possible.

Below is an example of a typical flowchart used in decision making. This would help us evaluate the consequences of each alternative. 

How to decide on<br />  choosing a 3rd party solution.

Now are you trying to figure out the best online flowchart drawing software? Great, check Creately for free now to see how Creately works out to be the best alternative in drawing quick flowcharts online.

With Creately’s pre-drawn flowchart templates, smart flowchart symbols, 1-Click Create-N-Connect feature and the powerful interface make flowcharting is a breeze on Creately. Give it a try and you’ll soon love yourself for this.

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Tips on Drawing Flowcharts

Flowcharts are fairly simple things. Before I wrote this, I almost thought “Hey, who’d ever need a tutorial on how to draw a flowchart? It’s too simple and it’ll probably need one line to explain.” Well… not really. There’s more to flowcharts than simple shapes and arrows connecting them if you want to get the idea across. Some tips below to help you create better flowcharts that get the message across:

Identify why you are drawing the Flowchart(s)

You may be drawing it to explain a process to someone, to understand a process, to find loopholes in a flow and so on. It is important to identify the objective on why you want a flowchart for this.


Are there many ‘actors’ involved?

If there are different responsible parties (or things) involved in each step, you might want to convey that information clearly with a Swimlane flowchart. They help clarify who / what is responsible for each step quite easily.

If you have many actors (say more than 6), it might be better to generalize them if possible. Ex. rather than having two columns for Sally or Rob at HR department, just group them into the HR department. Again, it all depends on who the audience is.


On Swimlanes, Creately has some neat tricks that automatically glues shapes to swimlanes so you don’t miss them when resizing etc.

Decide on the start and end points of the flowchart

As trivial as it may sound, a flow with random endings is more confusing than it helps. So choose the objectives and keep it simple.


Break it down into multiple flows

Very long flowcharts can cause the reader to overlook the details that you are actually trying to convey. It is best to break down a flowchart into sub-flows. Use the connector and inbuilt link feature to create automatically linked documents with sub-flows in Creately.


Get your team on-board

Documenting processes or planning steps requires careful review and thinking. You can use Creately’s inbuilt collaboration features to help kick this process off easily.


Use colors meaningfully

You can color code your flowchart objects to convey things like Risk involved, Who’s responsible, Process state (Draft/Final), basically anything you want. But always remember to include a legend on the corner so everyone knows how to read the chart.



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Top 10 Flowchart Ideas for your Small Business

Top 10 Flowchart Ideas for your Small Business

Flowcharting is all about drawing simple and easy-to-understand diagrams illustrating the logical sequence in a process. Flowcharts help you communicate and document how processes work; and mapping out the logical steps in a process also helps you figure out ways to improve the process.

Here are ten best examples of Flowcharts that would come in handy. All of them created with Creately’s online diagramming software! With the easy to use Flowchart symbols, Swim Lane Templates and Work Flow templates flowcharting is a breeze on Creately. Anyone can create logical diagrams to document processes. It’s amazingly easy! Check the examples below to see some of the processes which are so easy to map out with flowcharts.

1) Understanding Creately


For those of you who haven’t heard of Creately, this is the time to learn about Creately through this simple Flowchart.

2) Creately’s Goal Funnel Flow

Goal Funnel Flowchart

If you want to see how your website Goal Funnel really works, check out this flowchart. This is an example of Creately’s Goal Funnel.

3) Recruitment Process

recruitment flow chart

With Creately’s 1- click styling features and smart connectors I managed to put together this simple flow chart to explain the recruitment process in under 3 minutes.

4) University Admission Process

University Admissions Chart

Drag-n-Drop Creately’s Data Flow symbols to draw a simple Data Flow  Diagram. This DFD shows the flow of data involved in a Student’s University Admission.

5) Purchase Order Process

BPM chart

Creately is loaded with Business Process Symbols too! Easy to use shapes and interactive interface helps you create Business Process Models at a blazing speed!

6) Flowchart on Social Media

Social Media Flowchart

Yet another exciting flowchart depicting the process involved in Social Media interaction.

7) Video Uploading Process

Thinking of uploading a video could be a pain, but the whole process looks extremely easy through this simple flowchart.


8 ) Creately’s Customer Support Process

Support Process Flowchart

Beautiful interface makes creating Swim Lane diagrams an ease on Creately. Don’t miss out on this Swim Lane diagram, it would help you understand Creately’s Customer Support process.

9) Credit Card Transaction Process

Credit Card Transaction flow

Ever wondered how a Credit Card Transaction is processed? Check this simple Swim Lane diagram to understand the distinct transaction steps and parties involved.

10) After Sales Service Process

After Sales Service Process Flow

Another Swim Lane diagram. With the 1-Click connect feature, I’ve managed to put up a Swim Lane diagram illustrating the After Sales Service process.

These are just some of the types of flowcharts you can create with Creately.com, watch out for Mind Maps next time. And let us know what more you’d like to see.

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Flowcharts & Worklow Diagrams | Creately

Creately is an online flowcharting software. It comes with an intelligent interface and easy start ready-made Flowchart templates to create professional looking Flowcharts & Workflow Diagrams in minutes.

Try Creately for Flowcharts

Here are some flowchart and process flow diagram examples created with Creately. Like what you see? Then check out why Creately is the easiest software for creating fast and professional Flowcharts online.

Flowchart Example

Professional Flowchart

Workflow Diagram

Flowchart Template

Flowchart Template

Flowchart Template

Business Process Diagram

BPM Diagram

Discover Creately for Flowcharts and Workflow Diagrams.

Try Creately for Online UI Mockups

Start creating professional looking Flowcharts by signing up for Creately - web-based Flowcharting tool.

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