Some Flowchart Symbols That You Should Know

If you are new to learning flowchart symbols or when you see some symbols and do not know what they mean you might be scratching your head .That’s because flowchart symbols can vary from program to program but there are a few that are pretty much universally recognized by flowchart users everywhere. Here, we’ll take a look at the flowchart symbols everyone needs to know.

Basic Flowchart Symbols

A flowchart is a visual representation of steps and decisions needed to perform a particular task. There are four basic symbols you’ll see in most professionally drawn charts: diamonds, rectangles, rounded rectangles and arrows. The diamond represents a decision point; you can go left or right depending on your answer to whatever question has been posed at that point in your process. Rounded rectangles represent steps in a process (and their name pretty much says it all). Arrows show how information moves from one step to another and for all but arrowheads, that directionality must be clear. Because we’re already talking about advanced concepts, let’s look at two more things that could come up as you create more complex processes with multiple levels of branching: merge points and parallel flows. Merge points look like T-intersections where two flows meet. It can be useful to think of them as coming together into a single new branch rather than as two distinct paths converging into one existing branch like an intersection might imply.

Intermediate Process Flowchart Symbols

Here are some of those more intermediate process flow chart symbols that we mentioned: The box with parallel lines inside of it is used when a task has more than one phase (part or segment). The four-way arrow represents processing where data goes in, is processed and then flows out in any direction. Keep an eye out for terms like ‘initiate’, ‘compute’ and ‘generate’. If you see these words on your flowchart diagramming project, you’ll know what kind of symbol to use. The triangle/triangle pointing left means start. Don’t be surprised if you’re asked for flowchart symbols for different programming languages or software programs. Use your imagination here; just make sure you know how to match up your symbol with a program’s functionality so it makes sense for non-technical people too!

Advanced Process Flowchart Symbols

Once you get comfortable with these above-mentioned symbols, you can start learning about some more advanced process flowchart symbols. These include: feedback loops, processing sequences, parallel processing sequences, and subprocesses (more on each of these here). In many ways, advanced process flowcharts are similar to basic flowcharts. The main difference is that they show more of a sequential process than a cycle. Even so, because they have fewer options for representing an action or decision point, they’re often easier to read than other types of charts once you know how to interpret them. If you’re trying to figure out which type of chart will work best for your project, think about whether there will be any information that’s repeated multiple times or whether it’s likely people will need to refer back to previous steps in order to proceed further along in the process. If so, then an advanced flowchart may make sense.

Final Thoughts

The flowchart is a simple, condensed way of representing business processes. When executed well, they can be an essential tool for explaining difficult concepts in business but they are also often misused. In order to best utilise flowcharts when communicating ideas, it’s essential that you understand their common flowchart symbols and constructions. You can also use  software like ZenFlowchart which is a great solution. With ZenFlowchart, you can easily create simple yet effective flow charts as per your requirements. So, go ahead on their official website and make your innovative flow charting solutions on ZenFlowchart!

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