How to Create an Organizational Chart

Almost any drawing software has tools for creating boxes and lines but you have to manually place the boxes on the page and connect them with lines using a mouse. Editing a chart can also be painstaking. If you want to insert a new box, you have to manually move the others out of the way.

You also have to know how to properly format an org chart.

Visio and its imitators all work this way. Creating an organization chart is time-consuming and, unless you spend considerable time to become an expert user, it is difficult to draw a professional-looking org chart.

SmartDraw understands proper organization chart rules and applies them for you, automatically.

Before reading the tutorial, watch this video (which is less than three minutes long) for a quick overview of how to draw an organizational chart with SmartDraw.

Org Chart Video

Getting Started

Before SmartDraw can automatically format your organizational chart, it needs to know that you want to make this kind of diagram, so the first step is to select Org Chart from the list of templates on the home panel.

Org chart template

Drawing Your Chart

The template opens with a starter chart already in place. A panel on the left, called the SmartPanel, has all the commands you need to build your chart.

You can also create your organizational chart by importing data, learn how.

Org chart controls

Add Names

To add a name to a shape, just click in the box and type.

You can use the [TAB] or arrow keys to navigate to the other boxes and fill in the names and titles of the people reporting directly to the CEO.

Add org chart names

Add Peers and Direct Reports

To add a peer at a specific level, select an existing employee at that level and hit the Add Right button in the SmartPanel or press [CTRL] and the right arrow.

Add org chart peers

Add a direct report under any selected level by hitting Add Below or press [CTRL] and the down arrow. You can easily add more reports under a specific manager by hitting the [ENTER] key as long as one report is already selected. You can continue building the chart, adding reports where necessary and SmartDraw will format the chart automatically for you.

Note that there is no need to draw lines. SmartDraw draws them for you as you add positions. The boxes are all perfectly sized, spaced and aligned. Your chart is presentation-quality from the beginning. Moving and inserting positions is automatic, too.

Add org chart report

Inserting a Position

To insert a position, simply use the command to add one. The remaining boxes will move to accommodate it and SmartDraw will reformat the entire chart for you, automatically.

Add org chart position Add org chart box

Removing a Position

To delete a position or employee, select it and hit the delete key. The remaining boxes will re-arrange themselves automatically. For example, if the VP of Sales box is deleted the chart will change automatically to this:

Delete org chart position

Rearranging Your Chart

If you want to make changes to any of the positions within the chart, it's as easy as dragging the box to where you want it to go: up a level, down a level or side to side. Simply select the box you want to move and without letting go of the mouse move it around on the page. As you move it, you'll see SmartDraw's automatic connectors trying to grab the shape. A dotted outline of the shape and the connector lines will appear showing you where it would attach. To finish moving the shape, simply let go of the mouse and it will drop into position. SmartDraw will keep your chart neat and orderly.

Move org chart shape

Adding an Assistant

Some people like to format an assistant to a position in a special way, adding the assistant box below the position but above the other positions that report to it.

Add assistant to manager

SmartDraw has a special command to create an assistant. Select the position that manages the assistant and click the "Add Assistant" Button.

Add assistant button

Adding a Co-Manager

Sometimes two (or more) people manage a group. The group has co-managers. SmartDraw has a special command to add a co-manager to a manager position, and formats it like this.

Add org chart co-manager

Making All the Boxes the Same Size

Organization charts look better when all boxes are the same size. SmartDraw has a special button for this too.

Make org chart boxes the same size

Fitting an Organization Chart onto One Page

SmartDraw automatically formats an organization chart to use space on the page as efficiently as possible, by switching third level positions to a columnar format like this:

Formatted org chart

Instead of using the horizontal format for all levels like this:

Horizontal org chart

You can change these settings using the Branch Style command, if you choose.

Org chart branch style

Changing Orientation

Sometimes it makes more sense to view an organizational chart from side to side instead of top to bottom. SmartDraw allows you to instantly change the orientation of your chart with a simple command. With ordinary drawing software, you'd be forced to rebuild the entire chart. To change the direction, click on the Chart Direction drop down in the SmartPanel and select your chart's orientation.

Vertical org chart

Add Photos

Communicate more than organizational structure by adding photos for each position. Put a face to that name. With SmartDraw you can do it with just a few clicks. First, select the position you want to add a photo to and then click Add Picture in the SmartPanel.

Add picture to org chart

You'll be able to browse to a photo on your computer and insert it into your chart.

Browse for org chart photo

To scale or crop your photo, double click on it and you'll see a slider appear that will let you pan, change the zoom or click on the crop tool to crop your inserted photo.

Scale org chart photo

Alternatively, you can click on the Picture tab in the upper ribbon area and change the brightness and other features of your photo.

To replace a photo, just insert a new one. To delete it completely, double-click on the photo and hit the delete button. You'll notice that the shape is still divided into two cells. To fix this, select the shape and right-click on it. Next, choose Join Cells from the menu that appears and you're done.
Picture tab

Changing the Appearance of Your Organizational Chart

Now that you've built the framework of your chart, here are some tips for dressing it up.

Org chart theme

SmartDraw automatically applies professional design themes for you, but also gives you complete control to customize your org chart in any way you want.

Change the entire look of your chart by applying a new design theme with just one click.

Or change the look of individual shapes instantly by selecting a new Quick Style. Choose from more than 40 pre-set designs.

Org chart style

Sharing Your Org Chart with Others

If you want to share your org chart with others, you can do so with a single click. You can send any SmartDraw visual to PowerPoint®, Word®, Excel®, or Outlook® using the buttons at the top of your work area.

MS Office Integration

You can also publish your chart to your entire organization as an interactive web page. All SmartDraw documents are backed up to your online SmartDraw account automatically. You can publish this online version to anyone you choose, and they can view it on their web browser and even mobile devices like phones and tablets.

Online org chart