How to Create an Organizational Chart

Making an org chart doesn't have to be hard. Here are the basic steps to creating an organizational chart:

  1. Start with an organizational chart template you can easily modify and add to.
  2. Add names, titles, and other information to boxes.
  3. Add more shapes to finish the structure of your organization.
  4. Once your organizational chart is ready, share it to collaborate with your team on succession or other HR issues. Or distribute your visual by inserting it into PowerPoint®, Word®, Excel® or any Google Workspace app easily.

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Getting Started

To create an organizational chart in SmartDraw, select an Org Chart template from the Org Charts category under New Document on the dashboard.

Every SmartDraw template has set of tool palettes docked to the left of your workspace called the SmartPanel. This SmartPanel contains all the tools, libraries, and shortcuts you'll need to build and edit your organizational chart.

Org chart template

Adding an Org Chart to Any Existing Diagram

Alternatively, you can add an organizational chart to any other diagram by choosing Org Chart from the Add Diagram BluePrint palette. You can access this by clicking on the plus sign in the Left Bar, the controls to the left of the SmartPanel of any open diagram.

SmartDraw's workspace can contain multiple diagrams simultaneously. The SmartPanel and its associated tool palettes dynamically adjust to show the tools you need for the type of diagram selected in the workspace.

Organizational chart blueprint

Drawing Your Chart

The template opens with a starter org chart already in place. A panel on the left, called the SmartPanel, has a set of tool palettes and symbols needed to finish your diagram.

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 everyone.

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 press [CTRL] and the right arrow. Alternatively, hover over any employee until you see yellow arrows, also known as quick action controls, appear. Click the arrow in the direction you want to add another peer.

When you add a peer, between two existing peers, the remaining boxes will move to accommodate it and SmartDraw will reformat the entire chart for you, automatically.

Add org chart peers

Add a direct report under any selected level by pressing [CTRL] and the down arrow. Alternatively, hover over any employee until you see yellow arrows, also known as quick action controls, appear. Click the down arrow to add a new direct report.

You can easily add more reports under a specific manager by hitting the [ENTER] key as long as one report is already selected. This will add more peers at the same level.

You can continue building your org chart just by using your keyboard, adding reports and peers 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

Removing a Position

To delete a position or employee, select it and hit the delete key. The remaining boxes will re-arrange themselves automatically.

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.

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

Add assistant to manager

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

Different Branch Styles

You can also modify the style of individual branches to create a unique look or to make a more compact design. Select the branch you want to change the style of by clicking on the line connecting all the employees. Next, choose a different style from the Branch Style drop-down on the SmartPanel. SmartDraw will automatically adjust the spacing on your entire chart to make room for the new style. Just pick a style and let SmartDraw do the work for you. You will not have to move or reconnect boxes manually.

Change 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.

Change org chart orientation

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.

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

Add picture to org chart

Adjust Spacing

When you create an organizational chart or mind map with SmartDraw, new shapes are automatically connected to other shapes at regular intervals using a special line we call an "automatic connector."

Even as you move or delete shapes, the chart will heal itself and rearrange the remaining shapes automatically.

If you need to adjust this automatic spacing to create less or more space between branches there are new controls to help you.

When you select a shape, you'll now see green icons in the upper left corner. One will have an up and down arrow and the other left and right arrow. Click on either icon and without letting go of your mouse drag them up or down or left or right to adjust the spacing of that particular branch relative to the other branches either above or to the side of the selected shape.

Adjust spacing on an org chart

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

Add Your Organizational Chart to PowerPoint®, Word®, and Other Office Products

Share your org chart in a variety of common graphics formats such as a PDF or PNG. Export it to any Office® application in one click.

Choose "Export" under the "Home" tab and click on "Export to Office."

You can also share your chart with anyone with a simple link. They won't even need SmartDraw or to create an account to see your diagram.

Learn more about creating organizational charts for MS Office products:

MS Office Integration for SmartDraw
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