See problems 81 and tba.


What We Want to Learn in this Lab

  1. How to (efficiently and neatly) draw flow charts in MS Office
  2. Other tools out there
  3. How to implement flow charts in Excel

Power Point

The drawing tools across Microsoft Office are almost identical. Since we were most recently playing in PowerPoint, we'll start there.

1. Open a new PP presentation. Create a new slide. Make its style BLANK.


2. We will create a simple flow chart for the logic "if it Tuesday, this must be Belgium, otherwise we are lost." Start with an entry node and an exit node (small circles) - use copy and paste to make them the same size.

  • To draw a circle, insert>shape>basic shapes>Insert Oval and then hold down the SHIFT key while drawing. In general, holding down SHIFT makes vertical and horizontal dimension of object the same (use it to draw circles and squares instead of ellipses and rectangles).
  • Now let's format these geometric objects as we would like them and set a default shape style.
  • My choice will be FILL=Background 2 (beige), LINE=Accent 2 (maroon), and I will get rid of the shadow.
  • Next I am going to set this as my shape default format for polygons.
  • Finally, I will format-copy this via the paintbrush to make the other circle like this one.
  • And then put a "black box" action rectangle in between.
  • I'll nicely align these objects first aligning their centers horizontally and then distributing them vertically.

3. Next we put connector arrows into the diagram.

  • Insert > Shape > Lines and Connectors > Arrow. These connectors are nice because they attach to handles on my circles, rectangles, diamonds. Create one and then pull its end vertices to the bottom (6 o'clock position) on the entry circle and the 12 o'clock position on the rectangle.
  • Before adding a second arrow, let's create a default shape style. With the arrow selected either right click to get Format Shape or find it up on the menu ribbon. On the left click on LINE and then select solid and a color (I choose Text 2 50% - a medium dark gray) and then under the Weights and Arrows tab select 1pt weight. Under "Shadow" uncheck the box to get rid of the shadow. Done/OK/etc. to get back to your diagram. Right click to set default shape for lines and connectors.
  • Lastly, right click in the rectangle to add some text for a label.

4. REFINEMENT 2. Select all. Group. Copy. Paste. Move. Stretch symmetrically (not necessary step, but just so you see how that works). Ungroup.

  • Select begin node and move upward (mouse or up arrow key) and the end node and move downward.
  • Put in the connectors: Insert > Shape > Lines and Connectors > Elbow Arrow Connector. Create one and format its line properties as you did with the arrow. Then connect its ends - the start to the left end of the diamond and the arrow to the top center (12 o'clock) on the rectangle on that side.
  • ALIGNMENT: Move "Belgium" and "Lost" horizontally to about where you want them. Select both and align:middle so they are vertically aligned. Now make them a group (cntrl-G). Now select the group and the diamond and the terminating node for this group and align:distribute vertically.
  • Finally, select the entry node, the diamond, the group, and the terminal node and align:center to line them up vertically.

Lucid Chart

There are lots of applications out there for drawing flow charts and their ilk. One nice one is called "Lucid Chart." Either today or on your own, go to and register for a free account, and play around with it. If you like, use it for your assignments, exams, etc. (NOTE: these instructions formulated for earlier version of Lucid Chart so some details might be wrong.)

  1. Under My Documents, click on Create (New Document)
  2. Select Blank Flowchart and name it surname-problem-71
  3. Select a connector circle and label it "Begin" and then a decision diamond labeled "Tuesday?" and action rectangles for the yes branch (left) and no branch (right). Add a connector labeled "End" to close the structure at the bottom.
  4. Pull an arrow out of the bottom of the start circle and connect it to the top of the diamond. Then pull connectors out of the sides of the diamond and connect them to the top of the rectangles. If the connectors default to curved arrows, use the buttons at the top of the page to make them square elbow arrows.
  5. Select a color and set the fill for each of the shapes in the diagram.
  6. Add a text box and insert the problem number and text to make this a self-documenting page.
  7. Save your diagram (it saves it inside LucidChart). And then under the same menu select "Download as…" and PNG as format and with the option "Crop to content." For now, screen quality is fine.
  8. Once downloaded, insert it in your lab document (use Word's Insert>Picture functionality OR screenshots, paste, and crop).

Deliverable for Portfolio

Apply some of these skills to sketching solutions for, for example, problems 73, 88, 89, 90 and/or other problems from this week or from first exam. Copy enough into a portfolio document to demonstrate your competence in using software to draw flowcharts.

Implementing Flow Chart Logic in Excel

Consider a flow chart describing the following animal classification process:
How many legs does it have. If it has no legs then does it have a shell? If so, it's a snail, if not it is a snake. If it has two legs then does it speak? If so, it's human, if not, an ape. And if if it has four legs and it has a shell then it is a turtle otherwise it is a cat.

Proceding by stepwise refinement we would begin thus:


The two black boxes shown here can be refined:


One of these contains two further black boxes and we refine them like this:


So that when we put it all together we get this:


Implementing a Classification Flow Chart in Excel

Suppose we have data on a bunch of animals - number of legs, whether they speak, and whether they have a shell. Can we write an Excel formula that will identify them based on this data? HINT: using the above flow chart.

Let's create a worksheet that looks like this:


We will create a single formula that classifies each case…