Flowchart Symbols

Although the use and definition of flowchart symbols can vary widely - here are some of the most common, along with their definition.


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Basic Flowchart Symbols

Process Symbol

The Process Symbol represents any process, function, or action and is the most frequently used symbol in flowcharting.

Document Symbol

The Document Symbol is used to represent any type of hard copy input or output (i.e. reports).

Offpage Symbol

Offpage Connector Symbols are used to indicate the flowchart continues on another page. Often, the page number is placed in the shape for easy reference.

Input/Output Symbol

The Input/Output Symbol represents data that is available for input or resulting from processing (i.e. customer database records).

Comment Symbol

Comment Symbols are used when additional explanation or comment is required. This symbol is usually connected to the symbol it is explaining by a dashed line.

Decision Symbol

The Decision Symbol is a junction where a decision must be made. A single entry may have any number of alternative solutions, but only one can be chosen.

Connector symbol

The Connector Symbol represents the exit to, or entry from, another part of the same flowchart. It is usually used to break a flow line that will be continued elsewhere. It's a good idea to reference page numbers for easy location of connectors.

Standard vs Non-Standard Flow Chart Symbols

Although standards have been established (i.e. ISO, ANSI), people deviate form these standards to suit their own needs.  In many cases, individual companies develop standards for their internal use. Remember, the key to flowcharting is consistency!  If you choose to use a symbol in a non-standard fashion, make sure you do it consistently so the reader of the chart knows your meaning for that symbol every time they see it. In the end, there is no "one" definition for flowcharting symbols.



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