How To Create an Org Chart in Excel (With Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published October 21, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Businesses often use Microsoft Excel to enter and maintain important information. In the program, you can find the option to create organizational charts that can help you improve data storage and accessibility. Org charts are also helpful tools for maintaining employee databases. In this article, we discuss what org charts are, how to create an org chart in Excel and what to consider when evaluating these informational tools.

What is an org chart?

An organizational chart shows the relationship or reporting hierarchy of a company's operations. Excel org charts provide simple functions that allow you to track various structures, roles and functions of departments, teams and even between different district locations. This organizational tool is often effective for transitional changes, too, as businesses can create org charts to detail new roles, tasks and functions that occur due to organizational change.

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Why create org charts?

Creating an org chart in Excel is an effective way to outline important processes, tasks and data that businesses use to report finances, create budgets and plan strategies. Several more reasons to use an org chart include:

  • Planning projects: Many businesses use organizational charts to plan projects, assign tasks and monitor completion.

  • Outlining departmental tasks: Org charts are also useful for organizing the responsibilities of employees across a company's different departments, including sales, marketing, finance and management.

  • Tracking employee and manager workflow: You can also use org charts for tracking individual, team and management workflow to better evaluate productivity.

  • Evaluating department or team functions: Many businesses also use org charts to outline the main functions and goals of different departments.

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How to create an org chart in Excel

Use the following steps to create a basic Excel org chart:

1. Use the SmartArt feature

Open a new Excel worksheet and navigate to the menu bar at the top of the page. Select the “Insert” option, which gives you options to insert various elements into your spreadsheet. For org charts, click on the SmartArt icon. This gives you a drop-down menu with several features. Select the “Hierarchy” option to display different types of org charts.

2. Choose a layout

The "Hierarchy" option gives you several types of layouts to choose from for your chart. Some layouts feature a vertical hierarchy, while others read horizontally. When you choose your layout, insert it into your spreadsheet. Both horizontal and vertical alignments allow you to arrange your text boxes in the order you need them.

3. Enter text to the boxes in the chart

Type in the data for each element you include in your chart. Use separate lines for multiple data points within the text boxes by pressing "Enter" after each value, such as a name or specific task. You can also enter your chart data into the SmartArt text box, which arranges the values into the corresponding shapes.

4. Add and remove shapes

Excel also lets you insert new shapes to add to your charts, and you can remove shapes as necessary. To insert additional text boxes, right-click and select "Add shape." This gives you a list of options for where you want to add the shape. You can also add shapes within the SmartArt text box by clicking on the plus symbol at the top of the toolbar. To remove shapes, navigate to the Smart Art toolbar and click the minus symbol and select the shape you want to delete.

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5. Customize chart styles

Consider custom features in your org chart to clarify and highlight key information. Font styles like bold text or italics can also help emphasize crucial data teams use within org charts. The "Format" option also lets you add different elements to enhance the design of your charts, including font styles, headers and shape styles.

6. Update org charts for accuracy

Excel's features let you update the spreadsheets you create, including org charts and other elements you include. As data changes, update your org chart to include additional data and remove outdated information. This process is continuous and ensures the accuracy of organizational tracking and structure.

7. Copy and paste data points

You can also copy and paste data from worksheets you already have. This process is especially useful for list items, such as employee names, addresses and phone numbers. Navigate to the worksheet you want to pull your data from and select and highlight the range you want to organize in your chart. Right-click and select "Copy," and paste the data into the SmartArt text box for each shape you have. Arrange the data values in the corresponding chart shapes according to the hierarchy of your list.

Related: How To Make a Gantt Chart in Excel in 4 Simple Steps

3 tips for reading organizational charts

Organizational charts are effective because you can make updates to them as you gather additional data. This can make some org charts complex, but you can better evaluate org charts with several helpful approaches:

1. Follow vertical charts like a pyramid

Look at the text boxes at the top of the pyramid as the highest-ranking positions, where each row shows different management levels and widens toward the bottom to show lower levels of organization. The lines connecting each text box represent the reporting relationships between teams, management and departments.

2. Read horizontal charts from left to right

Horizontal charts show organizational relationships from left to right, where the pyramid shape expands across the spreadsheet. Similar to the vertical layout, a horizontal layout has the highest-ranking personnel in the left-most text box. Each level of management expands to the right, with lower organizational levels building off of these. The connecting lines also show the reporting relationships between each department.

3. Use the landscape mode

As org charts grow to include more shapes and data points, you can improve readability by switching to the landscape mode. Navigate to the page menu and select "File." Choose "Page setup" to bring up a menu box and change the orientation from "Portrait" to "Landscape."

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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