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What is Microsoft Visio?

Updated on August 17, 2010

Microsoft Visio is computer software that can be used to create diagrams and drawings for many different purposes. Visio has been around for a while, each new version differing slightly from the last. Visio 2010 the latest version, now features the “Ribbon” - a replacement for all the toolbars and menus introduced to other Microsoft Office applications in the 2007 version.

Microsoft Visio is sold in two editions; Professional and Standard, but there is also a Student edition available to those in education (or who have children in full-time education) that is also based on the Standard edition.

Visio applications

Click thumbnail to view full-size
EPC DiagramFluid Power DiagramSite PlanWork Flow DiagramNetwork DiagramTimeline
EPC Diagram
EPC Diagram
Fluid Power Diagram
Fluid Power Diagram
Site Plan
Site Plan
Work Flow Diagram
Work Flow Diagram
Network Diagram
Network Diagram

So what can you do with it?

The main difference between the versions is the number and complexity of templates, stencils and shapes offered, and the ability to connect a drawing to a data source. So what is it used for? The most common uses are for creating flowcharts and organisation charts, but Visio can do much more than this. It can be used to create:

Process Diagrams

  • A Process Diagram is a diagram that literally describes a process, and is composed of the individual steps that make up that process. It may also include conditions and resources required by the process. Diagrams in this category could be used to illustrate such processes as:
  • An accounting procedure
  • A customer service process
  • A software development project phase

Engineering Drawings & Diagrams

  • An engineering drawing is usually used to accurately represent a mechanical or electrical part, while an engineering diagram creates schematic representations of engineering systems. Examples include:
  • Hydraulic and pneumatic controls
  • Factory automation systems
  • Electrical and electronic schematic diagrams

Architectural Drawings

  • All external design representations in architecture are drawings and are widely used in construction.  Visio is very capable of producing architect quality plans and drawings and can open and save CAD .dwg files.  Applications include:
  • Domestic residences
  • Commercial buildings
  • Extensions
  • Office layouts

Work Flow Diagrams

  • A workflow diagram is a type of flowchart that uses icons to represent people, ideas, processes and activities within a sequence of operations.  Examples of their use could include:
  • A complaint handling process
  • A recruitment process
  • An accounts payable process

Network Diagrams

  • A network is an interconnected group or system, or a structure of elements attached to each other at regular intervals.  A network diagram can represent any cluster or group of something, usually related to computing.  Typical applications in Visio include:
  • An active directory
  • A rack diagram
  • A conceptual web site map


  • A timeline is a feature of project management, and consists of a bar labeled with dates and events marked on points to represent events along a period of time.  Timelines created in Visio are very useful if you want to provide an overview of a project to people who do not understand project management terms.  Creating a timeline also allows you to create:
  • A Gantt Chart, which is a representation of the tasks and resources required to complete the project.
  • A rack diagram

Visio makes life easy for the novice user by offering a simple “Getting  Started” screen and the choice of opening recent templates from the start up screen.  You can see video tutorials of Visio in action for free at Visio Tutorial.


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    • profile image

      NetresultTraining 7 years ago

      Hello Barry

      Just go to for loads of free tutorials, video tutorials and articles on Microsoft Visio. You'll be up and running in no time.

    • profile image

      Barry Peters 7 years ago

      That's all very well but how do you use the stuff that's what i cant figure

    • NetresultTraining profile image

      NetresultTraining 7 years ago

      Hi Nikki

      Most people are in the same boat where Visio is concerned. Have a look at the flowchart templates to get you started, and if you work in a large organization also check out the Organization Chart templates - they can save a lot of time.

      If you would like to find out more about Visio visit my website at

    • profile image

      Nikki Jordan 7 years ago

      I have this at work but don't know what to use it for.