All the most common flowchart symbols you need to know, and how to use them.

Flowchart is a very intuitive method to describe processes. As such, in most cases, you don’t need to worry too much about the standards and rules of all the flowchart symbols. In fact, a simple flowchart, constructed with just rectangular blocks and flowlines, can already get most jobs done.

However, if you want to get technical and precise, there are preset rules and standards you can follow. Specifically, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) set standards for flowcharts and their symbols in the 1960s. Afterwards, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) adopted the ANSI symbols in 1970. In general, flowcharts flow from top to bottom and left to right.

Flowchart Symbol Name Description
Flowchart Symbol - Flowline Flowline Shows the process’ direction. Each flowline connects two blocks.
Flowchart Symbol - Terminal Terminal Indicates the beginning or end of a flowchart
Flowchart Symbol - Process Process Represent a step in a process. This is the most common component of a flowchart.
Flowchart Symbol - Decision Decision Shows a step that decides the next step in a process. This is commonly a yes/no or true/false question.
Flowchart Symbol - Input Output Input/Output Indicates the process of inputting or outputting external data.
Flowchart Symbol - Annotation Annotation / Comment Indicates additional information regarding a step in a process.
Predefined Process Predefined Process Shows named process which is defined elsewhere.
On-page Connector On-page Connector Pairs of on-page connecter are used to replace long lines on a flowchart page.
Off-page Connector Off-page Connector An off-page connector is used when the target is on another page.
Flowchart Symbol - Delay Delay Any delay period that is part of a process
Flowchart Symbol - Alternate Process Alternate process An alternate to the normal process step. Flow lines to an alternate process block is usually dashed.
Flowchart Symbol - Data Data Data input or output
Flowchart Symbol - Document Document A document
Multi-document Symbol Multi-document Multiple documents
Flowchart Symbol - Preparation Preparation A preparation step
Symbol Display Display A machine display
Flowchart Symbol Manual Input Manual input Manually input data or information into a system
Flowchart Symbol - Manual Operation Manual operation A process step that isn’t automated