14 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Flowcharts - and How to Fix Them
There are several mistakes that can make a flowchart confusing and difficult to understand. Here are some of the most common mistakes and how to fix them.
#1 Not having a clear start and end point
Every flowchart should have a clear beginning and end, which can be represented by terminal symbols. This helps readers understand where the process starts and ends, and ensures that all necessary steps are included in the flowchart. To fix this mistake, include Start/End symbols at the beginning and end of your flowchart.
#2 Not using standard symbols
It's essential to use standard flowchart symbols like diamonds for decision points and rectangles for process steps to ensure that your flowchart is understood by everyone. Using non-standard symbols can confuse and make it hard for others to understand the flowchart. To fix this mistake, familiarize yourself with the most commonly used flowchart symbols and use them consistently in your flowcharts.
#3 Not including enough detail
While it's important to keep your flowchart clear and concise, it should also provide enough information for readers to understand each step of the process. Omitting necessary details can lead to confusion and misunderstandings. To fix this mistake, include all necessary details in your flowchart, but try to keep the information concise and to the point.
#4 Using too many different symbols
Using a wide variety of symbols can make your flowchart confusing and hard to understand. Stick to a limited set of standard symbols whenever possible. If you do need to use a non-standard symbol, be sure to include a legend explaining its meaning. To fix this mistake, limit yourself to a small set of standard symbols and only use non-standard symbols when inevitable.
#5 Not testing the flowchart before sharing it
Before sharing your flowchart with others, test it to ensure that it accurately reflects the process it represents. Testing the flowchart can help identify any errors or omissions and ensure that it is clear and easy to understand. To fix this mistake, walk through the flowchart yourself or have a colleague review it to ensure that it is accurate and easy to follow.
#6 Not including enough white space
A flowchart with too much going on can be overwhelming and hard to follow. Be sure to include plenty of white space to help guide readers through the process. This can be achieved by leaving some blank space around the symbols and using appropriate spacing between symbols and text. To fix this mistake, review your flowchart and add more white space as needed.
#7 Not using a consistent layout
A consistent layout, like down-to-up left-to-right, can help make your flowchart easier to read. An inconsistent layout can be confusing and make it hard for readers to follow the flow of the process. To fix this mistake, choose a consistent layout and stick to it throughout your flowchart. Use consistent symbol sizes whenever it is possible.
#8 Not including a legend
A legend can help explain the meaning of any non-standard or rarely used symbols you may have used in your flowchart. Without a legend, the meaning of these symbols may be unclear to readers. To fix this mistake, include a legend in your flowchart explaining the meaning of any non-standard symbols you have used.
#9 Not proofreading for spelling and grammar errors
It's important to proofread your flowchart for spelling and grammar errors, as they can be confusing for readers and make your flowchart appear unprofessional. To fix this mistake, carefully review your flowchart for spelling and grammar errors before sharing it with others.
#10 Not keeping the flowchart up to date as processes change
As processes change over time, it is important to update your flowchart to reflect these changes. This will ensure that it remains accurate and useful. Neglecting to update your flowchart can lead to confusion and misunderstandings, as well as an inaccurate representation of the process. To fix this mistake, be sure to review and update your flowchart regularly to reflect any changes to the process.
#11 Not including a title
A title helps to identify the purpose of the flowchart and provides context for the reader. Without a title, it may be difficult for readers to understand the purpose of the flowchart. To fix this mistake, be sure to include a clear and concise title at the top of your flowchart.
#12 Using too small or large font size
Using a font size that is too small or too large can make your flowchart difficult to read. To fix this mistake, choose a font size that is easy to read and consistent throughout your flowchart.
#13 Not aligning symbols and text
Proper alignment helps to make your flowchart look organized and professional. Misaligned symbols and labels can be distracting and make it hard for readers to follow the flow of the process. To fix this mistake, align symbols and labels consistently throughout your flowchart.
#14 Not using a clear visual hierarchy
A clear visual hierarchy, such as using different colors or shapes to distinguish between different types of steps or emphasize important steps, can help to make your flowchart easier to follow. Without a clear visual hierarchy, it may be difficult for readers to understand the relationships between different steps. To fix this mistake, use a clear visual hierarchy to help guide readers through the flowchart.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you can create clear and effective flowcharts that are easy to understand and follow.