Mixing Shapes from Different Templates in Visio

Posted on August 3, 2012 by Fernando Zamora

Often times you want to draw diagrams with multiple pages and with different types of diagrams. For example you may want a flowchart on one page and a UML diagram on a different page. Possibly, you may even want symbols from those two different types of diagrams within one drawing. One of the flaws in Visio is that it locks you down to the type of diagram that prior to you starting your diagram. This results in you having access to only symbols that relate to the type of diagram. For example if you selected to draw a UML diagram but then want to also add a flow chart, tough, the symbols for the flowchart are not available on your shapes toolbar. There are several ways of getting other shapes you want, some easier than others. I’ve not yet found the correct way to this but I have found a nifty trick around it.

One way of doing this is to go to the shapes bar and search for it by name. I have found that solution too tedious and too time consuming. For one you have to know the symbol’s name. On top of that you have to sort through hundreds of very similar shapes to get exactly the one you want.

A solution that I found by experiment and that I am quite happy with, is to open up multiple instances of Visio, each one with the type of diagram that I want. One of those instances is my drawing and the other instance is only for my shapes template. For example, currently on my main drawing I am creating a UML diagram but I want to add a new page for a flowchart. So what I did was open up a new instance of Visio with the diagram set to flowchart. I then drag the symbols from the flowchart diagram right into my main drawing. This works since it’s all with the copy/paste language of the same application.

Cheers to a good trick.

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