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This chapter is from the book

Automatically Laying Out Shapes

After you've connected up your shapes, you can let Visio lay out your shapes automatically. This option is available if you want to see whether Visio can untangle drawings and make them clearer. It saves you the trouble of arranging your shapes yourself, and provides several different layout types:

  • Radial
  • Flowchart
  • Circular
  • Compact Tree
  • Hierarchy

After you've placed the shapes you want on the drawing, and connected them, you can use this option to have Visio lay out the shapes. After Visio does its thing, you can fine-tune the arrangement by dragging shapes around yourself. And bear in mind that if you don't like what you see, you can always use Edit > Undo.

Here's how to use the automatic layout option:

  1. Drag the shapes you want to the drawing.
  2. Add the connectors you want to use.
  3. Choose the shapes to arrange. Hold down the Shift key and click the shapes to arrange. If you want to arrange all shapes, select either all or none of the shapes—if no shapes are selected, Visio arranges all the shapes in the drawing.
  4. Select Shape > Configure Layout. This opens the Configure Layout dialog, shown in Figure 3.16.
    Figure 3.16

    Figure 3.16 The Configure Layout dialog.

  5. Select a layout style, such as Radial or Circular. The sample layout in the dialog box changes to match.
  6. Select a direction, such as Top to Bottom or Left to Right. The sample layout in the dialog box changes to match. You usually use Top to Bottom for organization charts, for example.
  7. Select an alignment: left, center, or right. The sample layout in the dialog box changes to match. You usually use Center for organization charts, for example.
  8. Select the style of the connector you want to use in the Connectors area. The drop-down box has options for organization chart, flowcharts, trees, and so on. The sample layout in the dialog box changes to match.
  9. Select the appearance of the connector you want to use in the Connectors area. You can choose between straight and curved. The sample layout in the dialog box changes to match.
  10. Click OK. Visio arranges your shapes and connectors automatically.

Give this a try—you may be happy with the result, you may not. Just keep in mind that you can undo it if you don't like it.

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