Yonatan Ben Knaan

Flowchart Symbols


Posted Dec 2023


A visual cheat sheet to help you effectively convey ideas with flowcharts

A simple flowchart that represent a viewer liking or disliking this content

You know, I've seen flowcharts here and there, but when I started working extensively with Whimsical, I found myself thinking what the hack are these diagram symbols anyways? Do they have a meaning or are they just nice looking shapes? Well, this is a visual language signs, and as a language they have a meaning, so much so it's been standardized by ISO and ANSI.

With these symbols you can create flowcharts to represents any workflow or process that other people can read – the only condition is that you and your audience are reading them correctly. With this list you can totally plot any UX flow, software logic or a spaceship to Mars.

The shape goes as follow:


Terminator


Pill


Used to clearly define the start or stop point in a process or a flow in your diagram

The Terminator symbol

Process


Rectangular


An operation or action step - Indicates any processing function. Illustrate actions taken, calculations performed, or tasks completed

The Process symbol

Decision


Diamond


A question or a decision in the process between two or more paths in a flowchart. Usually a yes/no or true/false branching duo to different outcomes

The Decision symbol

Preparation


Elongated Hexagon


A preparation process step, like setting a switch or setting-up a routine

The Preparation symbol

Input/Output


Parallelogram


Indicates data inputs and outputs to and from a process, be it a user input, system output, or data exchange with external sources

The Input/Output symbol

Manual Input


Trapezoid


A process step that isn't automated, requiring a manual intervention or human action. Used to show a user tasks, operator involvement, or steps requiring external human input

The Manual Input symbol

Display


Half Pointed, Half Rounded Rectangular


Indicates displayed data for a screen of exported to a text file

The Display symbol

Delay


Half Rounded Rectangular


A waiting period - Indicates a delay in the process

The Delay symbol

Merge


Flipped Triangle


Indicates a step that merge multiple processes into one

The Merge symbol

Extract


Triangle


Used to extract or to split a processes. Also used to indicates a measurement or finished goods

The Extract symbol

Document


Bottom Wavey Rectangular


Represents the input or output of a printed document or report

The Document symbol

Multiple Documents


Stack of Bottom Wavey Rectangular


Represents multiple inputs or outputs of a printed documents or reports

The Multiple Documents symbol

Off Page Connector


Square with One Pointed Edge


Indicates a jump from one page of the diagram to another page. Represented by a square with one pointed edge with a letter inside

The Off Page Connector symbol

On Page Connector


Circle


A jump from one point to another, and replace a long line on a flowchart page. Represented by a small circle with a letter inside

The On Page Connector symbol

Database


Cylinder with an Oval on Top


Indicates a database that allows for searching and sorting

The Database symbol

Internal Storage


Square with Two Rectangles Inside


Indicates an internal storage that allows for searching and sorting

The Internal Storage symbol

Predefined Process


Rectangle Containing Narrower Rectangle


A process defined elsewhere in the flowchart or from another source

The Predefined Process symbol

Or


Circle with a Plus Sign Inside


Logical OR operator

The Or symbol

And


Circle with a Cross Sign Inside


Logical AND operator

The And symbol

Sort


Rhombus with a Line Crossing


Step that organizes data into lists using a schema

The Sort symbol

Collate


Two Triangles on Top of Each Other


Step that organizes data into a schema

The Collate symbol