Flowchart symbols & explanations

Flowcharts make processes and workflows visible. Below are 17 of the most commonly used symbols for illustrating flows, creating workflow diagrams, and process mapping. 

 

Other flowchart symbols have been standardized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). 

Overview

basic flowchart symbols

Basic flowchart symbols

Terminal symbol

Indicates the beginning (trigger) or end (result) of a flow. 

 

Flow line

Shows the direction and order of the flow. 

 

Process symbol

Designates specific action or work within the flow. 

 

Decision Diamond

Indicates a choice that must be made or a question that needs to be answered. The result determines the next step in the flow. 

Data & document symbols

Document symbol

Creation or use of a document is required. Documents include files, emails, reports, orders, or forms. 

 

Multiple documents

Same as above, although the multiple documents flowchart symbol signals that more than one document is required. 

 

Data

The input or output of information. For example, data that must be entered in a form, or a report is displayed. 

 

Database

Indicates a structured store of searchable data. Sometimes refers to a data file. 

 

Stored Data

A point in the flow during which data is copied, stored, or backed up. 

 

Internal Storage

The flowchart symbol for data that is stored on a local or on-premises server. 

 

Display

A point in the flow where data is displayed visually to a user. For example, a report is generated or information provided on a monitor. 

 

Input/Output

Identical to flowchart symbol for data. Indicates information is required at this point in the flow. 

Relationship flowchart symbols

Connection symbol

Indicates the the flowchart continues at another point OR on another document. Connections symbols are numbered so that they can be matched, especially important for complex flows. 

 

Merge

Indicates the intersection between multiple paths in the flow, where two or more work streams or data flows meet. 

Other useful symbols

Predefined Process

Indicates a process or workflow that requires a high level of detail. Additional information for predefined processes is provided elsewhere, or the process is commonly understood. 

 

Manual Operation

Work or activity that cannot be automated. Input is required for each instance of the workflow. 

 

Preparation

A step in the flow that supports or enables the following step. 

Additional Workflow Resources 

See why companies choose Pipefy’s no-code workflow management software to organize and optimize their processes

Using standard symbols brings consistency and visibility to workflow diagrams and process maps."