Using Stencils in Microsoft Visio

Microsoft Visio enables you to create a variety of different drawings from organizational charts and flowcharts, web site maps and network drawings to office plans and timelines. When you begin a new diagram, you can start with one of the Visio solution templates, which contain all the shapes, styles and page scaling that you need for that particular job. Starting from the most suitable template means the most relevant stencils will be pre-loaded. Each collection of stencils in Microsoft Visio have special features relating to the type of drawing the template is based on.  For further tips, and a short video on getting started with Visio, click here.
Visio Templates

Using Stencils

Stencils are palettes of shapes that you use for your drawings; there are many different stencils for different tasks and even more can be downloaded from a variety of sources on the Internet.

When you start a new drawing in Visio based on one of the solutions, one or more stencils will appear to the left of your drawing page. Stencils are in the Shapes window.

Visio Stencils

To close a stencil

  • Right click on the stencil name and select CLOSE
  • Or, Left click on the Green Visio icon to the left of the stencil name and select CLOSE.

To open a different stencil

You may have one, many or no stencils open at any time.

  • Select the solution category that contains your stencil and then select the stencil name.

To move a stencil

  • Drag a stencil by the stencil name to another part of the Shapes window or
  • Right click on the stencil name and select Order then choose Move up or Move Down.

To find out more about shapes on the stencil

  • Pause your mouse over any shape on the stencils to show a Tip.

To change how you view shapes on the stencil

  • Right click on the stencil name and select View:
  • Icons and Name, Names under Icons, Icons only, Names only and Icons and Details

Using Tools

VISIO has the Ribbon, which organizes commands in Tools groups in Tabs and keeps the commands visible rather than hidden under toolbars. The tools in Visio contain many buttons that are familiar to users of other Microsoft programs. Pause the mouse over any button to find out what it does.

To access different Tools

  • Click the Tab for a required task, choose the Tools group and select the required Tool.

Visio Page Setup

Frequently, charts and diagrams are rather large and need to span across several printed pages.  Visio enables you to change page sizes as you work by manually stretching the page to fit the drawing.

You can control the initial page size, either with the printer settings or to any standard or custom size, you select.

Once you have set your initial page size and orientation, create your diagram, stretching the page where necessary and then when it is complete and you wish to print, you may adjust the diagram or the printer settings for the best printing results.

To set the page size to match the printer

This is the simplest method that ensures you are working on the same page size and orientation as your printer.

  • From the FILE Tab select Print, Print Preview and Page Setup from the Print group
  • From the Page Setup, ensure that the correct paper size and desired page orientation is set.
  • From the Page Size tab in the Page Setup dialogue box, select Let Visio expand the page as needed and press the OK button

To set to a standard or custom page size

  • From the FILE Tab select Print, Print Preview and Page Setup
  • From the Page Size tab in the dialogue box, select either Pre-defined size or Custom size and choose the required settings and orientation.

Note: It is possible to set the page size to A4 Landscape and the printer to A4 Portrait, which gives rather odd printed results – this however, can be corrected at any time without affecting your drawing.

To stretch a page to fit a drawing

  • Manually: Ensure that the Pointer Tool is selected (it should be by default)
  • Hold down the CTRL key on the keyboard and move your cursor to the edge of the page – a thin double Pointer Tool will appear
  • Hold down the Left mouse button and drag until the page is the required size
  • Release the mouse and CTRL
  • Or, Automatically: From the Page Size tab in the Page Setup dialogue box, select Let Visio expand the page as needed and press the OK

To start a new drawing based on a Solution template

Either select the required solution template in the process of opening Visio or to start a new drawing when you are already working in Visio:

  • From the FILE tab select NEW then select from the Template Categories and finally Choose a Template
  • Or, Click the on the NEW button in the Quick Access Toolbar, which is active from other tabs apart from the File tab. However, this will inherit the template that was open.

To start a new drawing without a Solution template

  • On starting Visio, scroll to the bottom of the Home screen to Other Ways to Get Started
  • Choose Blank drawing, select units (metric or US) and click Create on the right side
  • Or, From the FILE tab select NEW then Blank drawing as above

Note: Once you have a blank page, you may then add stencils to the page as required.

Learn all about Microsoft Visio’s power capabilities on our 1 day Visio training course, held regularly at our training venues in Glasgow and Edinburgh city centres.  Click here to view a full course outline.