Flowcharts -- information mapping and best practices?

Subject: Flowcharts -- information mapping and best practices?
From: "Boudreaux, Madelyn (GE Healthcare, consultant)" <MadelynBoudreaux -at- ge -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 5 Jun 2009 19:25:41 -0400

Hi, all:

I've recently been very busy editing tables to make them more usable and
understandable, and over the years, I've learned a lot of tricks to
making them look good, flow well, and present information in a handy

So, imagine my horror at being given a flowchart and asked to do the
same. As it turns out, what I've learned about tables does not translate
to flowcharts, with which I have almost no experience.

I think I did okay, but it's made me want to find out more about how to
make them better. Does anyone have any best practices, sites that
explain info mapping in flowcharts, etc., that they can share?

Also, if anyone feels like critiquing my chart (probably off-list!),
here are the before and after charts, with the company data blurred out:
Before: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2464/3598555271_378d643010_o.jpg
After: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3306/3598555291_e0baa5ce78_o.jpg

The information in the 2 charts is identical, and the "after" chart met
all the requirements and made the requester happy, but I'm interested if
anyone can suggest ways to reorganize, use color, group, or otherwise
improve a chart like this.

One thing I *did* learn was that using rounded corners on my connector
lines really made the flow easier to follow. I can't figure out quite
why, but it seems like when there are several lines crossing or
overlapping, the curves let the eyes determine naturally which direction
to follow. Does anyone have any thoughts on that?

I also learned that, once I had the chart laid out properly, I could
move things around and find layouts that created fewer crossed lines.
Overlapping lines that all had the same path or similar destination
seemed to help simplify. These are the kinds of ideas I'm interested in,
although bigger (or smaller) concepts are welcome too.

Madelyn Boudreaux


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