How to create an org chart in PowerPoint

Don’t create an org chart in PowerPoint.

powerpoint org chart limitations

Ok, that’s a little harsh. PowerPoint can be helpful as long as you have realistic expectations. I’ve personally made hundreds of org charts in PowerPoint so I know the limitations first hand. Before you start with PowerPoint to manage your org charts, have an honest conversation about the limitations:

  1. PowerPoint org charts take hours/days to create
  2. Even small change requests often require updating most boxes on many slides
  3. PowerPoint org charts are rarely accurate for more than a week
  4. Only one person can work on a PowerPoint org chart at a time, so it’s difficult to collaborate

If those limitations do not concern you, then PowerPoint can be a nice org chart tool for the following reasons:

  1. Design org chart colors and styles exactly how you want it
  2. Easily print or send via email
  3. If your boss asks for a PowerPoint org chart, then it’s great to deliver a PowerPoint org chart

Now that the warnings are out of the way, here’s how you can make a PowerPoint org chart

Find your official PowerPoint template

  • Many organizations have an official PowerPoint template that has the correct colors, logos, fonts, and styles. If you ask your marketing department, and they have no idea, then you can usually find an official presentation that is used with customers, board members, investors, or other people that your organization wants to impress. Once you find it, just delete all of the slides and then add a new blank slide. Thanks to the power of the “Slide Master” all of the design elements you want for your org chart will be in the new blank slide.

Decide how to split your org chart across slides

  • As tempting as it is to fit your entire org on to one slide, it is very difficult to do in a way that is legible. You’re always giving up clarity and helpful information to maintain the dream of a one-slide org chart.
  • Instead, decide right from the beginning that you will split your org chart across multiple slides. The safest bet is to use 2 levels per slide (for instance, the CEO and the people who report directly to her on one slide). two level powerpoint org chart slide
  • It’s possible you can get 3 levels on one slide, but once you start building it that way, it is a real pain to go back and switch it to just 2 levels per slide.three level powerpoint org chart slide

Make a good title for each slide

  • PowerPoint slides usually have a helpful title at the top to give the reader a quick overview of what they’re looking at. If you have a “task focused structure”, then it’s great to have the unit name at the top (like Sales, or Finance, or Midwest Customer Support).  If you have a culture where people are more important than tasks, then go ahead and make the slide title the name of the person at the top (John Rex, Samantha King, or Mary Charlemagne) powerpoint org chart slide title

Choose what info you want in each org chart box

  • More boxes per slide = Less info per box org chart example detailed text
  • What you put into each org chart box has a huge impact on how many boxes you can fit on each slide. If you want Name, Title, Unit, Email, Responsibilities, Shoe Size, AND a Profile Photo, then you have to have a very small org structure. That is why most org charts you see are limited to just Name and chart box example limited text
  • When choosing what to add, be aware of your organization’s culture and the limitations of PowerPoint

Use SmartArt in PowerPoint to automatically connect boxes with lines

Ok, decisions are made. Now you are ready to actually build the org chart. Some might recommend that you draw each box and each connector line in your org chart, but that can be frustrating. I recommend using SmartArt so you can build your org chart a little quicker. SmartArt org chart


You can change solid-lines to dotted-lines by selecting the line, right-clicking, selecting Format Shape, selecting Line, and then changing the option for Dash Type.

dotted line org chart

Alternatives to PowerPoint org charts

PowerPoint is just one example of a tool that lets you draw boxes to create an org chart. Other drawing tools include LucidChart, Gliffy, Canva, and Prezi. If the limitations of drawing and updating each org chart box manually are too great for you, then luckily you have some alternative options. Here are the key differences between a drawing tool like PowerPoint and an org chart software:

  • Create an org chart from Excel data
  • Batch edit all org chart box layouts at once
  • Drag and drop to make changes in hierarchy
  • Collaborate online
  • Export to PowerPoint slides automatically
  • Publish dynamic & searchable org charts online

OrgWeaver meets all of those requirements for an org chart software and has a free version to get started. There are other tools as well that don’t meet all of those requirements, but are worth comparing and contrasting (such as OrgPlus, Organimi, and Pingboard).

OrgWeaver org chart software



How to create an org chart from Excel

Excel to PowerPoint org charts with OrgWeaverDo you have data in Excel that you want to visualize as an org chart? Before you waste days trying to figure out exactly what you need to do, let us help you out. These are the key things you need to know to prepare your Excel data to be imported into most online org chart creators.

Be Unique

  • Some of your data has to be unique so that org chart software can make sense of it. But which data? Stick to the basics. Every single “people ID” and “position ID” needs to be unique. If you repeat any of those IDs, your org chart won’t work.
  • Don’t have IDs? You can just make them up! If you don’t have a “person ID” for every single employee, just create new IDs. In the “people ID” column, just start with the number 1 and continue down the rows of people until everyone has a “people ID”.

Be Thorough

  • Every row of data should include data about one single person that holds one single job. If there are any blanks in your data, try to fill it in as best as you can. If you have too many blanks, consider asking for more data from your colleague that keeps track of HR data.

Know The Boss

  • Org charts are made by connecting every single position to a manager. For instance, a VP reports to an Executive VP. And an Executive VP reports to the CEO. Make sure you have one column in your data that shows the “position ID” that each person reports to.
  • If you don’t have the “reports to position ID” column in your Excel sheet, it is necessary to add it. Start at the top. Find the “position ID” of the CEO (let’s say that “position ID” is 1). Then find every person that reports to the CEO and put the number 1 in their “reports to position ID” column. Do that for each leader until all of the rows are filled.
  • The top boss doesn’t report to anyone, though. So make sure that the “reports to position ID” of the person at the top of your org chart is left blank!

Start Simply

  • Download this example Excel sheet that shows all of the columns that are necessary to create an org chart from Excel.
  • The Excel sheet was made to work with OrgWeaver, but it should also help get your data prepared for an Excel import to Organimi, OrgPlus, OrgChart4U, OrgVue, and other online org chart creators.