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Tutorial for Circular Flows 051 and 052 – Parallel Processes

Using Parallel Process Circular flows.

Circular flows depict virtuous and vicious cycles.  These frameworks display two circular flows with an intersection.  There are two variations that can be used to illustrate parallel or tandem process or flows, dual work flows, process or flow intersections and/or integration. The two variations are:

  • v1 – two separate flows to be used as semitransparencies that overlap. The circular flow on the left flow outward to the left and the circular flow on the right flows outward to the right. The overlap, which creates an intersection, is in the middle. These frameworks are not just two circular flows that have been mirrored and used together. Notice that the intersection in the middle has a differently shaped departure point than the other flow segments. This vividly communicates that a union if the two individual circular flows has taken place.
  • v2 –two separate flows to be used as solid colors. The intersection point is a field separate from the two flows and can be colored independent from the two flows. The series example shows how to use this version. Notice that the intersection field is different for the 6-segment flow (also illustrated in the series example).

Notice also that the series example uses two flows with different numbers of segments. You can combine two frameworks to tell a very specific story.

CF051 has no wings and Cf052 has wings (arrowheads).  Other than that, there is no difference between the two series. The wings/no wings (wings are the arrow points that stick out beyond the shaft of the arrow) preference is dictated by what is being used throughout the rest of the document/presentation. You want to be sure you are building a consistent looking message.

The center can be populated with the name of the cycle or a photograph. The segments can be numbered so a starting and stopping point can be established. Associated text can be placed outside the cycle framework next to each segment. Instead of using horizontal text for the segment descriptors, you can also use arc formats of WordArt.

The oval versions are a good choice if you need to fill up the space on the slide or if you need extra space inside the circular flow.

Once you have identified the best-suited PowerFramework, download it to a specific location on your computer so you'll be able to find it (the desktop is always a good choice).

Customizing your PowerFrameworks Circular Flow

Adjust size

To resize this PowerFramework, you need to group it and scale it while resizing (hold the shift key down while you resize). This is important to do or it will become distorted.  Don't stretch these frameworks to make them ovals. the top of the circular flows will be thin and the sides will be wide, which is a very unattractive result. 

Color variations

Select color from your document's color palette or a complimentary color so that the PowerFramework will reflect the color scheme of the rest of your document. Select "No line" if you want to eliminate the outline of the object, or change the line point size if you want thinner lines.

3D variations

3D effects are not recommended for circular flows unless the depth is very, very small. Otherwise, the circles turn into pipes. If you do use 3D, be sure the order of the pieces is correct so that the 3D effect of the pieces do not block out the other pieces, which will disrupt the 3D effect. Also, when the pieces of a 3D framework are close together, the individual pieces become indistinct. You can you use variations of the same color to create more distinction between the segments. Be aware that using 3D darkens the colors of the object.


Shadows are tricky with this type of framework. You should be very careful, because most of the shadow effects in the menu disrupt the look of the framework, which will detract from the message you are trying to send. Also, make any layering adjustments so that the shadow from one section does not overlap the primary part of another section.  A nice drop shadow in PowerPoint 2007 or 2010 is fine, but stay away from the shadows in PowerPoint 2003.

Gradients, patterns, and pictures

Gradients, patterns, and pictures can be added as fills from the "Fill Effects" menu. Gradients, when carefully used, can also add motion to the circular flow part of this type of framework. Remember not to make the gradient too radical from light to dark because the text that will be placed in the segment will need to contrast with the segment in order to be readable.  If there are only a few segments, adding gradients is fairly easy.  If there a lot of segments, it can be time consuming getting the gradients to "flow" around the circle to correctly illustrate a flow direction.


Animations of circular flows can be wipes or fade in to show progression, basically anything that does not fly in from an unconnected origin.

Series that relate to this tutorial:

CF051 – Circular Flow 051 – Parallel Processes

Possible use example

CF052 – Circular Flow 052 – Parallel Processes

Possible use example

Links to instructions for getting the framework into your presentation

  1. Determine the best file type for your needs
  2. Download the file
  3. Import the framework into your presentation
    1. Importing a PPT file
    2. Importing a EMF or PNG
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