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Tutorial for Hierarchy 004 – Organization Charts

Using Hierarchy 004

The variations of organization/organizational charts (org charts) are as plentiful as there are organizations. The primary goal is go lay out the reporting relationships of the functions/departments/responsible personnel. What so many org charts fail to do is deliver the subliminal messages that are so important. These messages are achieved in consistency and alignment. In an org chart, it is generally preferred that every box/field on a certain level be the same size, implying equal importance. Resist the urge to make one larger to accommodate a longer title, etc. If you must enlarge one, enlarge them all. Also, it is important to maintain consistence from page to page. The boxes should be uniform (as much as possible) between departments/functions, etc. This type of attention to detail help convey the correct message and also elevates the messages within the document/presentation to a higher level.

Although this series of frameworks appears to have quite a few levels, there are really only three. The smaller stacked boxes are all linked to the box above, implying that they are not hierarchically linked to each other, but are on the same level. There are eight stacked smaller boxes; use what you need and delete the rest from the bottom up.

Working outside the automatic diagramming/org chart tool in PowerPoint will allow for animation and greater levels of formatting. Connect the boxes on top in PowerPoint by using the "Connectors" in the AutoShapes menu. That way the connection is established even if you need to readjust the spacing, etc. The boxes below are already connected. This has been done because the connections are made at a place where the PowerPoint connectors will not function. Go to the tutorial to learn about how to use these frameworks, as well as HI003 and HI005. They can be used together, as so many of the PowerFrameworks can.

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 Org Charts

Adjust size

Remember to group the frameworks before sizing so that the integrity of the framework is maintained. Hold the shift key down if you want to scale it while you are sizing. Ungroup again once it is the size you like so other customizations can be made.

Be sure to bring in all of the configurations (e.g., 3 boxes and 2 boxes) you will be using on this page and size them at one time to be sure they are consistent.

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.

Connections and alignments

After you have brought the correct PowerFramework into your document, sized it, and colored it, you will need to connect the top boxes, make adjustments to the spacing if you need more space for text, and delete unneeded boxes in the vertical series.

Connecting the boxes: use connectors in PowerPoint. This feature is really important to use, as it will save time and frustration. The connectors are available in the AutoShapes menu. The connectors used in the example below are the first option on the middle row within the connector menu.

Please note that the connector feature has not been used with the vertical column of boxes. The reason that lines are used in stead of connectors is that the lines are attached to the box in a place where connectors will not attach (connectors only attach at handles).

Spacing the boxes: if you have to accommodate greater space for text in the vertical boxes, spacing becomes an issue. Group your individual "columns" of boxes and associated vertical boxes. Add the spacing you need and then realign by distributing the columns. Ungroup the columns and select only the vertical boxes in all the columns. Then drag the right-hand middle handle to the right, which will elongate the boxes to the desired width.

Eliminating unneeded boxes: some of you columns of vertical boxes, for example, may require two boxes and some may require 5 boxes. Just delete the unneeded boxes and their associated connectors.

3D variations

Unless this is a very simple org chart, it's best to stay away from 3D. Elements of the 3D tend to obscure the connecting lines.


Unless your org chart is very simple, avoid using shadows. Shadows tend to close the gaps between the boxes and obscure the relationships.

Gradients, patterns, and pictures

Since you are working with very small boxes and text in many cases, avoid any format that is confusing or obscures the text. Gradients and patterns behind text (especially small text) tends to diminish the readability of the message.


Animate individual boxes and lines or groups as appropriate. Use simple reveals or wipes.

Series that relate to this tutorial:

HI004 – Hierarchy 004 – Organization Charts

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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