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Hierarchy 003

Organization Charts

Using Hierarchy 003

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 attention to detail helps convey the correct message and, therefore, elevates the quality of the document/presentation to a higher level.

This is the basic beginning layout. Working outside the automatic diagramming/org chart tool in PowerPoint will allow for animation and greater levels of formatting. Connect the boxes 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. Also check out HI004 and HI005. All the org chart hierarchies 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 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 and readily usable without additional sizing.

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 boxes, make adjustments to the spacing, and add tiers of boxes.

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.

Spacing the boxes: if you have to accommodate another tier of boxes, spacing becomes an issue. Because you have already connected the boxes with connectors, you can just select the box you want to move, hold your shift key down (important so the box doesn't drift up or down while dragging), and move it to the position you wish.

Adding tiers: find the configuration you want within this series (you should have already brought them in at the sizing step so that they are sized and ready for you to work with at this point) and place it below the correct box. Connect them with connectors and align.

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.

Click on a name for more information.
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