Flow Charts

Flow charts are used to graphically show the relationships of different parts or steps of a process. Two examples are the chain of command for an organization, the steps and alternatives in a manufacturing process. Different graphical symbols are used to represent different actions and lines and arrows can be used to show direction of flow. The complexity of the flow chart mirrors the complexity of the process being graphed. Flow charts can be categorized by type. Common types are sequential, loop, branch/decision making, and combination. Flow chart symbols represent different points along the process. An occupation or business may develop specific symbols for their specific needs, but several common symbols have been adopted by flow chart users. Figure 1.12 illustrates six of these.

FIGURE 1.12. Common flow chart symbols.
FIGURE 1.13. Example of flow chart.

In addition to different symbols representing different actions, different types of lines and arrows can be used to represent the relationship between the different steps or symbols in the process. Figure 1.13 is an example showing the alternatives and processes that might need to be completed to get from home to school.

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