How to Create Flow Charts in Excel Series

How to Add Text to an Excel Flow Chart Connector
(aka, Flow Line or Arrow)

By Nicholas Hebb

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Notes: Many of the images in this article are from Excel 2003, but the content remains the same for Excel 2007 - 2010, except where noted. The terms “Connector” and “Flow Line” mean the same thing are used interchangeably in this article.

To make a professional looking flow chart, it's sometimes nice to add in-line text to Connectors, as opposed to typical flow line annotations that sit in a bordered text box above the line. This article shows you how to annotate flow lines with a little more polish.


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Add the Text Box to the Flow Chart

As the picture below shows, the first step is to add the a text box to the flow chart right above the flow line (aka, connector).

  • Excel 2007 - 2013: Click the Insert tab from the ribbon, and then click the Shapes dropdown. Click the top left item in the gallery text box icon to insert the text box.
  • Excel 2000 - 2003: On the menu click View > Toolbars > Drawing to make the Drawing toolbar visible, and then click the Text Box button.

After clicking the Text Box button, use your left mouse button to click the worksheet and drag the mouse to size the new text box. Clicking the center of the text box will then allow you to enter the text.

Text box above flow chart connector

Align Text Box Over Flow Chart Connector

The next step is to align the text box over the flow chart connector. This can be done by selecting the text box and using the keyboard arrow keys to move the shape. If Snap to Grid is enabled, fine-tuned movements can be made by holding the Ctrl key down while pressing the arrow keys. The picture below shows the above text box moved on top of the flow chart connector.

Text box on top of flow chart connector

If you move the text box and the connector line is visible on top of the text box, then you need to bring the text box to front. To do this, right-click on the text box border and select Order > Bring to Front from the context menu as shown in the picture below.

Text box behind flow chart connector

Formatting the Text Box

Excel 2007 - 2010

To remove the border in Excel 2007 and 2010, click the text box, then click the Format tab on the Excel ribbon. Next, click the Shape Outline dropdown and select No Border from the menu.

Excel 2000 - 2003

Excel's default text box formatting requires a few changes to make an annotated connector (flow line) look more polished. To change the formatting, double-click on the border of the text box to open the text Box Formatting dialog. On the Alignment tab, change both the horizontal and vertical text alignment to Centered. Also, you can use the Font tab to make the font match the rest of the flow chart, if needed. Lastly, removing the border makes the annotation look more professional. This is done on the Colors and Lines tab by changing the Line > Color to No Line as shown in the picture below.

Excel text box formatting dialog

After applying all these changes, the final appearance of the annotated flow chart connector example can be seen below:

Final annotated Excel text box on flow chart connector