Creating Visio Stencils

We all know that Visio Shapes can be dragged onto the page to build diagrams quickly, but did you know that the Shapes included on the Stencils in both Standard and Professional versions of Visioare initially referred to as shape masters? These shape masters can be renamed with more meaningful titles if you wish, so that they have more relevance to your drawing, and if you want to use different Shape Masters, you simply open the stencils that contain them from the Shapes button on the Standard toolbar or from Shapes on the File menu.

As you work with Visio you may find that the Shape Masters on the included stencils don’t quite meet your needs, or you might have so many stencils in use that the Shapes window has no more room to display them all.  If this is the case, you can create your own Custom Stencils and put all your favourite shapes in one convenient place, or create a Custom Stencil that includes all the shapes you need to create a specific drawing type.  Any Custom Stencils that you create are held in the MyShapes folder, and opening them is as easy as opening any of the built-in stencils.

There is no limit to the number of stencils you can create, whether you modify an existing stencil or create a new one from scratch.  Many people use a Custom Stencil to store Custom Shapes that they have made or bought so that all the Shapes they need to create a drawing are readily to hand.  Of course, these Custom Stencils can also be saved in a Custom Template giving Visio users another great time-saving advantage over users of other diagramming software (see our articles onCreating Custom Templates for more details).

A lot of people don’t realize that new Custom Stencils can be saved as “read-only” by using the drop down from the “Save” button to prevent other people from editing them, but it is actually true!

The Visio Extras stencil is brim full of useful stencils, such as EmbellishmentsAnnotations,DimensioningIcon Sets and Patterns. To open one of these stencils, choose “File”, “Shapes”, “Visio Extras” (or use the Shapes button from the Standard Toolbar) and then choose the stencil you want.

Watch out for more Visio 2007 Intermediate articles at

© 2009 Netresult