Hierarchy Chart: The 3 Hidden Secrets in Smart-Art

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Take your hierarchy or organization chart in Smart-Art to the next level. Discover creative ways to enhance the usefulness and effectiveness of the diagrams.

Tired of showing the same old Hierarchy chart in your slides?

The moment you think about an organization chart or department structure chart,the image that comes to your mind is:

Same old Hierarchy chart

Though the diagram looks good, it is so overused, that it bores your audience.

With a bit of imagination and some creative use of options in Smart-Art, we can get more out of the hierarchy diagrams in SmartArt. Here are 3 hidden secrets that help you get more with the tool…

Secret 1: Create a bottom-up view:

Usually, hierarchy charts are presented top-down. Even the default structure of a hierarchy diagram in Smart Art looks as follows:

Hierarchy diagram in Smart Art

But, there are times when you want to present the structure bottom-up.

For example, you may want to start by putting ‘client needs’ at the bottom; various ‘service touch points’ at the next level; and different ‘Service personnel’ who address the needs at those touch points at a level above. Can you use SmartArt in such cases?

Of course, provided you know that the SmartArt tool allows you to move the elements within a diagram to the position you want. For example, you can click and drag boxes in the default layout shown above, to create a bottom-up hierarchy chart as follows:

Bottom-up hierarchy chart

So, by just playing around with the positions of the boxes, you can create a useful variation of hierarchy diagram in no time.

Related: Stunning SmartArt Features you never knew

Secret 2: Show difference in status:

Employees in the same role need not have the same status as others. Some may be more experienced than others. Some may handle more responsibilities. Placing them all at the same level, without the necessary differentiation paints a wrong picture.

If you use the default structure of hierarchy in SmartArt you may not be able to indicate these differences. What is the option in such cases?

Here is the solution:

SmartArt allows you to increase or decrease the size of individual elements in a diagram. After you select your SmartArt diagram press the ‘Format’ tab. You will find an option at the top left corner of the ribbon that allows you to vary the size of the individual elements in a diagram as follows:

 SmartArt Diagram Modifications

So, by leveraging the options in SmartArt fully, you can convey your message far more effectively.

Related: 3 Creative SmartArt Graphic Ideas

Secret 3: Change the orientation of the layout:

SmartArt provides some interesting layout options for hierarchy as follows:

Interesting layout options for hierarchy

If you know that you can change the orientation of the layout using ‘Right to Left’ button under ‘Design’ Tab, you can create this useful variation.

SmartArt Hierarchy Variation

You can use the above diagram to represent

  • Pros and Cons of an issue
  • Two sections of an agenda
  • Myths and Realities etc.


I heard someone say, “Experts don’t use different tools; they use the same tools differently”. The saying applies quite a lot to Smart Art. What you get out of the tool depends on how you use it.

We understand that not all of us have the time to think of creative ways to use SmartArt. That doesn’t need to limit our choices for diagram selection. There is a smarter and easier way to choose remarkable diagrams for your business presentations.

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Pyramid Hierarchy Chart from CEO Pack
Cone Diagram from CEO Pack

Organization Chart Diagram from CEO Pack 1

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Lateral Org Chart

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Know more about PowerPoint CEO Packs 1 and 2

Related: Create stunning 3D Organization chart in PowerPoint

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