Many people approach Visio as they would Word or Excel and expect a blank page to appear. With Visio, though, you're better off starting with a template. The page may still be blank at first, but at least by basing it on a template, the appropriate set of shapes will appear. It's easy to select the template you want, because when you start Visio, the Choose Drawing Type pane shows you previews of the types of diagrams typically created with a particular template, as Figure 1-3 shows.
Figure 1-3. When you start Visio, you can preview sample diagrams for each template within a category.
Tip - Choose a Drawing Type
When you're working in Visio, you can display the Choose Drawing Type pane without closing and reopening the program by clicking File, New, Choose Drawing Type. A shortcut to the categories of templates is to click File, New, and then click a category to display a submenu of templates.
You can start Visio with a new, blank drawing, which opens only a drawing page and no stencils. However, starting with a template provides important advantages that help you work more efficiently:
For all these reasons, you're almost always better off using a template. It sets up your working environment for you, so all you have to do is add shapes and text.
To start a diagram with a template:
Pictures of specific diagram types appear in the area under Template. Each picture represents a sample diagram created using that template.
Visio opens a new drawing page. Stencils containing shapes appropriate for that diagram type appear on the left, as Figure 1-4 shows.
Figure 1-4. If you start a new diagram based on the Basic Flowchart (US Units) template, Visio opens a letter-sized drawing page with three stencils.
The Choose Drawing Type pane is a great way to learn about Visio's offerings, but after you've created a few diagrams, you may prefer to work in the New Drawing task pane, shown in Figure 1-5. Like the list of recently opened files that appears on the File menu, the task pane shows you diagrams you've opened, templates that you've used recently, and options for starting a new diagram based on a template.
Figure 1-5. The New Drawing task pane provides shortcuts for creating new diagrams and opening existing ones.