Tips About Visio Connection Points

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Connecting Visio shapesOne of Visio’s most helpful features is the ability to snap and glue objects together with Connection Points.  These are the little blue “x” symbols that you can see on many pre-made Visio shapes that come with the product or from other sources such as  Here we’ll discuss how to insert additional connection points in Visio shapes that you have downloaded or created yourself.  While the basic operation is quite simple, we’ll explain what to watch out for so that you get the results you expect. In addition, there are several types of connection points but we’ll explain those in another article. 

Viewing Connection Points

Visio Connection Points menuFirst, let’s verify that you can see connection points.  Visio defaults to connection point viewing being “on” for versions prior to Visio 2010 (we’ll discuss 2010 a bit later).  However, sometimes this feature may be turned off.  For example, if you open a drawing file that has been filed with connection point viewing off, then your connection point viewing will be turned off as well.  The connection points will still function but you won’t be able to see where they are which can make it difficult to know where to snap and glue a line to an object.  Check the View menu to see if Connection Points are highlighted.

Adding Connection Points

Visio Connector Tool ChoicesOn the Visio toolbar, the Connector Tool enables you to add and connectors between shapes and “glue” them into place.  Click on the pull-down arrow next to this icon and you can choose the Connection Point Tool.  When this tool is selected, you can add a new connection point at any location on any shape.  To do this, select the shape and notice how its highlighting has changed to indicate that it’s ready to receive a connection point.  Your cursor has also changed.  Now, hold the Ctrl key, position your cursor where you want to add the connection point, and left click your mouse.

Are your Connection Points where you think they are? 

It’s a common user mistake to add connection points to the wrong shape without realizing it.  Remember that adding a connection point as described above places it into the selected shape, even if the point is not on or within the boundaries of the shape! 

Placing Visio Connection PointsIn the adjacent illustration, Shape A is highlighted and it looks like we have just placed a connection point on Shape B.  Guess what… the connection point was actually inserted into Shape A.  In order to place it in Shape B, you must select Shape B.  Often, a user will select Shape A and then continue adding connection points where they want them, without remembering to select a different shape.  In that case, when Shape A is moved, the connection point moves along with it and would no longer be on Shape B.

Placing Visio Connection PointsYou can place connection points outside of the selected shape geometry which is often a very useful technique.  Here, we’ve placed the points outside of the shapes so that when we glue connectors or lines to them, there is white space remaining outside of the object.  As the objects are moved, the line will remain glued to the connection points outside of the shape’s geometry.

Visio 2010 Connection Points

In Visio 2010, connection point viewing also defaults to “on”.  However, you will only see the connection points when you are in the process of connecting to them.  In the example above, the connection points on the figure of the teacher will appear as you move the line towards the shape.  So don’t be concerned if the points are not visible when you first review a drawing.  Visio 2010 also gives you the option to turn off the display of connection points entirely.  In the Ribbon, select View and uncheck the Connection Points check box to always hide them.

© 2010, Visimation. All rights reserved.

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9 comments to Tips About Visio Connection Points

  • Dave Smith

    The Dynamic Grid in VISIO 2010 SUCKS!!!

  • I understand your frustration. It all depends on what you are using Dynamic Grid for. With certain kinds of drawings it’s very helpful, but with others it’s intrusive. You can always turn it off.

  • For Visio 2010 and onwards, shame the connection points do not magically appear when you are trying to connect a control point!!!!

  • Jeannine

    Why is there no way to keep connection points turned ON? This fade in/out is aggravating for attempting to line up blocks with connection points – there is no way to keep them visible unless you are actively trying to connect them.

  • I have to agree with you. This is a change Microsoft introduced in Visio 2010. There should be a way to turn on connection point display for users that want it to work that way. Personally, I like not having them on all the time but not everyone wants that. I’ve posted a comment on your behalf in the Microsoft discussion forum:

  • Henk

    Actually, in 2010 with the connection point tool I can only move the already present connection points of a shape. To add connection points I need to also press the CRTL button.

  • Yes, that is true. I don’t believe there is anything in the article to contradict what you’ve said.

  • Stephane

    Think I’ve found a bug in Visio 2010 Standard – I’ve drawn a horizontal line, as an electrical busbar. I’ve sprinkled that line liberally with connection points (all “Inward” ones). I then created a circuit breaker symbol, out of various lines which I Grouped, and put “Inward and Outward” connection points on the tips of its incoming and outgoing lines.

    All good so far… but then I try to connect my breaker to my busbar. It glues from above (incoming circuits), but it won’t glue from below the busbar (outgoing circuits)- the connection points refuse to go red.

    Am I right? Is this a bug? If so, who do I contact about it in Microsoft?

  • It looks like you are using “2D glue” which is often unreliable in the sense that it often won’t behave as you expect. 1D glue is much more predictable. After you’ve created your circuit breaker, probably as a grouped shape, you must set its behavior to “Line (1 dimensional)”. To do this you need to run Visio in Developer Mode. Don’t worry, it’s not a big deal… it just exposes additional features. Go to Options > Advanced > Run in developer mode (Under General, near the bottom). You will now see a Developer tab in the ribbon. Click that, then Behavior, then you can set it to 1D as mentioned. Now the left and right boundaries of your shape will have endpoints that will glue reliably to connection points. If you want the circuit breaker to move with the line, set your connection points at intervals equaling the width of your circuit breaker shape so you can glue both ends. There may be more nuances to discuss about your particular situation but that’s my suggestion based on my current understanding.

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