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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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