Diagramming with Lucidchart

Lucidchart is an online digital media tool that allows users to create and collaborate on charts, flowcharts, mind maps, and more. It’s a browser-based application that is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems, and a versatile alternative to software like Microsoft Visio.

Using Lucidchart

Template options available for free users.

Templates are categorized according to their likely uses. The Education Templates, for example, offer Venn Diagrams, Mind Maps, and Cluster or Word Web options. All items that teachers might find useful for their planning or classroom needs.

Other options include a Cause and Effect diagrams, Org Charts, and even sample Wireframe templates.

Some of the shape libraries available.

When creating a chart within Lucidchart, there is a handy and easy-to-use toolbox that displays the numerous different shapes or elements that can be integrated into the document. And while some shape menus are limited to Pro or Premiere accounts, the majority are available to those using the free version, including some very specialized shape libraries for electrical diagrams, floor plans, and more. (There’s even a Floorplan template; you can be sure I played around with redesigning my work-space when playing around in Lucidchart.)

The interface itself is very simple to use. You can just drag shapes from the toolbox onto the document, and then edit them in-situ. A standard element menu allows the customization of shapes (fill color, line color, the format of the shape itself, etc.) and textual elements (font, font color, BIU, etc.) so that your chart can reflect your personal or desired style. And they offer a theme library, so you can easily switch between pre-selected color and font options.

Standard editing options for document elements.
A sample (and simple) flowchart

Once you’ve created your document, it’s simple to incorporate your work into other software or interfaces. Lucidchart integrates with numerous types of productivity programs and applications, including Microsoft Office products and Google software. Users can link their Lucidchart account to a Google Drive and open, edit, and collaborate directly from there, or link directly to their Microsoft account, making it simple to insert charts and diagrams directly into documents created in PowerPoint, Word, or Excel.

Free? Basic? Pro?

While the Pro version of Lucidchart offers an extensive variety of features, the Free one will let any user create visually interesting and impactful charts and diagrams. On the free version, a user can have up to three documents in their account at a time. And while some shape libraries and templates are limited to those with paid accounts, the Free account should provide enough for most users.

For those interested in creating more advanced charts and diagrams, the Basic level ($4.95/month) and Pro level ($8.95/month) offer increased features, including unlimited documents and 100 MB storage. And you can try a premium account for free for 14 days, which will let you try out the advanced features to see if a paid subscription is worth it for your needs.

Additionally, Lucidchart offers free Pro upgrades to students, and professors or faculty members can request a free Team account (offering even more third-party integrations and features) for their use in the classroom and by their students.