Network Diagrams:Aligning Shapes

There are times in a diagram when you create a number of shapes that must line up, exactly, so that they “look proper”. Visio has a tool that does it exactly right.

Align a row of servers

Lets diagram a number of servers as you see them in a serverfarm. Drag a server onto the page and then “duplicate” it with the Ctrl-D keyboard shortcut. You may have to move it to the right a bit so it doesn’t overlap – it shoudl look approximately like this:


Now lets align these shapes horizontally using Shapes, Align Shapes:


Select the centre on middles. Most of the options here should be obvious.


And now we have a straight line of servers. I think this is a good representation of a server farm.


Other Shapes

The shapes do not have to be identical of course:


will become:



If you decide to group shapes together, then the center that is used may not be where you expect. This means that you may have to ungroup shapes to align them correctly.

Other Posts in A Series On The Same Topic

  1. Free Custom Handwriting Font for Network Designs (14th August 2014)
  2. Network Diagrams: Font Selection and Production Context. Choosing Slab or Thin fonts (9th June 2014)
  3. Book Release: Tips on Using Visio To Make Network Diagrams (27th March 2014)
  4. Network Diagrams: Drawing Overlay Network Layers (14th March 2014)
  5. Network Diagrams: Choosing Better and Free Fonts (10th January 2014)
  6. My New Diagram Colour Scheme "Old Disco Style" (24th September 2013)
  7. On Diagrams and Information (10th September 2013)
  8. Colour Blindness, Network Diagrams and Reliability (3rd March 2011)
  9. Designer or Engineer, Artist or Painter (19th January 2010)
  10. Network Diagrams: Rotating Text on a Line (1st October 2009)
  11. Network Diagrams: Tips for Printing from Visio (22nd September 2009)
  12. Network Diagrams:Zones on a diagram with Visio shape union (31st July 2009)
  13. Network Diagrams: Drawing complex VLAN Networks with IP Addressing (7th July 2009)
  14. Network Diagrams: Drawing Freehand Curves (and then fixing them) (23rd March 2009)
  15. Network Diagrams:Aligning Shapes (12th March 2009)
  16. Network Diagrams:Locking the Background Shape (10th March 2009)
  17. Network Diagrams: Labelling an VLAN/IP Segment (9th March 2009)
  18. Network Diagrams: VLANs and IP Subnets (8th March 2009)
  19. Network Diagrams: Drawing the Background Shape (6th March 2009)
  20. On the Art of Network Diagrams and Presentation (4th March 2009)
  • Ed

    Great post…just learned something new about Visio. Thx!

    • Greg Ferro


  • David

    Thanks for the tip Greg. However, when I do this my servers end up bunched together or not evenly spaced. Is there a way to space them exactly the same? I’ve searched and tried different things to no avail. Thanks!

    • Greg Ferro

      Use the Shape, Distribute Shapes feature. It will evenly space all of the currently selected objects.

      • David

        Yeah, tried that, but for some reason it doesn’t work for me. I even tried upgrading to Visio 2010 thinking something was wrong with my install, but I get the same result. Maybe I’m doing it wrong. I’m simply creating a new doc, dragging out a server, clicking Ctl-D several times, selecting the group by dragging an outline around all servers with my mouse, Select spacing options and changing to a larger value / OK, but nothing changes.