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Using Visio Layer Functionality

 This article is suitable for a Process Mapper

Ref: 20071011
Last edited September 29th 2011


Visio's Layer functionality enables adding a layer on top of your process map where you can add annotations. Then you can choose to either have this layer visible or invisible.

Creating Layers

The first thing you need to do is create a new layer.

Select View > Layer Properties

There are three layers already in this process map which are Activities, Connector, Deliverables, all of which are visible.

1. Select New and input a name for your new layer (i.e. Annotations). Make the layer Visible and give it a colour.

2. Select OK.
Now you have a new layer to which you can apply shapes. You can use Visio's Callout stencil to add callout shapes. This stencil can be found from File > Shapes > Visio Extra > Callouts.
3. Drag and drop callout box and place it next to a shape.

4. Now you just need to apply these shapes to the new layer called Annotations. To do this, select the shape, right-click and select Format > Layer. You will then see a Layers dialog. Tick the box next to Annotations and select OK.

You will see that the shape turns the colour set by the layer. In this example, the shape callout shape turns red. Now, you have the option to leave these annotations visible on the process map for publish to the Sandpit site or you can make this layer invisible.
5. If you would like for this layer to become invisible, Go to View > Layer Properties and deselect Visible for the Annotations Layer.


  • Can make annotations on process maps using Visio's callout stencil
  • Can either make layers visible or invisible in html output
  • Useful for draft (Sandpit) process library site
  • Great way of communicating information to specific audiences


  • Currently no way to globally apply settings of visibility
  • Visibility option only accessed within process map (.vdx)
  • No way to extract annotations into a report

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