Home » Featured Articles, Shapes

Circular Multi-arrows

Submitted by on October 9, 2006 – 10:32 am | | 279019 views 106 Comments

« »

Circular Multi-arrowsVisio users have been requesting the ability to add more than five stinking arrows to the Circular Arrow shape. This shape, which comes with Visio, is found in Charts and Graphs > Marketing Diagrams stencil.

This article’s accompanying download offers an improved version of this shape. It allows you to add up to 20 arrows, automatically color them, and choose from 3 arrowhead styles!

Update 2016.12.29

For users of Visio 2013, 2016 (or newer), please read this article and download the updated shape: Visio Circle Arrows 2013

Microsoft’s Circular Arrow shape is not easily customizable by users, or even crazy people/experts like me. So in true Visio-addict-fashion, I’ve built a better, brand-spankin’ new mousetrap and posted it here for your enjoyment and consumption! Tell your friends: Free Custom Visio Marketing Shapes!!! Now that’s a mouthful!

Circular Multi-arrow Shapes

The shape comes in three flavors: Pointy Arrow, Streamlined Arrow and Bar. Each flavor comes in two “sizes”: up-to-10-arrows and up-to-20-arrows. That’s six bonus masters, just for reading this blog! Count ’em: SIX! That ought to satiate even the most arrow-hungry of you out there!

The three flavors differ mainly in arrowhead style:

Circular Multi-arrow Styles

The diagram explains more about how to use the shapes, and the options available via the shape’s context menu. I hope this helps a few of you make even more dazzling marketing diagrams!

Looking for a PowerPoint version of the Circular Multi-arrows shape? Go here: Circular Multi-arrows in Powerpoint!

Edit 2007.11.26 Visio 2002 format now available:

Download for Visio 2007 Format and newer:

Circular Multi-arrow (Visio 2007 format) (281.55 KB) - 8647 downloads


Download for Visio 2002 Format and older:

Circular Multi-arrow (Visio 2002 format) (271.27 KB) - 1684 downloads
Help support Visio Guy!

Note: donations are not required for this download. However, we really appreciate any help we can get!

Feel free to try out the download first, then donate afterwards if you find it really useful. Thank you!


  • Visio Guy says:

    Hi CiroM,

    If you search this web page, you will find a couple of links that say “Log in” or “Register”.

    Either one will work. If you have an account, then you can log in and download, if not, both links will allow you to register as well. Notice that the log in page has a link to “Register” at the bottom, so you can create an account, even if you don’t have one.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    – Chris

  • mair says:

    many thanks brother, this really looked great

  • blair1 says:

    This download isnt working?

  • blair1 says:

    It worked all good! Does anyone know how to adjust the width of the circles?

  • Visio Guy says:

    Hi Blair,

    Glad you got the download working.

    You can change the size of the whole circle just as you would any other Visio shape: pull on the green selection handles.

    To change the thickness of the ring, there is a little yellow control handle at the top of the circle, on the inside of the ring. This changes the width of the arrows.

    – Chris

  • kawikape says:

    This works great! Thanks

  • Visio Guy says:

    Hi KK,

    Glad you like it!

  • Paul Goldberg says:

    Thanks for your cool stencil!
    An idea you may wish to explore:
    1. Allow text to be rotated to prevent inverted text on bottom arrows. I had to use WordArt in Powerpoint to create text then cut and paste onto Visio arrows.

    Thanks again for a very useful stencil!

  • Visio Guy says:

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the feedback, but I don’t understand what you mean. All of the text is right-side up for each arrow segment! So I don’t see where the inverted text would happen. Can you clarify?

  • Rick Neal says:

    I downloaded the program and I can resize the object, adjust the thickness of the arrows and change the color spectrum to get shades of one color, but I cannot figure out how to get the multi-colored diagram shown on the page.

  • Wombat says:

    @Rick. What exaclty can’t you see? The download file has multi-colored samples that you can copy directly.

  • TonyR says:

    I’m trying to set the colors of the Circular Multi-Arrows using Color by Value, and not getting anywhere!

    I can assign my (Access) data to the individual arrows in the circle, but only one of them changes the colors of all the arrows.

    If I ungroup the circular arrows after setting them up, all hell breaks loose – I can’t move them and they seem to be protected in many ways which I cannot see.

    Is there a way to use data to color the individual arrows, please?

  • Visio Guy says:

    Hi Tony,

    As far as I can tell, Visio only allows you to apply data graphics to top-level shapes. Since the arrows are sub-shapes inside of a group, that makes it hard to apply individual data graphics to each (sub) arrow.

    The shape has a lot of ShapeSheet programming that makes all of the automatic features possible. When you ungroup the shape, you break the context in which that programming works. Ie: the shape isn’t designed to be ungrouped.

    Visio 2010 has the new feature of container shapes that allows shapes to be associated together without being buried inside of groups. It might be possible to re-construct this shape using containers, such that data graphics can be applied.

    For now, it would be a lot of work to alter the download in this article to do what you need.

  • mute78 says:

    Great tool! This is exactly what I was looking for. I do have one question though. I would like to add this stencil to my pre-existing stencils in visio but I’m not having any luck with that. Is there a way to incorporate that rather than opening your .vsd file, making the circular arrows then copying and pasting into the needed document? I apologize ahead of time if this is more intuitive that I’m finding it to be. Thanks in advance!


  • Visio Guy says:


    They are already masters! You need to open the “Document Stencil”, then you can just drag the pre-made masters into a new stencil.

    Go to File > Shapes > Show Document stencil. These are masters that are inside of the document.

  • Jason says:

    VisioGuy, I just downloaded your addon and it is working well. thank you! I am looking for a very simple circular arrow that is just a single line that around and stops right before the end with an arrow tip at the end. Any ideas?


  • Visio Guy says:

    Hi Jason,

    You can draw an “almost circle” with the Pencil tool. You have to gesture an arc while you are drawing with the tool, and you will get a circular arc. Try it – you’ll get it after a few times.

    Once you have your unclosed circle, you can add an arrowhead using the Line Format options.

    The resulting shape will be “1D”, meaning it has a start- and end-handle, which might be awkward. If you want it to behave a bit more normally, just select it, then choose Shape > Operations > Combine. This will make the shape “2D”, so that it resizes more like a box.



  • HB says:

    Awesome! Thanks!

  • sbash says:

    Hi Chris (VisioGuy)!!!
    So excited to find this graphic … especially loved the # of arrows feature (I needed 3). Thank you so much! I will definitely be back to visit your site.

  • ToddinSM says:

    Just found this and am VERY new to Visio. Creating a circular group of arrows is pretty intuitive. I have a perfectly sized wheel consisting of 3 arrows. However, now I want to insert text fitted into each arrow. Is there a way to do this without using the circular text generator and then trying to fit that text into the arrows?

  • grass_2k says:

    I like it very much, i had looked for these shapes so long. Thanks very much.

  • joelwitherspoon says:

    Thanks for this.

  • Carol says:

    Question for you — Your circular arrow works great in Visio 2010 but when one of my colleagues tried to edit the text that I had inserted in it, she wasn’t able to do so (she CAN edit the rest of the Visio diagram). Is there something special I need to include that would allow her to edit the arrow? Thanks.

  • Visio Guy says:

    Hi Carol,

    To edit the text on individual arrows, you need to be subselect the shapes. Perhaps your colleague doesn’t understand this?

    Please see: Getting a Handle on Selecting and Subselecting Visio Shapes.

    The colors of handles in Visio 2010 are different than previous versions, but the concepts are the same.

  • Carol says:

    Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll ask her to give it a try.

  • philmayer says:

    How do I color the shapes separately? That is “go for the whole spectrum”?

    I’m using Visio 2010.

    I can edit the text for each arc, and I can format the lines and text, but format fill isn’t working.

  • Visio Guy says:

    Hi Phil,

    The fill colors are locked/protected to enable the smart-coloring that you see. So you can’t easily change the colors without defeating this protection.

    It involves going into the ShapeSheet for each arrow, and removing the GUARD( ) around the formulas in the FillForegnd and FillBkgnd cells.

  • Sebastien Trudel says:


    found a solution to this: 1. Allow text to be rotated to prevent inverted text on bottom arrows. I had to use WordArt in Powerpoint to create text then cut and paste onto Visio arrows.

    Try this out:

    On the master shape’s properties, add this:
    user.HorizText set to TRUE
    actions.row4 | (action): =SETF(GetRef(User.HorizText),NOT(User.HorizText))|(Label): Horizontal Text||(“checked”):user.HorizText

    and to every subshape:
    TxtAngle | IF(Sheet.1!User.HorizText,Angle-Sheet.1!Angle+User.index*2*User.angDelta,-User.angDelta2/2)

    TADA! Checking “Horizontal Text” will make the text of every subshape “Straight” (level, horizontal). You can even rotate the whole master shape to place the colors you want in the place you want. (I liked mine 45 degrees to the left, positioning my first color on “top”).

    Thanks for the stencil, it will be very useful.

    (Mr Visio Guy, you might want to modify the master shape before posting this, see the result, and explain it in a better way, if you’d like. I wrote this super fast, and fully realize I am not “user-friendly” with my mod suggestion… =0)

    Thanks again!


  • Visio Guy says:

    Just right-click the shape and check or uncheck “Level Text”. This feature has been built-in from the start!

  • MakeupbySandie says:

    Thank you!!!!! This was what I needed to produce the kind of chart that I couldn’t with Visio 2007. So easy to use! Looking forward to more!

  • dandhjohn says:

    How can I create 1/2 a circle arrow? The shape for the multi point arrow is great, but I only need 1/2 a circle to show a repeat step in a flow diagram.

  • Robin says:

    Great Stencil – Thanks!
    Any way I can customize the individual arrow color vs. using the color bar and letting it decide the color shade within one color?

  • roxxmiller says:

    Hi. Am I just really ignorant, or how do I actually download the circular arrows?

  • Joaquim says:

    thanks for the programs.
    this good work

  • Visio Guy says:

    Hi R,

    You might try re-registering. The registration email was down yesterday, but seems to be working now.

  • R says:

    Hi – tried that but it says I’m already registered. So when I try to get a new password ie “Lost your password?” it responds:

    “The e-mail could not be sent.
    Possible reason: your host may have disabled the mail() function.”

  • dnewton says:

    I would like to ask a question to an earlier post…

    “The fill colors are locked/protected to enable the smart-coloring that you see. So you can’t easily change the colors without defeating this protection.

    It involves going into the ShapeSheet for each arrow, and removing the GUARD( ) around the formulas in the FillForegnd and FillBkgnd cells.”

    So here is my question. It seems like you can only perform a solid color fill. Is there a way to perform a Gradient or Pattern fill?


  • deemac says:

    Hi, I have downloaded your circular multi-arrow diagram but I only need 3 arrows. When I delete the arrows from the 20 provided by your diagram I can’t work out how to make them all join together.
    In the circular arrow diagram found in Visio under Marketing Diagrams the arrows are counter-clockwise. Do you know how I can make them clockwise? If so then I could just use this template.
    Thanks heaps for a great informative website.

  • Visio Guy says:

    Hi Deemac,

    In the sample drawing that shows you how to use the shape, it says clearly; “Right-click me to change my color, my number of arrows, and to show my Color Bar.”

    You use Shape Data fields, which appear when you right-click the shape to change the number of arrows. If you delete subshapes, you break the shape, so please don’t delete parts of the shape!

  • Visio Guy says:


    Not without altering the ShapeSheet of the arrows. They are locked down to preserve the smart behavior that I built in. Of course, those smarts can’t anticipate the desires of every user. If I were to have it unlocked, then a lot of the functionality would be easily destroyed.

    You’ll notice that you essentially get a gradient when you make the fill color and pattern color not-wildly-different. In the article above, you can see there is an orange/yellow example. The arrows change nicely from orange to yellow.

    If you want each individual arrow to have a gradient, then you’ll have to edit the ShapeSheets.

  • rapple says:

    Is there a particular reason why using the 10 versions I can create a pointy arrow with 1 segment but when I try with streamline or bar it seems to disappear?

    Just as an aside – while experimenting to understand how to set text on arrows and colours generally. If one uses format painter from a nice multi segment coloured wheel such as the ones you include in the sheet and then apply the format paint to another created shape it transfers the original colour gradient for the whole circle to each individual arrow. (At least here, but as I am only 70% sure of what I am doing who knows.

    Thanks anyway for this and other shapes that you produce. Always quality.

  • Visio Guy says:

    Hi Rappie,

    Setting “one arrow” for “streamline” and “bar” styles definitely causes a bug. I’m sure it has something to do with circular-arcs collapsing when they become full-circle arcs.

    I think that the major use-case of this shape is to have multiple arrows, so nobody has had a problem with it (that I can remember…I should read the comments first!)

    Visio definitely does something weird when you use the Format Painter from or to subselected shapes within groups. I’ve noticed it over the years, but have never invested the time to report a proper bug to Microsoft.

  • siramey says:

    When I try either a regular or a premium download, I get a “Product configuration is missing!” message. Is it just me or is there an issue with the downloads? Thanks.

  • Visio Guy says:

    Hi Siramey,

    Not sure exactly what problem you’re having. What is a “premium download”?

    Works fine for me when I click the download links above.

  • alikat says:

    VisGuy – Have you updated this for 2010 and/or 2013?

  • Visio Guy says:

    Hi alikat,

    They seem to work fine in Visio 2013. Are you having problems in the newer editions?

  • Lance says:


    I try to you this template in Visual 2013. I am not able to change colours of the multi-arrows. I can change the number of arrows, but not the colour. Have you tried in 2013?

    Ple3ase let me know. I would like to use this template very much.



  • Lauri says:

    I was so excited to find that you have a solution to the more than 5 arrows dilemma with which I’ve been struggling. I’ve tried many times, with more than one email address, to register on your site, but to no avail. Each time my login fails, whether I use the password I’m sent or try to create my own. I wait the 20 minutes after the failed logins, try again, and the same thing happens. Help!

  • Visio Guy says:

    Hi Lauri,

    Your account is there. Did you check your junk mail folders for the confirmation message? I think you get an email and have to click a link to verify the account.

  • Lauri says:

    Thanks for replying. I do get an email with a confirmation message, and I click to verify the account, but the verification asks me to change the password, and whether I change it or use the defaulted password, it never works. (In a pinch, I ended up using someone’s premade Powerpoint template of circular arrows, but it’s not nearly as elegant a solution as yours.)

Leave a comment!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code lang=""> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> <pre lang="" extra="">

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.