Before you start drawing with a pencil, you get a sheet of paper. In the same way, you select New from Visio's File menu to create a new, blank drawing.

Visio 5.0 lets you start a new drawing in three ways:

* Begin with a template drawing.
* Start with a blank drawing.
* Create a new drawing with a wizard.

In this tutorial, you learn about the three ways of starting a new drawing.

Starting with a Template Drawing
In your office, you probably work with many kinds and sizes of paper: plain paper, memorandums, graph paper, legal size, broadsheet, forms, and so on. In the same way, Visio provides many kinds of "paper" for creating new drawings. These papers are called template drawings. A template drawing has some drawing properties set up for you, such as the size and orientation of the paper, a scale factor, and one or more stencil collections of shapes. A template drawing has the filename extension of VST, such as SitePlan.Vst.

Template drawings are so useful that when you start Visio for the first time, it displays the Choose a Template Drawing dialog box. Depending on which of the three editions of Visio you have -- Standard, Technical, or Professional -- each comes with a different collection of template files:

* Visio Standard includes templates with for creating drawings of block diagrams, flowcharts, maps, office layouts, and project timelines.
* Visio Technical adds technically-oriented templates, such as chemical and petroleum engineering, house and landscape planning, software and network design, mechanical and electrical engineering, and space planning.
* Visio Professional has all the templates in Standard, plus additional templates for networks, Internet design, database design, and visual modeling (software design).

The Home - Bath and Kitchen Plan.Vst template drawing.
The Home-Bath and Kitchen Plan.Vst template drawing.

For example, the Home-Bath and Kitchen Plan.Vst template drawing (with Visio Technical, look for it in the \Visio\Solutions\Aec folder) automatically sets up these drawing properties:
Paper: 8-1/2" x 11", landscape orientation.
Scale: 1/4" = 1' (notice the foot markings on the horizontal and vertical rulers).
Stencils: Walls, Shell and Structure
Home - Cabinets
Home - Bath and Kitchen
Home - Appliance
General - Dimensions, Architectural
General - Annotation
Electrical and Telecom
Additional Toolbar: Wall Tools toolbar (located just above the stencils).

You are not stuck with the template drawings that Visio provides. Feel free to modify any template to suit your need; just remember to give it a different name or store it in another subdirectory. The properties you can save in a template drawing include:

* Layers, scale, and page settings.
* Snap and glue settings.
* Color palette.
* Shape styles and text styles.
* Print setup.
* Window size and position.

Or, you can create a template drawing from scratch. Why would you want to make your own template? One reason is that you can create a consistent look to all your drawings. Templates are an excellent way to affirm corporate standards. For example, to ensure the corporate logo and copyright statement appear in every drawing, create a layer with that information, then save the drawing as a template.

Starting with a Blank Drawing
When you choose no template drawing, Visio starts with a blank drawing with these properties: an 8-1/2"x11" sheet of paper in portrait orientation, a scale of 1:1, and no stencil or shapes loaded. This is unlike versions of Visio earlier than 5.0, which loaded the Basic Shapes stencil.

Why would you want to start with a blank drawing? Starting with a blank drawing is best when you want to create a new drawing from scratch, with no assistance from Visio's templates or wizards.

Starting with a Wizard
All three Visio packages include wizards. "Wizard" is a Microsoft term for a dialog box that guides you through the steps of setting up a preliminary drawing, setting the scale, filling in the title block, and placing a border around the drawing. Along the way, the wizard prompts you to select options and type information. Depending on which package of Visio you have, wizards are available for creating flowcharts, office layouts, organizational charts, project timelines, and other specialized drawings.

However, I find that there are two distinct disadvantages to using a wizard.

1. I find it becomes tedious answering the wizard's many questions, then waiting for the time it takes the wizard to compete its work.
2. Once the wizard is complete, I find I sometimes end up doing more work editing the drawing created by the wizard than I would have starting the drawing from scratch.

When you start Visio, it automatically displays the Choose a Template Drawing dialog box. From this dialog box, you select the name of the template.

You can start a new drawing anytime you are in Visio using shortcut keys, menu picks or the toolbar icon.
Shortcut Keys Menu Toolbar Icon
Ctrl+N File > New New drawing icon

Alternative method:

1. Select New from the menu bar.
2. Select a discipline name from the menu, such as AEC, Block Diagram, and Business Diagram. (The list varies, depending whether you have Visio Standard, Technical, or Professional.)
3. Select a template name from the list. For example, under Business Diagram, you can choose from Charts and Graphics, Form Design, and Marketing Charts and Diagrams.

Visio opens a blank scaled drawing with the appropriate stencils, ready for you to begin work.