Is this layout possible using Visio?


I have a need to replicate/reproduce this type of swimlane layout in Visio, but I'm struggling to figure out how!


What perhaps suggests it may not be Visio & swimlane friendly is that the horizontal separators only appear on the left side for three lanes, and once on the right lane, and there appear to be 'merged' lanes on the left with multiple lanes on the right.  The sort of thing that you can do in Excel or Word tables easily.  I'm beginning to think think that the 'word' elements are produced in Excel or Word and then imported and overlaid with plain vertical swimlanes numbered 1 to 10 across the middle in which flow chart shapes are placed and linked.


Does anyone have any suggestions how to achieve this without resorting to separate Excel / Word docs?  Or is this a case of just giving up and using Excel/Word to import?!


Thanks for looking at my first post in here!

1 Reply


Hi Bob,

This is pretty easy to do in Visio 2019. You  need to create 1 foreground page for this and 1 background page. First create the background page by clicking the background radio button and give it a name.  They both need to be the same size, A4 or A3 portrait, for example.

On the background page you create the frame with all the rectangles.

On the foreground page you click the tab at the bottom with the page name of the foreground page.

Now you're going to connect the background page to the foreground page by rightclicking the page name of the foreground page and selecting Page Setup. In the Background: field you select the name you gave the background page. (If the background page hasn't been created yet, you won't be able to select it from the foreground page) Now you should see the frame of the background page on the foreground page. The advantage of this setup is that the frame doesn't move when you add the blocks and arrows on the foreground page. When you want to line up the content with the frame, you go back and forth between the foreground page and the background page until everything looks good.

Then you can make a screen shot and insert it into you document. As soon as everything of the frame on the background page is perfect, you do a select all, rightclick and select Group > group. That way you can move all the rectangles of the frame as one unit. When you need to edit the frame on the background page, don't forget to first ungroup the frame rectangles before you do your edit. When you're done, reapply the select all and group > group. If you have a question send me an E-mail at