Going Off the Page

In an ideal world every business process would each fit on a single page.  Users have employed a variety of techniques to squeeze more information into a finite space.  Ultimately some business process diagrams must span across more than one page.  To maintain connectivity between the pages, Visio provides the Off-page reference shape.



The Off-page reference shape can be found in the Basic Flowchart Shapes stencil that opens with flowchart diagrams.  It works like any other flowchart shape.  You can connect it to other shapes and add text or formatting.  When the Off-page reference is dropped on the page, a dialog box appears asking where the shape should link.



By default a new page will be created, and a copy of the Off-page reference shape will be added to that page.  The two shapes are linked to each other via hyperlink and as well as double-click.  There is also an option for synchronizing the text between the shapes.


However, this behavior is not limited to the Off-page reference shape.  The functionality behind the shape is provided by the Off-Page Connector (OPC) add-on.  Your shapes can offer the same linking capability by adding a few calls to this add-on.  Put the following formulas into these cells in the Events section of the Shapesheet for your shape.









The EventDrop cell is triggered when the shape is dropped on a page.  /CMD=1 tells the Off-Page Connector add-on to show the Off-page reference dialog.  Clicking OK in the dialog will cause the add-on to insert the necessary tracking and linking information into your shape.  EventDblClick is the trigger for double-clicking on the shape.  TheText is the trigger for shape text changes.


There is a bonus feature in the Off-Page Connector add-on that is not exposed by the Off-page reference shape.  It is possible to link to separate documents in addition to other pages in the same document.  Use these formulas to trigger the Off-document reference.







When an Off-document reference is triggered, the Off-document reference dialog appears asking what document and page to link to.  Once the link is established, double-clicking or activating the hyperlink will take you to the other document.  Visio will open the other document if it is not opened already.  Note that text synchronization is not provided across documents.



The Off-Page Connector add-on is available in both Visio Standard and Professional editions, so your custom reference shapes will work with any installation.  If you use the Off-page reference shape or create diagrams that span across pages, please tell us about it.  We would like to hear what types of drawings you work with and how you set up the links.


Comments (21)

  1. Anonymous Coward says:

    While it’s sort-of better than nothing, I don’t think that manual placement of off-page symbols (with or without automatically-updated hyperlinks) goes far enough.

    What would <strong>really</strong> be useful, methinks, would be to have a virtual diagram larger than a single page with automatic insertion of spanning symbols when lines cross the page boundaries.

  2. Visio Team says:

    That’s a great suggestion. Perhaps this is a similar issue to line jumps – meaning that when a connector crosses a page boundary there could be a visible change in geometry. One question is what kind of "spanning symbol" would you expect? Does the symbol need to indicate what it links to?  Does the symbol need to provide the ability to go to that link?

  3. Here are some tips for building great flowcharts in Visio. The last three are specific to Visio 2007,…

  4. Anonymous Coward says:

    It would be nice if Visio would let us link off-page connectors on different pages to a single off-page connector on a given page.  So, for example, if you have a multipage flowchart and two different pages link forward to the same point in the flowchart on a third page…  I’m using Visio 2003 Standard, and it doesn’t seem to support this operation.  The best that I can do is to link each of the source connectors to the *page* on which the destination connector sits, but I cannot link the source connectors directly to the destination connector.  This is important, inasmuch as there may be many different receiving connectors on the destination page.

    I don’t see how to do this with shapesheets or with Insert -> Hyperlinks.

    Help would certainly be appreciated, but I would like to see this capability built-in, rather than settling for a workaround.

  5. coyoteworks711 says:

    Quick follow-up to my previous comment (formerly, "Anonymous Coward" — I have now signed up with MSN.Blogs).  Just to be absolutely clear, I am envisioning being able to link a new off-page connector to an already existing connector on a different page.

  6. Visio Team says:

    Thanks for the comments.  This is not supported today, but we are very interested in the functionality you describe.  Visio needs to do a better job managing interrelated diagrams.

    Mark Nelson

  7. coyoteworks711 says:

    Thanks for your reply!  I can settle for getting to the correct page, for now.  I appreciate your eagerness to improve your product.  Best wishes!

  8. Rex Hunt says:

    These connectors are a bit primitive, especially at 2010 level. Why cant you just make an image a hyperlink which when clicked on goes to a new page like in Concept Map (eg Right Click on image "Send to New Page" (way smarter).). Once you finish mucking around with these connectors you have lost another couple of hours.  The same goes for the display. If I wanted a marker that takes up 5% of the page size in my exported diagram I would consider using paint, not visio 2010.

  9. Jim Zimmer says:

    I am attempting to use an the Off-page reference shape from within a program.  Since this is an automated process I do now want to have the box appear each time I add a new set of shapes.  I am wondering if their is a way to disable the display of the dialog box and populate the correct fields before I drop the shape.  Any help would be appreciated!

  10. Vito says:

    I'm working with SAMA diagrams (a kind of logic diagrams for process industry). I know a lot of companies like ours would be interested in a diagramming software since there's nothing like this on the market today. I'm trying to replace our old time-consuming autocad diagramming system with visio, but OPC system is not enough "flexible" yet. I agree with anonymous and coyote for the need in a one-to many connector. It should be also useful to have other fields in the connector e.g.to show an unique ID (maybe automatically assigned, this should be useful for the programmers who will translate in software language the diagrams) and source/destination page. I would like to do it on my own but it looks like add-ons are not editable.

  11. Richard says:

    another bad help site. Still can't figure out how to change text of an off-page reference.

  12. MattP says:

    Hi Richard

    I think to add or change text in an Off-Page reference, select the Off-Page Reference and then select the Text Tool button (A). You should then be able to add or overwrite the text in the Off-Page reference.

    Kind regards

  13. ProcessMapperTeam101 says:

    Why doesn't the "Check Diagram" feature recognize the correct use of the Off-page reference? Am I using incorrectly? I thought the purpose of this symbol was to say "Continued" elsewhere and continue with the flow. Instead, when I use the "Check Diagram" feature, the errors like the chart does not start with a Start/End shape, etc.

  14. ProcessMapperTeam101 says:

    Also, why aren't these comments showing in reverse order. I would like to see the most recent first. Thanks

  15. ProcessMapperTeam101 says:

    I cannot find the Delay Shape in Visio. Search returns nothing. Does anyone know how to find this shape? Thanks

  16. ProcessMapperTeam101 says:

    I found the Delay shape. Go to More Shapes/Flowchart/Miscellaneous Flowchart Shapes.

  17. novski says:

    hey – visio team. The Picture-links are broken. can you restore them? Thanks

  18. Foggy says:


    I was also looking for the capability to link two off page connectors to a single connector on another page. Hence I found this post. After reading the first page I gave up.

    Then I found a solution by accident…

    If you set up a single set of off page connectors and then copy and paste the source off page connector you will end up with two connectors that hyperlink to a single off page connector.

    There is a problem however that if you click on the destination connector Visio does not know which source connector to take you to. This should not be a problem though for most users as the off page link should go in a single direction

  19. wyatt-arp says:

    Hi, Thank you for the above.  I'm looking for the Page Name definition i.e. how long can the name be; can it start with any character and include any character, etc.  Thanks so much, Wyatt-arp

  20. galintune says:

    I would like to link page A to pages B, C, D, and E.  Has anyone been able to figure out how to do this easily in Visio 2013 or 2010?

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