How to Make a Network Map

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Making a network map can give your colleagues or potential clients an idea of the possibilities that become available because of implementing or changing a computer network. Microsoft Visio is a graphics software that is available for free trial download at Microsoft.com that is made specifically for representing networks of various types with industry standard symbols. If you've never used Microsoft Visio before, you'll be surprised at the several types of feature-rich options available to help make your diagramming experience more pleasant than trying to create one from scratch.

Things You'll Need

  • Microsoft Visio installed on a PC
  • Open Microsoft Visio. Choose "Network" from the folders in the column on the left-hand side. The screen will change with a listing of networking templates to choose from. Click on "Basic Network Diagram." Click on the "Create" button in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. A blank grid will appear in the right hand of the screen.

  • Click on the bottom two tabs of the "Shape" column on the left-hand side to view the different computer, monitor, network and peripheral shapes at your disposal.

  • Click on the blue "User" icon shape in the "Network and Peripherals" tab. Drag the shape over to the grid and let go of the mouse key. This will be the beginning of your network map since networking must involve an initiation of a user.

  • Continue clicking and dragging necessary shapes to the grid and place them on the grid where you need them to be. To add another page to your network map, right click on the "Page 1" tab at the bottom of the screen. Choose "Insert Page" and continue placing items as necessary on the next grid.

  • Connect the network shapes by clicking on the "Connector Tool" icon located to the left of the big "A" in the icon tool bar at the top of the page. Hover the cursor over the first shape of your network map and hold the cursor down when you see the red "x." Drag the mouse to the next shape with the other red "x" and let go. A connector line will appear. Continue connecting your icons on the network map as necessary.

  • Label any icons you need by clicking on the big "A" in the icon tool bar at the top of the page, activating the text tool. Double click next to any icons on your network map. Type any text necessary and hit the "Enter" key when you are finished.

  • Save your work when you are done.

Tips & Warnings

  • You could make a network diagram with other free software packages available on the Internet as long as the software comes with icons that are easily recognized as networking components like icons for firewalls, PDAs, personal computers, laptops, wiring boxes and more. If you are not making a network map for a computer system but instead, say, a network map of a company chain of command, for example, you could easily use the shapes contained in any word-processing software that contained square and rectangle shapes along with connecting lines to insert into the document.
  • You may find during the creation of your network map that you want to detail out certain sections more than others. When you're finished with the overall network map, you can always create a separate document to detail out the section that needs more detailed diagramming. The creation of your network map can take longer than anticipated if you are not familiar with the features of Microsoft Visio.

References

  • Photo Credit network image by dinostock from Fotolia.com
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