Scroll down for the basics and tips/hints to deliver better results

 (First tip: why not open this on another device, tab or another screen to refer to while you work through this in Elements.)

When you first create a map, Elements knows that you are editing and will open the blank diagram in edit mode. From then on, however, even as an editor, Elements assumes that you are viewing content. So, if you want to edit, once you have opened a diagram, change it to edit mode by clicking on SWITCH TO EDIT in the top-right of your screen.

(If you don’t edit anything for a few minutes, you will lose the edit lock on the diagram and have to click on SWITCH TO EDIT again. Also, the top bar with the edit button may be hidden using the blue arrow buttons)

Drawing diagrams and structuring maps:

Keeping things simple makes your maps much more powerful. Use the simple building block combined with hierarchical mapping to make your maps easy to read, understand, and navigate. The few key steps at each level of detail link to supporting information and/or more detail. 

Activity boxes:

Drag “Activity Box” from the left palette, or if you prefer to close the left panel, double click on the canvas to draw boxes. Double click on an activity box to edit the text.

To Link activity boxes or draw lines:

Roll over an activity box (don’t click) and blue "x" line handles appear outside the edge of the box.

Click and drag a line from the highlighted handle.

Select "Add Activity", terminator or connector as appropriate, or click on the canvas to leave a floating line.

To link existing boxes, drag the end of the line into the center of another activity box or to a specific anchor point to link.

Another way to drag lines out, add boxes, or link boxes, is first to select an existing box:

Click on the "+", then drag, let go, and select “Add activity”.

(Useful tip: hold Ctrl down (cmd on Mac) when you click and drag from an activity box handle or ‘+’ to reverse the direction of the line.)

Line text:

Double click on the line text (or orange dot) to edit. Select the text and then click and drag the text or orange dot to move.

Note: line text does NOT auto-wrap and cannot be sized by dragging. You need to put in (or remove) any returns manually.


Why not first have a quick look at this short video snippet:

Right click and select “Add drilldown”. This creates a new diagram which is the "child diagram" of this activity box.

When you initially create a new drilldown, any inputs and outputs to the parent activity are copied to the left and right of the screen as appropriate to guide you as to the scope you should be mapping between. However, these are guides/reminders only – they do not stay in synch. Often a high-level input might be a summary, whereas in the child diagram, that one input becomes multiple detailed inputs.

If you want to delete a drilldown, you right-click on the ‘drilldown’ corner, top-left on the box. Deleted drilldowns will be saved as a map in the "deleted maps" folder. You can get to them on the "maps" window under the Process menu option in the Elements Home browser tab.


You can add single or multiple resources to an activity box.

Right click on an activity and select “Add resource”. Start typing the name of the resource in the search box. The list of available resources will filter. If the resource does not exist, select the type of resource [ human / facility / system ] and hit “CREATE”.

To delete a resource, roll over it and click on the "x". To reorder the resources, just click and drag.

WARNING: resources you create are visible to all users in your Space.

Manage resource details in the diagram right hand panel. You can report on resource allocation across your map in order to, for example, highlight all the activities a given resource is involved in, or understand the relationships between activities, roles and the systems or facilities used. Combining with data structures, you can expand the scope and value of those relationships. See [metadata structures] and [reporting].

In Process Knowledge Pro*, you will have the ability to add hidden resources to activities, control (in the right hand panel) what is displayed on a diagram, and attribute RASCI (Responsible, Accountable, Supporting, Consulted, Informed) tags by resource. In the Pro version, reporting and working with a RACI or RASCI matrix adds another dimension of power to the knowledge you have captured.


Right click and select “Add attachment”. Attachment types are Notes, URL, Data Structures, and images (Pro).

Data Tables are added, edited and managed in the Elements Space Management, under the data tables menu option.

Note: the fastest way to link URLs is to copy and paste the URL you want.

Free text:

Click and drag from the left panel onto the canvas.
(If the left panel is hidden use the blue arrow button to bring it back)

If you prefer to close the left panel, use the blue arrow button to hide it. 

Double click on the text box to edit it.

Sticky Notes

Click and drag on Sticky Notes from the left panel or shift double click. Use like Post-It® notes in real life to capture input and engage in live workshops or simply to note ideas while you are mapping. For full detail on how to use see here.

Alignment and Sizing

When you drag activities to move them, alignment guides will automatically appear in the canvas. Alternatively, you can highlight multiple activities and use the "align and distribute" icon on the top bar to tidy up diagrams quickly. See the Alignment and Sizing page if you need more detail.

Diagram scope and intent:

There are huge benefits to being clear about WHAT you are mapping and WHY – ideally before you start [click for more detail]. You can enter the "diagram intent" in the right-hand panel (click on the blue arrow button to show it/hide it).

Make sure you ALSO go on to review how to manage spaces after this article, which has another video and a Deep Dive on content

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