How to Draw Network Diagrams

A network diagram is a way to illustrate the relationships among components. When drawing a network diagram, you'll need three things: symbols representing those components, connecting lines, and a way to clearly label them.

SmartDraw gives you all three. It includes a large library of symbols representing servers, computers, routers and more. Labels are simple to add. It also allows you to easily and intuitively draw your network diagram.

This short video provides a quick overview of how to draw a network diagram with SmartDraw.

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Getting Started

To start drawing, open a Network Diagram template from the IT and Networks category under New Document.

This template will open with a set of relevant symbols and controls.

You can also build a visual of your Azure or AWS set up automatically.

Network templates

Finding the Correct Device

Any network diagram template opens with a few libraries of commonly used symbols docked next to in the SmartPanel.

You can find additional devices and symbols in SmartDraw using the Search command.

To search for additional symbols, just type any words in the Search for symbols box. The search results will be grouped by the libraries they were found in.

You can drag and drop symbols directly from the search results into your landscape design.

Click on the plus sign next to any group of results and you can either choose Add result or Add library for future use. Add result only adds the symbols that matched your query. Add library will add the entire library the symbols were found in.

Search for more network design symbols and components

Adding a Device to Your Drawing

To start your diagram, drag and drop any network diagram symbol from the left panel to your workspace.

Add network symbols

Connecting Devices

Once you have added a network symbol to your drawing, you can add a new connected symbol by simply clicking on one of the yellow dots on the perimeter of the symbol, drawing a line, and choosing a new symbol from the auto-prompt.

Connect new network symbols

Connection Points

When you link to a device, black dots called Connection Points appear on its edges. These points show the places where the device can be linked to a line or to another device. You can adjust the positions of these connection points by selecting the symbol and clicking on Connection Points in the Design tab.

In the dialog that pops up you'll see your current Connection Points appear around the preview of the device. Click on a connection point and drag it to the desired position. By moving the connection points you can control where lines will link to this particular device. For example, you can show a cable linked to a specific port by connecting a line to a connection point that you have positioned on top of the port.

Connection points

Adding a Text Label to a Device

SmartDraw objects can automatically have text labels associated with them. To put a text label on a device in your drawing, double-click on the device in your drawing and simply type the label. By default, the text label will automatically go below the object.

To change the location of the text label relative to the object, click on Text Entry in the Design tab. You can set whether your text appears below, above, or inside the object. When you choose to place text inside the object, you can set the text entry area by adjusting the four margin lines as shown below.

You can now type device names, details, descriptions inside the object for a professional look. The text label stays with the device when you move it. To edit it, simply double click on the text.

Type your device name for your network diagram

Creating a Custom Library of Symbols

If you imported a symbol from somewhere else or drew your own, you can create your own custom library of images.

To create a custom library, click on More in the symbols section of the SmartPanel on the left hand side of your workspace. Next, click on strong>Add New and select strong>Add New Custom Library in the dialog that opens.

Next, name the library.

The new library will be immediately docked next to your drawing.

Add a custom library

To add a device to your new library, drag the device onto the library window until you see the add library cursor, then release the device with the mouse.

Before your device is added to the library, you'll have the opportunity to give it a name and set how it will be change colors when added to a diagram.

The new device symbol will appear as a button in your library window.

Add new custom symbol

Importing Visio Stencils

In addition to creating one off custom symbols and custom libraries, you can also import any existing symbols you may have stored as Visio stencils.

To import Visio stencils, first click on More in the Symbols area of your SmartPanel to the left of your drawing area. Next, click on Add New in the Symbol Libraries dialog and choose the Import Visio Stencils.

You'll be able to browse for a Visio stencil file on your desktop.

Import Visio Stencil
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