New themes, variants and styles in Visio

As we started working on the new version of Visio, we heard from you that it should be super-easy and fast to create professional looking diagrams in Visio. To help achieve this goal, we redesigned our themes, and created new formatting options and effects that can be quickly accessed using themes. Each theme also comes with four unique variants, giving you more flexibility to fine-tune your diagrams. If you want even more control, a set of styles is provided for each theme, allowing you to format any individual shape, using professionally designed styles and colors.


The new Visio offers a completely new set of 16 different themes. The new themes fully incorporate the new shape effects and improved formatting options. They are professionally designed to give your diagram a variety of dynamic looks, ranging from professional and modern to stylish and hand drawn. By combining colors, fonts, and effects in a unified and purposeful manner, each theme gives your diagram a distinctive, vibrant, and cohesive visual.

Visio network shapes

Themes in the new Visio are just as easy to use as in Visio 2010 – simply select a Theme from the Design tab’s Theme Gallery.

Visio theme gallery

Like in Visio 2010, you can hover your mouse over any of the selections to preview that theme on your diagram. You can quickly experiment with various looks without committing to the change. Once you find the perfect theme for you, you can opt to customize your diagram further with variants and styles.


Each new theme offers four unique variants to choose from. Each variant expresses a distinct look that adds flair while keeping the ethos of their theme. Variants have their own color schemes and shape designs, giving you more choice to define your diagram’s visuals while retaining the essence of the original theme.

Visio workflow shapes

You can apply variants in the same way as themes. The Variants Gallery in the Design tab presents the unique variants for the currently selected theme.

Visio variants gallery

Variants come in a variety of flavors, with color schemes that range from monochromatic to multiple hues, and with styling that ranges from subtle to bold. Just like with themes, you can hover your mouse over the selections to quickly preview that variant on your diagram.

Quick Styles

Each new theme offers a set of quick styles, which are style and color pairings that can be applied to individual shapes. Since quick styles leverage the color scheme and style sets of your chosen theme and variant, you can apply them liberally to shapes while retaining an overall unified look.

You can apply styles through the Shape Styles Gallery in the Home tab. Simply select the shape(s) that you want to format, and then select a style from the gallery. You can view the entire gallery by clicking on the down-arrow to the right of the gallery. You can hover over any of the selections to preview them on your diagram.

Visio shape styles gallery

Styles support all shape types in Visio. In addition to two-dimensional shapes, we offer Quick Styles for connectors and lines as well:

Visio connector styles

Visio connector styles

Custom Options

We offer several custom options that you can use to customize out-of-the-box themes to your liking.

Mix and Match Theme Components

The new Visio themes are made up of several components, each of which can be mixed together to produce customized looks. You can create your own custom theme by piecing together components from any of the available themes. Click on the down-arrow to the right of the Variant Gallery in the Design tab to view the custom options. Here, you can select a new color scheme, effect style set, and/or a connector style set from any of the other themes in Visio. You can hover over any of the selections to quickly experiment.

Visio custom colors

Your choices influence not just the theme itself, but also its variants and shape styles. Your customized theme is saved in the Theme Gallery and can be reused for other pages in your diagram. You can find it by clicking on the down-arrow to the right of the Theme Gallery in the Design tab. Your custom themes can be found in the “This Document” category.


The new Visio, we are introducing a new theme concept called “embellishment”. Embellishment influences the overall tone of the diagram. Going beyond just formatting and effects, embellishment influences the geometry of certain shapes by causing them to express a collection of appearances ranging from understated to elaborate.

Visio container embellishments

Each new theme and variant will automatically set an appropriate embellishment setting. If you wish to specify your own, you can do so by clicking on the down-arrow to the right of the Variant Gallery in the Design tab. The embellishment fly-out allows you to control the embellishment setting, which ranges from low to high (corresponding to subtle to elaborate). You can hover over the selections to preview them on your diagram.

Visio embellishments

In Summary

The new themes offer professional and polished new visuals and more choice to ensure that you’ll always find the right look for your diagram. Give all the themes a try – you might just find a new favorite! Please take the time to post your comments or questions, and let us know what you think about our themes.