What is a Graphic Organizer: Explain with Examples

“I want to create some graphic organizer diagrams for my students so that they can learn new concepts easily. Is there any tool that I can use to draw graphic organizers?”

If you have a similar question in mind and would like to know what a graphic organizer is, then you are in the right place. Ideally, graphic organizers and illustrations are extensively used by teachers, students, and even professionals alike these days. This is because they make it easier for us to present a complex piece of information in a simpler manner. Also, they have such a diverse use and are so easy to make! Don’t believe us? Head on and learn how to make them on your own with these graphic organizer examples and theory.

What is a Graphic Organizer?

In a nutshell, the graphic organizer could be an illustration that gives a visual representation of concepts, ideas, or facts. It can be used to depict a relationship between several things, differentiate them, tell a story, and draw conclusions, and so on. To do this, they take the assistance of numerous visual aids and concept mapping. Unlike other professional methodologies, graphic organizers don't follow a set of rules.

Since there could be numerous applications of graphic organizers, they feature different types of diagrams that we can use. For instance, consider this simple Venn diagram that compared individualism and collectivism. Apart from listing their pros and cons separately, it also includes what is common between them. Needless to say, the visual representation would make it easier for a learner to understand the concept.

What is Graphic Organizer

Common Types of Graphic Organizers

From storyboards to conceptual maps and sequence diagrams to KWL charts, there could be all kinds of graphic organizers. Mostly, educators and learners use the following graphic organizer diagrams these days.

Grid Matrix

To start with, let’s have a look at the simplest kind of graphic organizer. In this, we create a grid that has certain columns and rows. Mostly, it is used to represent facts or compare several things together.

Grid Matrix
Classification diagrams

These diagrams are also extremely simple to make and helps us break down a concept into sub-levels. You can take any topic as a root and list its sub-systems, parts, etc. by dividing it into different components. You can traverse it via a top-down or a bottom-up approach.

Classification Diagrams
Sequence diagrams

If you want to depict a series of events in a simpler manner, then use a sequence diagram. It follows a chronological order in which one thing leads to another. They are mostly used to draw historic events or explain how a task has to be achieved. These diagrams are further divided as chain, ladder, or cycle.

Sequence Diagrams
Venn Diagrams

Originated from graph theory, Venn Diagrams are also extensively used in our everyday documentation. In this, two or more components are compared with each other. Apart from listing their differences, we also note down their similarities. That is why, they are also known as compare and contrast organizers.

Venn Diagrams
Spider Maps

As the name suggests, these diagrams look similar to a spider web. It has a major concept listed right at the center and numerous branches. Although, they resemble a mind map, they are more focused on a single entity and its classification.

Spider Maps

These are one of the most engaging and visually appealing graphic organizer types out there. It is mostly focused on the process and represents the information in the form of a story. That is, it has a proper beginning, middle, and an end that the learners can observe. When it comes to storyboard – the sky is the limit as there are no strict rules.

KWL Charts

KWL stands for Know, What to Learn, and Learned. Needless to say, the entire graphic organizer is based on these three components. Firstly, we discuss what we already know. Later, the objective of the lesson is listed, which leads to problem discussion. In the end, a conclusion is drawn on what is learned.

KWL Charts
Other diagrams

Apart from the above-listed graphic organizer examples, there are several other types of these diagrams. Some common types are concept map, circle chart, mind map, fishbone, cause and effect chart, etc. that you can further explore.

What are Graphic Organizers used for?

After learning what a graphic organizer is, you can easily see that they have such a universal application. Ideally, people use them for these three applications.

For Learning

It is a known fact that visual aids like a graphic organizer are extremely beneficial for learning. As we solve a problem by giving it a pictorial representation, it makes it easier for us to grasp the concept. That is why mind maps are mostly used these days as a learning tool. Not only it encourages self learning, but the logic behind the problem is understood and retained in the mind.

For Teaching

Needless to say, with so many graphic organizer examples, it is now easier than ever to teach a concept. We can draw the sequence diagram to teach how a process works or simply compare two entities using a Venn diagram. These illustrations work as an ideal visual aid for educators to impart knowledge to their students and also to discuss any topic in detail.

For visual representations

If you are a professional who wants to come up with visually appealing documents, then a graphic organizer diagram would fit the bill. They are used by all kinds of professionals to explain a problem, work on a project, explain a strategy, and do so much more.

Pros & Cons of Graphic Organizers

Just like any other kind of visual tool, graphic organizers also have their advantages and limitations. Lets’ quickly have a look at why you should consider using them right here.


  • They can easily draw a relationship (similarities or differences) between two or more components in a simpler manner.
  • With the help of grids and charts, we can also organize our data instead of leaving it cluttered. Subsequently, data can be formed into meaningful information this way.
  • Most of these graphic organizer diagrams are self-explanatory and saves a lot of time while presenting.
  • They encourage self-learning and would help us solve a problem on our own.
  • With diagrams like a storyboard, we can make education so much interesting for kids and even help students with learning disabilities.


  • There is a lack of standards for graphic organizers and thus visuals drawn by an individual might not be properly understood by someone else.
  • Too many times, a crucial piece of information is left or wrongly represented in these diagrams.
  • A few diagrams are a bit unorganized and need to be refined.

Learn From Graphic Organizer Examples

Even though by now you know what a graphic organizer is, you need to learn from some examples so that you can create one on your own. Here are not one, but three different graphic organizer examples to explain the same.

The Water Cycle

This is one of those concepts that we all have learned in school. Now, with these graphic organizer examples, you can easily teach others the same concept. By using different vectors, we have explained how water is evaporated from the ground by the sun. Later, it is condensed to form the clouds. In the end, it comes back to the land via precipitation (rain).

Water Cycle Graphic
Migratory Birds KWL

As you know, a KWL chart has three major components. Firstly, we have listed some basic things about migratory birds that we already know. In the beginning of the lecture, you can list the things you are about to cover. In the end, you can quickly note down what is learned in the lecture.

Migratory Bird Graphic
Lack of Reading Interest Fishbone

In this Fishbone diagram, we have discussed why kids lose their reading interest. The Fishbone diagram has been divided into different sets of causes like family, social environment, school, etc. For instance, if we explore school, it can further have causes like bad instructors, no books, poor library, etc.

Lack of Reading Interest Fishbone

How to Design a Graphic Organizer with Edraw Max?

Now you know what a graphic organizer is, its types, and have even seen some examples, you are well equipped to make one. Here’s how you can come up with your own graphic organizer in less time.

Step 1: Identify a problem

Firstly, you need to know what topic you are going to discuss. For instance, if you are a teacher who wants to educate your students about the Roman Empire, then the Roman Empire history could be a topic.

Step 2: Pick a diagram

Once you have a topic, select the type of diagram you wish to make and try to collect the needed information. If the topic is Roman Empire History, then you can create a timeline (sequence diagram).

Step 3: Use Edraw Max

Lastly, install and launch EdrawMax on your computer to start working on your next graphic organizer. The tool has a wide range of professionally designed and readily available vectors as well as pre-made templates. You can simply select any template and copy the available vectors.

These vectors can be changed as per your preferences. You can add your own content, change the overall appearance of the diagram, and even export it in different formats.

There you go! After reading this extensive guide, you can easily teach anyone what is a graphic organizer and how to create one. If you want, you can download EdrawMax or visit its website to explore tons of graphic organizer examples from our resources. Since they are extremely diverse, you can use them on different occasions for learning or teaching purposes. Feel free to explore more about graphic organizers and try to create engaging illustrations on your own using Edraw Max for free.

Related Articles