Basic Circuit Diagram: The Ultimate Guide

About Basic Circuit Diagram, schematic diagrams are one of the basic requirements of electronic design and manufacturing. 

Generally, schematic diagrams help in representing projects on paper.

 Therefore, doing circuit analysis, managing documentation, and supplying information to layout editors becomes easy. 

Consequently, it becomes necessary for every hobbyist technician or electronic engineer to have some basic skills in reading and creating schematic diagrams.  

Here, we provide all the information you need to understand a basic circuit diagram schematic. 

Table of Contents

What is a circuit diagram?

This visual represents electrical circuits using standard industrial symbols or basic component images. We have two main circuit diagram types, including pictorial and schematic styles

First, a schematic style uses standard industrial symbols to represent an electrical circuit. However, a pictorial style uses basic images to represent electrical circuits.

Therefore, the schematic type is meant for professional electricians, while the pictorial style can favor a less technical audience. 

Schematic Diagram Overview

A schematic diagram

(A schematic diagram)

As mentioned above, schematic diagrams represent electrical circuits using standard industrial symbols. Surprisingly, electronic circuits come with many components in different colors, packages, structures, and sizes. 

Additionally, component distribution depends on your layout design which may change depending on the project type. Therefore, you’ll find it challenging to understand and conceptualize circuit functionality without schematic diagrams. 

Practically, a voltage source might be a thermocouple or battery, but in schematic diagrams, we represent it with a DC voltage symbol. Therefore, your goal should be to represent all components and connections reliably. 

Schematic Circuit Diagram Symbols

Circuit diagram symbols

(Circuit diagram symbols)

Schematic circuit diagram symbols form the fundamental blocks of every design. Generally, there is a symbol to represent each circuit component. Surprisingly, the symbol characterizes the electrical functionality of the components.

Usually, we represent capacitors, diodes, inductors, and resistors using two-pin devices. However, you’ll find transistor and amplifier symbols to be more complex. 

Additionally, you’ll come across symbols of components that vary slightly from simple ones. For example, variable passive components like variable capacitors and resistors have a diagonal arrow overlap to show variability. 

Furthermore, we use node labels to represent power supply and interconnections. Generally, we present these labels with a value and name. For example, VCC = 5V shows that the common collector value is 5V. 

Sub Circuit and Component Design

You can use subcircuits to enhance the readability and organization of your design.

Notably, sophisticated schematics, having complex interconnections and large component counts, might have identical circuit blocks repeated in the design. Therefore, it’s important to represent such circuits with a single component to clean the schematic. 

Surprisingly, most tools that offer layout and simulation functionality will allow you to form sub-circuits. While using this feature, you’ll have to develop new component symbols for your sub-circuit. 

Schematic vs. Layout

Some designers often mistake schematic designs for layout designs. However, these two are different and represent different things.

As mentioned, schematics use industrial standards symbols to describe an electrical circuit and specify only the components, their interconnections, and distribution.

However, the layout defines the physical component’s physical interconnections and specifies design rules like spacing, layers, Via size, packages, and width. 

Generally, you implement schematic conceptualization as the first stage and layout design as the last. 

How to Create a Circuit Diagram

An engineer doing a design

(An engineer doing a design)

Surprisingly, there are different approaches to creating a circuit diagram. First, do it manually or use diagramming software like SmartDraw. However, the second option is the most efficient approach. Generally, diagramming software offers the following advantages:

  • The procedure is fast and simple
  • You’ll find it easier to edit
  • The software offers access to many symbols
  • You can share the designs electronically
  • Object placement is precise

Follow the below steps to create a circuit diagram in software:

  1. Firstly, find, identify, and collect all the symbols that are relevant to your diagram
  2. Secondly, Draw circuits defined by lines
  3. Next, drag the symbols and drop them on the circuit. Ensure you connect them well
  4. Finally, if some lines need to cross, employ hops

It’s important to remember that each software is unique, and the creation steps might vary. However, the above steps generalize the schematic creation process using SmartDraw as a case study. 

How To Read A Circuit Diagram

To read and analyze a circuit diagram successfully, go through the following steps:

Assess The Basic Circuit Components

  • Firstly, scan your schematic to identify circuits filled with symbols. This power source is usually labeled with a circle with plus and minus signs for DC power. For AC power, you’ll note a squiggly line at the center. 
  • Secondly, check the schematic to identify horizontal and vertical lines. These lines represent conductors that transmit power through the circuit. 
  • Thirdly, check out for connected rectangles that represent electrical loads. Next, search for labels like “V-Out,” which points out the energy the circuit consumes. 
  • Also, identify resistors that can be rectangular or marked by zig-zag lines. 
  • Furthermore, identify capacitors with a stack of upright and inverted T shapes. 
  • Next, identify inductors that bear a curly or curved line. Notably, inductors help with charge storage. 
  • Finally, identify switches that involve connected lines and circles. 

Evaluate Advanced Circuit Components

  • To begin with, identify diodes that are represented by a triangle and a straight line. 
  • Next, identify transistors by noting two angled lines linked to a vertical line. 
  • You can now identify logic gates by checking for curved triangles or rectangles within lines. 
  • You’ll note a crystal by identifying rectangles flanked by sideways “T”s.
  • Additionally, for integrated circuits, rectangles linked to eight small lines, check out. 
  • Furthermore, you can identify operational amplifiers by checking out right-facing triangles.
  • Now you can identify the battery by looking for a stack of short and long lines. 
  • Lastly, a fuse is represented by circles connected with squiggly lines. Surprisingly, a fuse will safeguard a circuit from burning. 

Reading Abbreviations

  • Start by labeling common electrical components with the first letters. This applies to capacitors, diodes, switches, and resistors. Also, it applies to hardware, transformer, and fuse. Q, Y, U, and L represent transistors, crystals, oscillators, and ICs. 
  • If there are multiple electrical components, use numbers to represent them. For example, three resistors are R1, R2, and R3. 
  • We usually substitute micro and ohms with their Greek letters mu and omega. 

Analyze Different Circuit Connections

  • Check for components linked by vertical or straight lines. A straight line through two separate components means they’re connected. 
  • Multiple connected lines represent junctions. Generally, junctions link various components to work together. 
  • Identify connected junctions having dots in the middle. They’re connected if you see overlapping lines marked with a filled dot. The absence of dots means the line overlaps but doesn’t connect. 

Schematic Diagram Design Software

An engineer using design software

(An engineer using design software)

Designing a reliable schematic diagram requires reliable design software. Surprisingly, there is much top-notch software for you to use. Check them out below:

Choose a design software you’re familiar with to get the best performance. We checked all the above software and guarantee they’re easy to use. 


What is the other name for schematic diagrams?

Some refer to schematic diagrams as circuits, electric schematics, elementary, or electrical diagrams. 

What is the purpose of a schematic diagram?

A schematic diagram represents an electrical circuit using standard industrial symbols. Therefore, you can use them for electrical paths, electric sources, and circuit components. 

What are the types of Circuit diagrams?

You’ll come across two main circuit diagrams: pictorial and schematic. However, you might also come across wiring diagrams. 


If you’re an electronic designer, you probably need to understand how to design schematic diagrams. Generally, schematic diagrams allow you to represent electrical circuits using standard industrial symbols.

Therefore, you can find it easier to implement circuit analysis, manage documentation, and supply information to layout editors. Use any software programs recommended above for the best schematic diagram designs.