Ahtract -Diagrams are widely used in several areas of computer wience, and their effectiveness is thoroughly recognized. One of the main qualities requested for them is readability; this is especially, but not exclusively, true in the area of information systems, where diagrams are used to model data and functions of the application. Up to now, diagrams have been produced manually or with the aid of a graphic editor; in both caws placement of symbols and routing of connections are under responsibility of the designer. The goal of the work is to investigate how readability of diagrams can be achieved by means of automatic tools. Existing results in the literature are compared, and a comprehensive algorithmic approach to the problem is proposed. The algorithm presented draws graphs on a grid and is suitable for both undirected graphs and mixed graphs that contain as subgraphs hierarchic structures. Finally, several applications of a graphic tool that embodies the aforementioned facility are shown.