The layout of a business process model influences how easily it can be understood. Existing layout features in process modeling tools often rely on graph representations, but do not take the specific properties of business process models into account. In this paper, we propose an algorithm that is based on a set of constraints which are specifically identified toward establishing a readable layout of a process model. Our algorithm exploits the structure of the process model and allows the computation of the final layout in linear time. We explain the algorithm, show its detailed run-time complexity, compare it to existing algorithms, and demonstrate in an empirical evaluation the acceptance of the layout generated by the algorithm. The data suggests that the proposed algorithm is well perceived by moderately experienced process modelers, both in terms of its usefulness as well as its ease of use. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.