Tools: Mind Mapping

A mind map is a diagram used to visually outline information. A mind map is often created around a single word or text, placed in the center, to which associated ideas, words and concepts are added. Major categories radiate from a central node, and lesser categories are sub-branches of larger branches. Categories can represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items related to a central key word or idea.

Mind maps can be drawn by hand, either as “rough notes” during a lecture or meeting, for example, or as higher quality pictures when more time is available.

Mind Maps are useful for:
  • Brainstorming – individually, and as a group.
  • Summarizing information, and note taking.
  • Consolidating information from different research sources.
  • Thinking through complex problems.
  • Presenting information in a format that shows the overall structure of your subject.
  • Studying and memorizing information.
Use the following guidelines for creating mind maps:

Mind MapA complete Mind Map may have main topic lines radiating in all directions from the center. Sub-topics and facts will branch off these, like branches and twigs from the trunk of a tree. You don’t need to worry about the structure you produce, as this will evolve of its own accord.

  • Write the title of the subject you’re exploring in the center of the page, and draw a circle around it.
  • As you come across major subdivisions or subheadings of the topic (or important facts that relate to the subject) draw lines out from this circle. Label these lines with these subdivisions or subheadings.
  • As you “burrow” into the subject and uncover another level of information (further subheadings, or individual facts) belonging to the subheadings, draw these as lines linked to the subheading lines.
  • Use images, symbols, codes, and dimensions throughout your mind map.
  • Select key words and print using upper or lower case letters.
  • Each word/image is best alone and sitting on its own line.
  • The lines should be connected, starting from the central image. The central lines are thicker, organic and thinner as they radiate out from the center.
  • Make the lines the same length as the word/image they support.
  • Use multiple colors throughout the mind map, for visual stimulation and also to encode or group.
  • Develop your own personal style of mind mapping.
  • Use emphasis and show associations in your mind map.
  • Keep the mind map clear by using radial hierarchy, numerical order or outlines to embrace your branches.