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. An example of a rough mind map is illustrated.
To draw a basic Mind Map, follow these steps:
1. Write the title of the subject you’re exploring in the centre of the page, and draw a circle around it. This is shown by the circle marked in figure 1, below.
(Our simple example shows someone brainstorming actions needed to deliver a successful presentation.)
2. 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. (See figure 2, below.)
3. As you “burrow” into the subject and uncover another level of information (further subheadings, or individual facts) belonging to the subheadings above, draw these as lines linked to the subheading lines. These are shown in figure 3.
4. Then, for individual facts or ideas, draw lines out from the appropriate heading line and label them. These are shown in Figure 4.
5. As you come across new information, link it in to the Mind Map appropriately.A complete Mind Map may have main topic lines radiating in all directions from the centre. 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.
Here are some suggestions to help you draw impactful Mind Maps:
- Use Single Words or Simple Phrases (many words in normal writing are padding, as they ensure that facts are conveyed in the correct context, and in a format that is pleasant to read. In Mind Maps, single strong words and short, meaningful phrases can convey the same meaning more potently. Excess words just clutter the Mind Map.
- Print Words (joined up or indistinct writing is more difficult to read).
- Use Colour to Separate Different Ideas (this will help you to separate ideas where necessary. It also helps you to visualise the Mind Map for recall. Colour can help to show the organisation of the subject.
- Use Symbols and Images (pictures can help you to remember information more effectively than words, so, where a symbol or picture means something to you, use it.
- Use Cross-Linkages (information in one part of a Mind Map may relate to another part. Here you can draw lines to show the cross-linkages. This helps you to see how one part of the subject affects another.
Drawing a Basic Mind Map
Mind Mapping is an extremely effective method of taking notes. Not only do Mind Maps show facts, they also show the overall structure of a subject and the relative importance of individual parts of it. They help you to associate ideas, think creatively, and make connections that you might not otherwise make.
Mind Maps are useful for summarising information, for consolidating large chunks of information, for making connections, and for creative problem solving.
See how we used this on a blended learning research for Kent County Council
If you do any form of research or note taking, try experimenting with Mind Maps. You’ll love using them!
Mind Map® and Mind Maps® are registered trademarks of The Buzan Organisation