How To Do Mind Mapping

Below there is a mind map on the subject of writing

What follows is a discussion on mind mapping in general

Mind Map is a copyright concept of Tony Buzan and the Buzan Organisation

A good exercise is to take this text and turn it into a mind map
A better exercise is to combine both articles into one mind map


Thinking can constrain or expand solutions:

Analytical thinking reduces solutions:
This is where many starting points leads to one option and one page of notes
Creative thinking increases solutions:
This is where one (of many) starting points leads to many options and lots of notes
This is where the mind map works
(Of course later these options can be reduced down analytically for a strategy)

Secondly, humans are visual:

Humans interpret random shapes as having meaning
Diagrams are more suggestive than maths (for most people)
Pictures can be worth a thousand words
Linear presentations suggest time
They suggest order but not variety
But a MIND MAP incorporates the visual area of the brain

Visual mind maps:

Consist of a central keyword and image
A succession of outward keywords with supporting images
The keyword is general and there are few in number
They radiate out according to levels of logical order
Levels get more specific and numerous
The structure is an inverted tree, seen from an overhead view


Less visual:
the text version is more like words in a structure on the left and notes and details on the right.

the matrix version is a mass of criss-crossing connections where, in addition, keywords can be grouped to form further associations, and the notes link to different keywords

Mind mapping is for:

Planning - personal, projects
Problems solving (by increasing options)
Summarising (by economising language)
Overall structure (in one look)
Brainstorming (first stage of ideas)
Notes (related to a structure)
Computer menus (links)
Summarising a lecture and freeing its linearity
Reviewing a book and freeing its linerarity

Mind maps:

Improve memory (the brain is visual - thus use of images)
Economise words (keywords and limited space)
Organise into logical groups and order (by editing, moving)
Develops creative thinking (expansive and pictoral)
Improves lectures and thought processes (not limited to linearity)
Aids revision (by making reasoned connections)
Show something of the individual (all are personal)


A keyword opens up to other words
Clearly some words are more general than others
A keyword should be general in nature
A keyword can be supported by an appropriate image
Comments can be via ticks, crosses and various smileys
Down the branches of a mind map words should get more specific
Time may travel down branches, never between branches
It is like sets and subsets and eventual details
Add to, review and change mind maps from time to time
Look out and note down potential keywords when out and about

Early expansive method:

Minds maps facilitate brainstorming
In fact the first stage should be free and easy
Use colour straight away
Use colour straight away
This is how to get keywords as well as lower order words

Lecture notes may lead to several initial mind maps:
Speech is messy and linear at the same time - mind maps sort it out
Only later does a presentation suggest logical order - mind maps may do this
(this is because lectures are time delivered whereas only certain branch flows follow logically)

Books are linear but may join several areas in an artificial narrative:
Mind maps re-present the book (eg for revision, reviewing)
It needn't be along the line of chapters
Several mind maps may be made at first

Free flowing thought needs capturing
A new mind map branch holds the different thought
It's good for pairs and groups to start a shared mind map together

Later editing method:

Then attach some branches to other keywords
Make some main branches sub-branches of main branches
Change the logical order
Extend branches
pairs and groups can generate much discussion in the editing process
Perhaps one mind map should become two or more

For example:

Reading books:
Write down keywords from chapters (avoid defacing the book!)
Add underneath points being made
Elsewhere realise new keywords
Add points underneath
Start the mind map
Add appropriate images
Edit the mind map

In Literary Machine keep making new notes and new keywords and linking them together
Create associations of keywords
Deleting and reintroducing keywords/ concepts allows editing of connections

Visual mind map presentations:

Hayfork model:
Used in eMindMaps
Probably the best method
Writing takes place along branches
The branches are curved or angular
Each lower level is after a bend
The writing and its line section is horizontal
The writing determines the length of the horizontal line

Fishbone model:
The branches are angled outwards but continue without corners or bends
Is it clear where one section starts and another stops

Clustering model:
The branches curve out to writing in bubbles
Words are severely limited


Start in the middle
Keep all text the same reader's way up (inc. fishbone, bubbles)
Limit the number of lines
Colours are visual and differentiate
Associated pictures support words
Associated symbols support words

Supporting uses:

Diary (support):
Support dates and activities with mind mapping
Show the different areas of a meeting in separate branches and add detail
Show the different areas of the day in separate branches and add detail

Minutes (support):
Minutes can be carried out visually or according to connections
The mind map starts with paper
It can continue on computer
Lower branches raise the issues of each area (keyword)

Budgets (support):
Areas of expenditure are visually separated out
Each area can lead to lower branches of what is involved
Money, future expectations, contents all can be elucidated.


Svantesson, Ingemar (1989), Mind Mapping and Memory: powerful techniques to help you make better use of your brain, London: Kogan Page.

Buzan, T., Keene, R. (1994), Buzan's Book of Genius: and how to unleash your own, London: Stanley Paul and Company, 58-60.

ONLY on own books. I never do it. Ruins their value and appreciation. Not easy to find notes in terms of their indexing. Makes a fresh read diificult because the eye jumps to highlighted areas. Speeds reading but may distort original meaning. tendency anyway to underline too much. Might underline less but not pretty. Only good for individual words. Allows the text to be read without the eye jumping to underlines. The margin notes are cramped. Can vary between words, sentences and blocks. Highlighter often "goes off" over time and so loses its bright impact. Perhaps multiple cards need creating for different filing. Artificial cut off necessary between thought flows. Cards limit the quantity of notes. Good for speaking. This is note taking in bite size chunks. Can be difficult to get the essentials down first time. Consider filing for best effect. Allows complex relationships between data, but more formal than say Literary Machine. Instant note taking. lecture notes are often difficult to decipher afterwards and should be revised as soon as possible using memory. Usually after the notes are taken they are edited. First with some ideas collected steamroller out the essay from the mind. Only later revise and beef it up with evidence and detail. It's good exam revision. Choose the right question by comparing what they want. What does the question really ask for? Is there plenty to write? Where is the evidence and how do it and ideas interweave? Structure depends on the title and subject conventions. Style follows on. Always write the simplest sentences and use the simplest words. The subjects are usually complicated enough. Essays are read and marked. Use the constructive comment towards doing the next one better. Strip an essay for revisable material, or make a mind map from it and the logical connections. Build on the structure and style for the longer dissertation and thesis. Includes theses. This has got to be an interest. The research and writing needs to be sustained for a long period. The topic should not be too broad. It should be limited in research requirements. The title should be snappy and show that the topic area is restricted. Should be mainly qualititative or mainly quantitative. Rarely does a topic are combine the two evenly. Two or more research methods only. Clear research method/s and display of data is best. This depends on the research, the length (management) and the conventions of the subject. Always write the simplest sentences and use the simplest words. The subjects are usually complicated enough. The dissertation/ thesis should have constructive criticism. Might this be of use in a career or as a springboard to more detailed writing? Large emphasis on note taking and less visual but the same facility as visual mind mapping Connect notes logically to higher keywords in inverted tree. Notes can be long and these are more obvious than the partially concealable logical structure. Solutions are related by topic, eg keep help files for computer in one treepad inverted tree file connected by hardware/ software, then uses of software etc. Structure of relationships can be partially concealed and partially or wholly revealed. Has main and subsequent branches as vertical lines. Keeps lecture and book notes in logical relationships. EG books on sociology down one branch, economics down another, then types of sociology and types of economics. Can be lectures. The lecture notes on the right can be broken up and placed into a structure of keywords on the left. Either chapters can be the structure or some other new structure on the left to contain summaries of the books contents on the right. Visual Mind map, as after Tony Buzan and Ingemar Svantesson. Visual Mind map, as after Tony Buzan and Ingemar Svantesson. Draw out a Mind map on large paper sheet to show the logical order of things. Drawing shows how one area of solution relates to another area of problem solving. However, it is difficult to edit without starting again. The Mind map is best at showing the whole set of relationships in one viewing. Detailed notes upset the drawing. When brainstorming is free flowing, just the keywords are needed, the visual mind map is the best tool. Draw on paper or on computer. Good for memory and revision where keywords jog the memory of what has been learnt. Paper if large difficult to store but can be put on the wall! Freeing it from linearity. Some delay in getting the time line lecture into a flat mind map. Considering the keywords and associated short notes, to build a pattern. Visual Mind map, as after Tony Buzan and Ingemar Svantesson. Example is eMindmaps Create a Mind map to show the logical order of things. Move branches around as part of the planning process. Show how one area of solution relates to another area of problem solving. Change if required. The Mind map is best at showing the whole set of relationships in one viewing (although the zoom facility is required and show all branches). It is limited in containing notes. When brainstorming is free flowing, just the keywords are needed, but probably better on paper. The computer allows a second stage of refinement. Computer good for memory and revision where keywords jog the memory of what has been learnt and limited notes can be used. Freeing it from linearity. Editing by computer allows branches to shift around Can be done with book in hand or after initial paper notes. Frees the book of its order. Complex notes relational system up the hierarchy via concepts (grouped keywords) to keywords, ie branches go out from the bottom as well as out from the top. Each item of notes shows how it relates to concepts and keywords, also projects to external files. Dragging and dropping keywodrs and concepts also reveals relationships. Each solution can relate to various problems in concepts and keywords, as well as several solutions available to keyword problems. Best used where relationships between data (note items) and other elements are highly complex. Travel up to different concepts and keywords and down to various other data items. Very sueful for qualitiative research, relationships, ideas that need linking in to other ideas. Build up connections in many directions using the notes of many lectures, broken down into several parts Combine sections of books. Notes can be related to one another across different books and several subject associations. Versions Light, standard and pro. To edit outline files to see in Light version, use another text file application and follow the outline layout method, and read in Note Tab. If the filename is the main subject (top level) then the outline headers are the next branch level followed by notes at the final level Can be editing areas for notes to go into textual mind map. Literary Machine may use this as automatic editor (if replaces Notepad).


Buzan, T., Buzan, B. (2000), The Mind Map Book, Millennium edition, London: BBC Worldwide

Mind Maps are a copyright concept of Tony Buzan and the Buzan Organisation