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Mind Map – A Short Introduction

What is mind mapping?

Mind mapping is a visual brainstorming technique that helps to organize information, ideas, and concepts in a hierarchical and interconnected way. It is a powerful tool that allows you to generate, organize, and connect ideas, making it easier to understand, remember, and communicate complex information. 

The English term “mind map” was introduced by Tony Buzan. The terms “thought map or association diagram” are analogous. A mind map helps to freely develop your own thoughts and ideas for a topic. The representation is based on a tree.

The process of creating a mind map typically involves starting with a central idea or topic, and then branching out into related ideas, subtopics, and details. Each branch represents a different aspect or component of the central idea, and is connected to other branches through lines and keywords. 

The key features of a mind map include: 

  • A central idea or topic, represented by a prominent image or word. 
  • Main branches that radiate outwards from the central idea, representing the main subtopics or themes. 
  • Secondary branches that connect to the main branches, representing related ideas, details, or examples. 
  • Keywords or short phrases that summarize each idea or concept, and help to trigger memory and understanding. 

Mind mapping can be done manually, using paper and pen, or using digital tools such as software or online platforms. The benefits of mind mapping include increased creativity, enhanced memory retention, improved organization and clarity of thought, and improved communication of complex ideas. 

Overall, mind mapping is an effective technique for organizing and visualizing complex information, and can be used in a wide range of contexts, from brainstorming and project planning, to note-taking and studying. 

Sample mind map
Sample mind map

The benefits

One of the advantages is that it moves away from being presented as a simple list or line-up in normal text. The map can spread in all directions. In addition, the position of the branches and terms can support learning by stimulating visual thinking and remembering. Therefore, additional colors, symbols, links or groupings of similar themes can easily be incorporated into the map. There are only a few limits to your creativity. Of course, it is important that the target group for which a mind map is created understands it. In many work situations, idea maps can also be created in a team. You usually only have to communicate about a few basic properties.

Mind mapping has become very popular in recent years and has established itself as a working method in many offices and meetings. In addition to the classic way with paper and pens, there have been many programs and web applications for the electronic creation and management of mind maps for several years. Maps offer great advantages for project management, learning, taking notes and structuring content.

Which tools can help to create mind maps? 

There are many tools available that can help you to create the maps. Here are some popular options: 

  1. Pen and paper – The most basic and traditional way to create mind maps is to use a pen and paper. This method can be effective for those who prefer a hands-on approach or want to quickly sketch out ideas. 
  2. Mind mapping software – There are several software programs specifically designed for creating mind maps, such as MindManager, XMind, and MindNode. These programs offer a range of features, including the ability to easily add and organize ideas, create different types of branches and relationships, and export and share your mind maps. 
  3. Online mind mapping tools – There are also several online tools available, such as MindMeister and Coggle, which allow you to create mind maps in your web browser. These tools often offer collaborative features, allowing multiple users to work on a single mind map in real-time. 
  4. Mobile apps – There are many mobile apps available for both iOS and Android devices that allow you to create mind maps on-the-go, such as SimpleMind and Mindomo. 

Regardless of the tool you choose, it’s important to remember that the effectiveness of a mind map is not necessarily tied to the complexity or sophistication of the tool. The key is to create a clear and organized visual representation of your ideas and information, whether that’s on paper or using a digital tool. 

What are the pros and cons of Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a powerful and versatile technique that can offer many benefits, but it may not be ideal for every situation or individual. Here are some of the pros and cons of mind mapping: 


  • Boosts creativity: The technic encourages free-flowing, non-linear thinking, which can help to generate new and innovative ideas. 
  • Enhances memory retention: The visual and spatial organization of a mind map can help to improve memory retention and recall. 
  • Improves organization: Mind mapping allows you to organize complex information in a clear and organized way, making it easier to understand and communicate. 
  • Increases productivity: By breaking down complex ideas into smaller, more manageable pieces, mind mapping can help to increase focus and productivity. 
  • Collaborative potential: Mind maps can be used in group settings to foster collaboration and generate shared understanding. 


  • May not suit everyone: The method may not be the ideal approach for everyone, particularly those who prefer more structured, linear thinking. 
  • Requires some level of skill: Creating an effective mind map requires some level of skill and practice, particularly when it comes to organizing and connecting ideas in a meaningful way. 
  • Can be time-consuming: Depending on the complexity of the topic and the level of detail required, creating a mind map can be time-consuming. 
  • Limited in scope: Maps may not be the best approach for large or complex projects that require detailed planning or analysis. 
  • Limitations of technology: Some digital mind mapping tools may have limitations in terms of functionality, ease of use, or compatibility with other programs or platforms.

How to I start with mind mapping?

If you’re new to mind mapping, here are some steps you can follow to get started: 

  • Choose a topic: Select a topic or problem that you want to explore or organize. This could be anything from brainstorming ideas for a project to outlining a presentation or organizing your thoughts about a particular topic. 
  • Gather materials: Decide on the tools you will use to create your mind map. This could be a pen and paper or a digital tool such as a mapping software or an online tool. 
  • Start with a central idea: Write your central idea in the center of your page or screen, and use a circle or other shape to enclose it. This could be a word, phrase, or image that represents the main topic of your mind map. 
  • Branch out: Start adding branches to your central idea to represent subtopics or related ideas. Use short phrases or keywords to label each branch. Connect the branches to the central idea with lines. 
  • Add more detail: Continue to add branches and subtopics to your mind map, using colors, images, and other visual cues to make it more engaging and memorable. 
  • Review and refine: Once you’ve completed your mind map, take a step back and review it. Are there any gaps or areas that need more detail? Are there any ideas that could be combined or reorganized? Refine your mind map as needed to ensure that it effectively captures and organizes your ideas. 

Remember, there is no one “right” way to create a mind map, and the process may vary depending on the topic, the tools you use, and your personal preferences. Experiment with different approaches and techniques until you find what works best for you. 

Tip for effective use

  • Redesign an existing mind map. The new version is usually better structured and clearer. This apparent additional effort is worthwhile for learning content in particular.
  • Develop your own color code for your maps. For example the green and red color for positive and negative aspects of a topic. Blue can stand for facts and yellow for further investigation of a topic.
  • Try to find your own icon and sketch note symbols. These elements will give your maps a personal touch.

Which other methods are related to mind mapping?

There are several methods and techniques that are related to mind mapping. Here are a few examples: 

  • Concept mapping: Similar to mind mapping, concept mapping is a visual technique for organizing and structuring ideas. However, concept maps tend to be more formal and structured, and focus on relationships between concepts and ideas. 
  • Brainstorming: Brainstorming is a group creativity technique that involves generating a large number of ideas in a short period of time. It can be used in conjunction with mind mapping to generate a broad range of ideas, which can then be organized and refined using a mind map. 
  • Outlining: Outlining is a linear method for organizing ideas that involves creating a hierarchical structure of main topics, subtopics, and supporting details. While not as visual as mind mapping, outlining can be a useful approach for organizing information in a logical and structured way. 
  • Flowcharts: Flowcharts are a type of diagram that uses symbols and arrows to represent the steps in a process or system. While not as flexible as mind mapping, flowcharts can be a useful approach for visualizing the steps in a process or system. 
  • SWOT analysis: SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool that involves identifying an organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. While not as visual as mind mapping, SWOT analysis can be a useful approach for organizing and analyzing information in a structured way. 

Overall, there are many methods and techniques that can be used in conjunction with the technic, depending on the situation and the goals of the project or task at hand. 

Related articles

Mind Maps – Frequently asked Question (FAQ)

Links for further reading web catalog

Description on Wikipedia