A mind map is a diagram in which ideas, concepts, and images are linked together around a central concept, keyword, or idea. The sub-concepts may be organised into sub-groups or branches with more important concepts closer to the central core.
Mind map guidelines
Buzan (1995) has identified the foundation structures of a mind map, although they are open to individual interpretation:
- Start in the centre of the page with a keyword or phrase. It may also help if you can conceptualise the topic as an image.
- Then use lines to extend out from the centre in a radiating pattern. The lines closest to the core of the mind map can be thicker than those at the periphery.
- Select key words and phrases, and position each word in its own space, separate from others, on one of the extending lines. Each line is the same length as the key word or phrase.
- Each line branches off from the earlier line to form another sub-concept or sub-level of detail. Nevertheless, all extending lines at the periphery link back to the mind map core.
- Make effective use of colour, incorporating at least 3 colours throughout your mind map. The colours you select can develop into your own code of meaning. Here a certain colour is used to connect key words and phrases in a related topic and/or sub-topic area within the mind map.
- Use images, symbols, and codes, where relevant, throughout your mind map. These may contribute to your own mind mapping style.
- Demonstrate emphasis and associations with the use of colour and interconnecting lines. Alternatively, use your own techniques for emphasis and showing associations between ideas.
Example mind map
References and further reading
Buzan, T. (1995). The mind map book: Radiant thinking (Rev. ed.). London, England: BBC Books. [Massey Library link]
Student Academic Services. (2011). Notetaking systems. California Polytechnic State University. Retrieved from http://www.sas.calpoly.edu/asc/ssl/notetakingsystems.html