How to Make a Mind Map
The summary below is based on Buzan’s structure (a ‘Mind Mapping, how to’ – details available in his many books) but we believe that whilst this structure is great for establishing well structured maps that can be used in many different ways, variations on these rules or ‘laws’ are often sensible and appropriate – as long as they are based on an understanding of why the laws exist and what they are trying to help the mind mapper to achieve.
1. Take a blank piece of paper, A4 or larger.
Blank paper allows 360º of freedom to express the full range of your cortical skills, whereas pre-drawn lines restrict the natural flow of your thoughts.
2. Use the paper in landscape orientation.
Words and images have more space in the direction we write, so they don’t bump into margins as quickly.
3. Start in the centre.
Thoughts start in the centre of our mental world. The Mind Map page reflects this!
4. Make a central image that represents the topic about which you are writing/thinking:
A picture is worth a thousand words. It opens up associations, focuses the thoughts, is
fun and results in better recall:
fun and results in better recall:
- Use at least three colours.
- Keep the height and width of the central image to approx. 2’’ or 5 cm (proportionately larger for bigger paper).
- Allow the image to create its own shape (do not use a frame).
- Colours stimulate the right cortical activity of imagination as well as capturing and holding attention.
- This size gives plenty of space for the rest of your Mind Map, while making it large enough to be the clear focus of the topic.
- The unique shape makes it more memorable and enjoyable. A frame makes the centre a monotony of shape and disconnects the branches.
5. The main themes around the central image are like the chapter headings of a book:
The main themes, connected to the central image on the main branches, allow their relative importance to be seen. These are the Basic Ordering Ideas (BOIs) and aggregate and focus the rest of the Mind Map:
- Printing (versus cursive) allows the brain to photograph the image thus giving easier reading and more immediate recall.
- Word length equals line length. An extra line disconnects thoughts, length accentuates the connection.
- Curved lines give visual rhythm and variety and so are easier to remember, more pleasant to draw and less boring to look at. Thicker central lines show relative importance.
- Connected to the image because the brain works by association not separated, disconnected lines.
6. Start to add a second level of thought. These words or images are linked to the main branch that triggered them. Remember:
- Connecting lines are thinner.
- Words are still printed but may be lower case.
- Connected lines create relationships and a structure. They also demonstrate the level of importance, as from a branch to a twig.
- The size and style of the letters provide additional data about the importance and meaning of the word/image.
7. Add a third or fourth level of data as thoughts come to you:
- Use images as much as you can, instead of, or in addition to the words.
- Allow your thoughts to come freely, meaning you ‘jump about’ the Mind Map as the links and associations occur to you.
8. Add a new dimension to your Mind Map.
Boxes add depth around the word or image.To make some important points stand out.
9. Sometimes enclose branches of a Mind Map with outlines in colour:
- Enclose the shape of the branch and hug the shape tightly.
- Use different colours and styles.
- These provide immediate visual linking. They can also encourage follow-up and remind you of action you need to take.
- They can also show connection between branches by using the same colour outline.
10. Make each Mind Map a little more:
- IMAGINATIVE and
- It will be easier to remember.
- It will be more attractive to you (and to others as well).
11. Have fun!Add a little humour, exaggeration or absurdity wherever you can
Your brain will delight in getting the maximum use and enjoyment from this process and will therefore learn faster, recall more effectively and think more clearly.