Spreadsheet rows and columns are great at storing and organizing large amounts of data. What they’re not good at is telling the data’s story. Sometimes the information locked in a spreadsheet needs to be presented in a new or different way in order to gain meaning or see a new perspective.
This is where mind maps can be extremely helpful. Mind maps visually organize data and information into easy-to-understand diagrams. They make it simple to illustrate the relationship between different pieces of information in relation to the whole data set and see the story hidden within the rows and columns.
Learn how to create a mind map in Excel using one of these two options:
While creating a mind map is possible with each option, we recommend using Lucidchart’s mind map maker because it makes creating and sharing professional-looking mind maps quick and easy.
Option #1: Use Lucidchart to add mind maps in Excel
With Lucidchart’s integration with Microsoft Office, adding the diagrams you’ve created in Lucidchart to your Excel workbook is seamless. Using our Microsoft add-in, you can choose and customize one of the mind map templates that Lucidchart offers, and then insert the mind map into your spreadsheet.
Before you decide to manually diagram a mind map in Excel, consider trying the Lucidchart add-in for Excel to organize your ideas and save time. For more detailed instructions on the process of creating a mind map, see our step-by-step guide.
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How to install the Lucidchart add-in for Excel
To get started, you’ll need to download the Lucidchart add-in for Excel. To do so, follow these simple steps:
- Open an Excel spreadsheet.
- Go to Insert > Add-in > Get add-in.
- Use the search bar to find and select “Lucidchart Diagrams for Excel.”
- Click “Add.”
- Accept the terms and conditions.
- Log in with your Lucidchart credentials to access your documents.
How to insert an existing mind map into Excel with the add-in
Using the add-in, you can insert your completed mind map into Excel, as a high-resolution image, while never leaving the program.
- In your Excel workbook, find the Lucidchart add-in in the upper-right corner.
- Click ”Insert Diagram.”
- Select your mind map from the list.
- A preview will appear. If it is the correct document, click “Insert.”
- To edit your mind map, select “Edit.” Make the necessary changes in the pop-up window and then click “Insert” back in Excel to update your mind map.
How to create a new mind map in Excel with the add-in
Need to make a mind map from scratch? With the Microsoft add-in, it's easy to access the Lucidchart editor while in Excel to create and edit a new mind map.
- In your Excel workbook, select “Insert Diagram” to open the Lucidchart panel.
- Click “Create New Diagram” at the top of the panel to open the Lucidchart editor in a pop-up window.
- Choose either a blank document or template to start.
- Drag and drop shapes and edit the text to build your mind map within the Lucidchart editor.
- Once you’re finished with your mind map, save the diagram and click back into your Excel spreadsheet.
- Select your new mind map from the sidebar to preview and then click “Insert.”
For additional help installing and using the Lucidchart add-in, visit our Help Center or watch the brief video tutorial below.
Option #2: Create a mind map in Excel using either the shape library or SmartArt
Alternatively, you can make a mind map from scratch in Excel either with the shape library or SmartArt. Keep in mind that the process will be more time-consuming and less intuitive than building out your mind map within Lucidchart, and you won’t have the opportunity to share and gather ideas from others. But it is more time-consuming than a Lucidchart template.
How to make a mind map using the shape library in Excel
- In your Excel workbook, go to Insert > Illustrations > Shapes. A drop-down menu will appear.
- Use the shape menu to add shapes and lines to make your mind map.
- Double-click the shape to add or edit text.
- Save your spreadsheet.
How to make a mind map using SmartArt in Excel
SmartArt graphics make it simple to build mind maps in Excel, but they are rigid templates that are difficult to modify. Follow these steps below to use SmartArt:
- In your Excel workbook, go to Insert > Illustrations > Shapes. A pop-up window will open.
- Go to “Relationship” diagrams, select the one that fits your needs, and click “OK.”
- Double-click “Text” to modify the text or use the text pane.
- Select the graphic, and click “Add Shape” to make the mind map bigger.
- Save your completed mind map in the spreadsheet.
Why you should choose Lucidchart to create diagrams in Excel
Although it is possible to manually make a mind map in Excel, both approaches are time-consuming and unwieldy. Unlike with Lucidchart, you won’t be able to quickly update and refresh any changes you make, but instead, you will need to take extra time to draw, customize, and connect your shapes.
See why Lucidchart is the best choice for creating your mind map in Excel:
Customizable templates: While Excel offers SmartArt options for simple diagrams, the templates lack customizability and advanced features. In Lucidchart, you can select and customize a template. It is easy to modify diagrams by dragging and dropping shapes that remain aligned using our intuitive auto-prompts and guides.
Data linking: Data is better understood when represented visually, but although Excel is used to store and organize large amounts of data, neither SmartArt nor the shape library can link with spreadsheet data. For Lucidchart users on Enterprise accounts, you can integrate with data to visualize complex information in an easy-to-understand diagram.
Cloud-based collaboration: Mind maps made in Excel are only available in the specific spreadsheet. Mind maps and other diagrams created in Lucidchart are standalone documents that can be shared on multiple platforms. Because Lucidchart is cloud-based, any time changes are made, the document will update for everyone.
Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge to make a mind map in Lucidchart, give it a try and start diagramming.
Find out how our mind mapping software can help visualize the data’s story.