How to Make a Mind Map
Sketch out a mind map to encourage creativity, come up with new ideas, and organize your thoughts. These guidelines will show you how to create a great-looking mind map for work, study, or personal development.
Ready to start mind mapping? Try Lucidchart today! It was designed specifically to create mind maps, concept maps, and other useful diagrams. Lucidchart lets you work from nearly any device or operating system.Try it now Sign up free
CHOOSE A CANVAS
Pick a medium in which to draw your mind map. Some people use pen and paper, or a marker and whiteboard, while others use mind mapping software that’s specifically designed for the task. Mind mapping software has its advantages, especially if you plan on sharing your mind map with others or editing it in the future. You can choose between downloaded software that runs on a single computer, or cloud-based software that is available from any Internet-enabled device.
For the purposes of this guide, we’ll proceed as though you’re using Lucidchart. You can get started with Lucidchart's free editor. When your mind map is done, it can be viewed online or exported to your desktop.
DECIDE ON A MAIN CONCEPT
Once you’ve picked a medium, determine a central idea or purpose for your mind map. Every mind map starts from the center of the page and radiates outward. Think of your central idea as the core topic of the diagram. It could be:
- The title of the lecture you’re attending
- The personal problem you’re trying to solve
- The project you need to plan out
If you’re not sure where to begin, ask yourself what the main purpose of the exercise is. Do you want to consolidate information? Come up with new ideas? Map out a strategy? Once you have a central idea and purpose, write it down in the center of a blank page. In Lucidchart, there’s only one mind map shape. Simply drag and drop it onto the canvas.
ADD SHAPES AND LINES
Move on to the first level. Levels are the tiers that naturally spread from the central idea. Think of the rings of a tree trunk that grow from the middle and widen as time goes on. That’s how your map should progress.
Of course, some of your levels will expand more than others, and that’s fine. A mind map doesn’t have to be a perfect circle. In Lucidchart, you navigate the page and create levels with keyboard shortcuts. Lines and shapes are automatically drawn when you hit Tab (for the next tier, also known as a child) and Enter (for a corresponding box on the same tier, also known as a sibling).
It’s a good idea to limit your first level to 10 nodes. This keeps your chart looking clean and uncluttered. If you have additional ideas, you may want to start a separate mind map. Use the first level to explore main ideas related to your core purpose. Don’t get bogged down in the details or worry about perfectly elucidating your idea; just type keywords or short phrases.
Start building out subsequent levels. These tiers should contain spin-off ideas with greater detail. You can use as many levels as you need, but if your nodes start to look unwieldy, you may want to regroup them under a new first-level node.
SEEK OUTSIDE OPINIONS
Now it’s time to review your map. If you meant to create a free-flowing document, you may want to skip this step. Those who desire an organized look should turn a critical eye to their map and decide whether they need to re-label nodes, restructure levels, or make other changes.
How to Style a Mind Map
Contrary to popular belief, it’s possible to create organized mind maps that still promote creative thinking. To create a polished mind map, see the following tips. For more detailed instructions on how to easily make mind maps in Lucidchart, visit our tutorial.
Feel free to expand your ideas, but when nodes start to look messy, consider regrouping them under a different level. If your levels expand beyond 4 tiers, you may want to switch to hierarchical notes or another linear documentation method.
Add vibrant colors to jog your memory and inspire new ideas. These hues can be utilized in color-coding your levels as a simple way to organize them. Be careful with the number of varying colors on a single map; you should stick to 6 or fewer.
More text means more rigidity; try using single words or short phrases.
Visuals can tell a story in a single glance and assist in idea generation, so don’t be afraid to use them. Different image types convey various moods, e.g., symbols indicate exactness, while doodles and sketches add a more flexible feeling.
Lucidchart makes it easy to create and style beautiful mind maps, right in your web browser. Try our mind mapping shape library to see for yourself.