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How to make a good mind map?

A mind map is widely used by people during study and work. It is an excellent way to structure ideas and visualize them in a diagram. But what exactly is a mind map? And how to make a mind map? In this article, we will give you a step-by-step plan on how to make a good mind map. We also give you a compelling mind map example.

What is a mind map?

A mind map is a visual overview with one central word, the subject, surrounded by all kinds of terms related to the subject. If you were to translate the word 'mind map' literally, it would mean 'map of the brain'. Making a mind map helps you show what a particular subject is about, which (sub)subjects are related to it, and what the relationships and connections are between them. You can use a mind map at different times: during a brainstorming session where several ideas come together, during research, when you need to come up with creative ideas, or as a study aid.

Making a mind map: step-by-step plan

Now that you know what a mind map is, it's time to get started yourself. By following the 6 steps below, you can easily make a mind map yourself.

  1. Start with the subject;
  2. Connect branches and sub-branches to the subject;
  3. Use one term per branch;
  4. Connect big branches with sub-branches;
  5. Use different colors for each branch and sub-branch;
  6. Finish your mind map.

Do you prefer a more detailed explanation to get started with making a mind map yourself? Please read on.

Start with the subject

Start by grabbing paper or an online tool to make your mind map. Then place the main topic in the middle. In the example mind map, we will use the topic 'Sleep'.

It’s preferable to make your mindmap on paper first since it generally makes you more conscious of what you are writing about. You can always digitalize your mind map later.

Connect branches to the subject

Connect branches to the subject. Give each branch its own color for an even better overview. You will use these branches to add terms that are related to your subject. From these sub-subjects, you can draw new branches to sub-sub-subjects. As you can see, you’re creating a tree. The main subject is the trunk of the tree, your sub-subjects form the branches, and your sub-sub-subjects are the smaller side branches.

Use one word per branch

Insert the connected terms at the end of the branches, preferably using only one word. After all, this keeps your mind map clear both on paper, digitally, and in your head. This process is all about making associations with the subject. For example, what associations would you make in connection to the subject ‘sleep’?

Connect large branches with sub-branches

Complement the branches with smaller branches. For example, when you think of the word 'dreams', what else comes to mind? Maybe ‘nightmares’ or ‘processing impressions’. These connected terms are placed at the end of the sub-branches. By doing this, you are going more into detail with every step. In other words, when making a mind map, you work from global to specific.

Use different colors for each branch and sub-branch

If you haven't yet used colors in your mind map, this is your next step. By adding colors you can easily indicate connections and know exactly which sub-branch belongs to which branch. Also, by using colors, you activate the other half of your brain, which makes you remember the material even better. You can also choose to highlight sections.

Finish your mind map

Before finishing your mind map, it is a good idea to put it aside for a little while. Give your brain some rest, before looking at your mind map again with fresh eyes. You might see new connections, or think of new terms that should be included in the mind map. If you have the time, sleep on it for a night. Then you are sure to look at your mind map with fresh eyes the next morning.

Did you know that a mind map is also a good start to a schematic summary? After all, a mind map will also make you recognize connections quickly and easily.

Mind map example

The steps above will help you shape your own mind map. But what does a mind map look like? We created an example mind map to give you a better understanding. You can see that we used colors to create a better overview.

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