Mind mapping, invented by Tony Buzan in the 1960s, is a convenient
graphical tool to help you think and learn by putting complex thoughts
or interconnected ideas into two dimensions. Mind maps utilise words,
images, numbers, logic, rhythm and spatial awareness in a uniquely
powerful package. Consequently, mind mapping can be used to take
lecture notes, plan an essay/dissertation/thesis, outline a presentation/seminar,
revise a topic being studied, make notes from text books, summarise
articles/chapters, organise one’s thoughts about any topic
(whether academic/emotional/personal), etc.
How to Mind Map
Mind mapping starts off with a central idea, from which other
sub-ideas are branched, and from these other sub-sub-ideas and so
on. The main features for mind mapping are as follows:
- Begin with the main idea in the centre of the paper as
a coloured image. An image/picture is worth a thousand words,
stimulating both creative thinking and memory. Placing the paper
in a landscape position is also recommended.
- Use images throughout the mind map as much as possible.
As above, the aim is to stimulate thought processes in all parts
of the brain and aid memory.
- Write only in BLOCK CAPITALS for each topic or sub-topic
in the mind map. For reading back, block capitals are more
legible, clear and distinct. The extra time taken to write each
word allows more time for ideas to be generated.
- Each word should be written on one line and each line is
linked to other lines. This ensures that the mind map has
a basic structure, like the branches in a tree. Sub-topics of
the main topic radiate outwards on lines. Lines may be straight
or curved (NB: curved lines make for more compact diagrams). Sub-sub-topics
radiate out from the sub-topics and so forth for as much division
- Use only one word per line, as much as possible. This
allows each word to have more connections (branches) and provides
more freedom and flexibility in note taking.
- Use colours in the mind map to enhance memory, stimulate
all parts of the brain and make the mind map more attractive.
- The mind should be allowed to be as free as possible. The
main thing is to recall everything that the mind thinks about
a particular topic; deciding where things should go or be included
slows down the process. In general, once started, the ideas will
be generated faster than can be written. Do not worry about the
logical order/organisation of the words as this will tend to sort
itself out; reorganisation can be done later as another mind map.
An Example of a Mind Map
More Thoughts on Mind Mapping
- Mind mapping tends to polarise people into two types: those
who become very enthusiastic users and those who seem to hate
it. It is probably reflective of how people think. The enthusiasts
are those who already think in a hierarchal and organised manner
and need a device like this to organise and put down their thoughts
on paper. For the non-enthusiasts, please give mind-mapping a
try before giving up!
- Mind mapping is not easy to do using a computer with a keyboard.
It is best done with a pencil or pen and paper (A3 size).
- Compared to linear note-taking (as done by most people during
lectures) with headings and subheadings written starting from
the left of a piece of note pad and indenting from there, mind
mapping clearly shows the main idea, the relative importance of
each idea (those nearer the centre are more important) and the
linkages between ideas. Consequently, recall and review is more
convenient and quicker, and new information can be easily incorporated
by adding in more branches.