- “A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to generate, visualize, structure and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, decision making, and writing.” (Wikipedia, retrieved 13:28, 18 August 2007 (MEST)
According to Mindmapping.com, retrieved 09:09, 15 January 2010 (UTC), a typical mind map has the the following characteristics:
- The main idea, subject or focus is crystallized in a central image.
- The main themes radiate from the central image as 'branches'.
- The branches comprise a key image or key word drawn or printed on its associated line.
- Topics of lesser importance are represented as 'twigs' of the relevant branch.
- The branches form a connected nodal structure.
Mind maps were made popular by Tony Buzan, who was the first to publish extensive guidelines. There exist other simple hierarchical concept maps, however the term "mind map" is used loosely by many people for naming any kind of more hierarchical diagram that connects sub-elements to elements. WikIT has a discussion about the various types of mind map as well as describing what to consider when choosing between mind maps and concept maps.
2 Design guidelines
According to Wikipedia (, retrieved 13:28, 18 August 2007 (MEST)), Buzan (1991) suggests the following desing guidelines for structuring a Mind Map:
Danny Stevens made this mind map of the mind map guidelines:
3 Uses and usefulness
According to Peter Russel, mind maps can be used for:
- Note taking
- Improving recall, since it connects somewhat ideas
- Creativity, since it favors non-linear thinking and each node could be expanded as a new mind map
- Problem solving, because one can quickly produce all the issues in order to get a hierarchical overview and also how issues relate to each other (although the later statement could be challenged)
- Planning (including task analysis), since one can nail down all relevant information in one place.
Some claims made by the map mind community are very controversail, in particular the ones that relate cognition. As far as we know, serious studies only show that mind mapping vs. "no method" can provide some little gains, e.g. Farrand (2002). Use of mind maps as cognitive tool to support certain tasks on the other hand seems to be well accepted, e.g. to brainstorm, to decompose a concept or problem situation or to plan certain activities like (writing, smaller projects).
3.1 In education
(needs to be written)
Mind maps are popular in class-room teaching at all levels. Some popular use cases are:
- note taking
- brain storming (to detect dimensions of a problem/concept)
- planning (for little papers, class projects, etc.)
There are loads of mind mapping and concept mapping software and I don't have time to sort them out. Rather check out Wikipedia's good list of mind mapping software or mindmapping.org. See also the concept map article, since many mind map systems also allow to create concept maps (e.g. labeled arcs)
- Commercial including some that have a basic free version.
- MindManger from MindJet (between $80 and $300)
- MindView 3 and 3 Business
- PersonalBrain (multi platform, limited free edition, includes a presentation mode)
- Edraw Mindmap (Basic version is free).
- Free (open source or not) software
- FreeMind, multiplaform (Java based). Good XHTML export. There also is an embedding extension for MediaWikis (we should try this sometimes) plus a browser application (in flash).
- FreePlane, a fork of FreeMind with excellent extra features.
- SciPlore MindMapping is another FreeMind fork (and compatible). It “is the first mind mapping tool focusing on researchers’ needs by integrating mind mapping with reference and pdf management.” (retrieved 1/2010).
- VYM (View Your Mind). Free (Linux, MacOS) as of 1/2010.
- Commercial iPad Apps
- iThoughtsHD ($10) is a fully featured mindmapping software (good price/performance ratio). Can import/export from most popular applications including freeware like Freemind and Freeplane.
- Free iPad/iPhone
- Mindjet (free) is an iPad/iPhone version of the popular "MindManager" application and online service. Can synchronize with the online app.
- Free Android
- ThinkingSpace. Can read Freemind maps. Commercial version has extra features
- Mind Map Memo. Includes advertisements. There is also a cheap commercial version.
4.3 Web based
- (Somewhat or totally) free Web-based applications
You might find more in our incomplete list of web 2.0 applications. These service usually allow you draw a limited amount of mind maps for free. Best to try these, before you install something on your computer.
- Tex2Mindmap (automatic generation from text input)
- Wise Mapping
- DropMind (exists both as free web application and desktop application)
- Commercial web applications
- Mind map Web sites and Software indexes
(check these for more links than we have here)
- Mind-mapping.org Software for mindmapping and information organisation.
- 50 Useful Mind-Mapping Tools for College Students Jul/2009.
- List of mind mapping software (Wikipedia)
- 11 Free Mind Mapping Applications & Web Services, Lifehack, Sept. 2008.
- Mind Map Software by Peter Russel (author of the "The Brain book").
- Mind Map inspiration by Paul Foreman offer example Mind Maps for inspiration and motivation, plus mindmapping tips, drawing tips, techniques for enhancing your creativity and improving idea generation.
- 15 Great Mindmapping Tools and Apps at spyrestudios, 2011.
- (somewhat and totally) free mind maps
- Freemind Gallery Free maps that work with Freemind and Freeplane)
- Mindmaps directory from Topicscape (includes also different kinds of concept maps)
- Mappio Mind Map Library. 1000s of...
- Biggerplate (MindManager only, but a free viewer is available in principle)
- Online map applications
- Wikimindmap.org allows to visualize relationships between wikipedia pages. (This tool is now open source, DKS 1/2010)
- A simpler SVG tool is available to your left in the toolbox.
- Mind map - Wikipedia or Wapedia. This is a nice introduction.
- Mind map (Wikia education, similar to above but includes pointers to software).
- How to Mind Map: A Beginner’s Guide, by Adam Sicinski, IQ Matrix, March 7, 2009.
- Buzan's mind map guidelines in practical use and How to Make a Mind Map, WikIT,
- Drawing a Mind Map from Start to Finish
- Learn How to Draw Mind Maps
- Mind Maps authorized by Tony Buzan (himself ....)
- How to Mind Map, a short list by Peter Russel
- Buzan, T. (1991). The Mind Map Book. New York: Penguin. Chapter "Mind Mapping Guidelines"
- Buzan, T. (1991). The Mind Map Book. New York: Penguin
- Farrand, P.; Hussain, F.; Hennessy, E. (2002). "The efficacy of the mind map study technique". Medical Education 36 (5): 426-431. Retrieved on 2005-05-05.
- Pressley, M., VanEtten, S., Yokoi, L., Freebern, G., & VanMeter, P. (1998). "The metacognition of college studentship: A grounded theory approach". In: D. J. Hacker, J. Dunlosky, & A. C. Graesser (Eds.), Metacognition in Theory and Practice (pp. 347-367). Mahwah NJ: Erlbaum
- Watson, Katherine, A French Exception: Mind Mapping à la française in the cyberspatial dimension, TCC 2009 Proceedings, PDF