This article outlines the correct way to make a mind map. There are many different ways to create mind maps and many different ways to use them. In fact, a plethora of different rules have been established for putting them together. Mind maps do not have to be done the same way every single time. They are versatile by nature. However, there are some things that you must do in order to get the most value out of them.

When you are creating a mind map using  mind mapping technique, it is best to use singular keywords. This means that you want to use singular concepts and singular ideas, instead of trying to fit multiple ideas into one topic or sub-topic. You want to break these ideas or pieces into the smallest form possible so that your sub-topics can cleanly break off of that one topic with no confusion. You are really going after one single concept, data point, or idea.

mind map demonstration

When you create a main topic, it should so fully encapsulate that main idea in such a way that the supporting subtopics easily relate to the main keyword. For example, in most cases you wouldn’t want to use something like ‘Fruits & Vegetables’ for your main keyword. Instead, you would want to use the keyword ‘Fruit’ and followed with subtopics like ‘Banana’, ‘Apple’, ‘Orange’, etc. That allows you to look at that specific main topic of fruit and clearly understand everything that is associated with that main topic of ‘Fruit’. In this case, everything that follows should be a type of fruit.

Usually when you see subtopics coming off of a topic, the relationship is one to where the main idea carries over. There is transference of the idea, or main concept, downward. So, with the main topic being ‘Fruit’ and ‘Apple’ being a subtopic, you know that ‘Apple’ is a type of fruit. It is that clear relation that gives the hierarchy that was created so much power. That is why you go after singular keywords.

Now, a less specific way to think about this is that the length of the branch should be the same as the word. Subtopics should not be paragraphs and paragraphs of content. At most it should be a short sentence, made up of just a few words. The same thing applies to main topics and the central topic. You don’t want a giant mind map that is loaded with words. You want to be as concise as possible. This length requirement isn’t really a requirement at all, just a guideline that should be followed. You should know why mind maps work.

Main topic lines can be thicker than subtopic lines. This symbolically shows that the main topics are more powerful or more closely related to the central topic. This visual representation gives you a lot of information at a glance. The same guideline applies to arrows. By the way, if there are arrows used, this symbolically states ‘it’s of this kind’, ‘it’s related to’, or ‘the information flows in that direction’. So, sometimes you will see arrows in a mind map, and sometimes you won’t because arrows refer to the information flow.

The final guideline is that you must group like items together. You can do this in a variety of ways. You can use similar shapes or similar colors to group information. Just the fact that you have a central topic leading to a main topic which in turn leads into subtopics makes a statement. You are saying that this information is related, which is essentially the whole point of grouping in a mind map.

laws of mind mapping

The way that the information is presented visually tells you an awful lot, even at a glance. You can move these topics and subtopics around at any time to re-think or re-organize these topics as needed to show that one ‘holds more weight’ than another and so on. This is especially easy to do when using software.

These guidelines were meant to help you understand the basic rules for creating mind maps and the reasons for each. Of course, you can break these rules at any time. You can organize the information in any way that helps you best. However, knowing these rules can help you to communicate to yourself and others more effectively.

Suggested Readings :

Mind Maps For Note-taking 

Top Five Mind Mapping Softwares