While mind maps can address a variety of topics and can take on a variety of forms, there are two formats that will be used to create them. Either the mind map will be hand drawn or it will be computer generated. Depending on the way your mind processes information best and the amount of time you have, each format has its advantages and disadvantages.

1. Hand drawn mind map

Some mind maps are drawn by hand in the moment. These often happen somewhat on the fly in a class or workshop environment. They can also be drawn more thoughtfully and gradually. The mind map in Figure 5-3 is an example of a hand drawn mind map. These definitely look more artistic than other mind maps but other than that there are some advantages to creating them.

types of mind maps photo

Advantages of hand a drawn mind map.

1. Low cost

When you want to draw a mind map by hand all you need is a piece of paper and a set of colored pencils or markers. Your hand and your imagination are essentially all you need to get started once you have these tools.

ii. Unique

Anything drawn by hand is automatically an original creation that can’t be replicated by anyone else. If this is important to you, then you may prefer drawing your mind maps by hand.

iii. Portable

You can hand draw a mind map anywhere at any time. As long as you have the basic tools and your brain, you’re able to draw one.

iv. Stylized

Your mind map can look like anything you want it to when you’re drawing it by hand. You can insert your own level of style into the mind map and there are no restrictions on how it will look.

Hand drawn mind maps are most attractive to the people who enjoy the more tactile approach that putting pen to paper allows. It can make you feel very productive to create a hand drawn mind map and that feeling can be exhilarating and inspiring. However, not everyone prefers to hand draw mind maps. There are some disadvantages to creating mind maps by hand.

Disadvantages Of Hand Drawn Mind Map

1. Cannot be digitally stored or shared unless scanned

If you don’t own a scanner, it will be tough to share a hand drawn mind map. You could make copies of it but if it’s in color, the copies may not have the same look as the original.

ii. Size is limited

It would be tough to create a really large hand drawn mind map. While it’s not impossible, it is challenging and could take a really long time to create.

iii. Tough to edit

Once you’ve created your hand drawn mind map, you can’t easily make changes to it without possibly altering the entire structure of it.

2. Computer generated mind map

For those people who want to create mind maps but don’t feel artistically inclined enough to draw one by hand, there are computer programs that you can use to create them as well. There are a variety of different programs, both free and paid that I will share later. But first, let’s discuss the advantages and disadvantages of computer generated mind maps.

Advantages of computer generated mind map.

1. Easy to arrange and re-arrange

You can create a computer generated mind map and it’s very easy to move things around as you see fit. This increased flexibility makes computer generated mind maps great for those people who may need to change things around at a later date but not want to create a new mind map.

ii. Can include embedded documents, images and other files

Sometimes your mind map may reference specific documents and it would be helpful to be able to embed those documents in the map. Computer generated mind maps make it possible to expand on them with links, documents and other information that turns it into a database as well as a mind map.

iii. Shared collaboration

You may need to collaborate on a mind map with others who can’t be in the same room as you and a computer program is the only way the mind map will be created. This can be very valuable for individuals who don’t have the luxury of an in person meeting but still need to accomplish a shared task.

iv. Ability to share with relative ease

Since this mind map is already on the computer, it’s much easier to share it with others via email or a file sharing service.

v. Can be incorporated into other software programs

If you have a mind map that you’d like to include within a presentation or larger document, a computer generated one can be fairly easily imported into the document.

vi. Presentation friendly

Because the mind map is computer generated, it can be a really unique way to present an idea or a series of ideas to a group using a projector or other presentation tool. Most people do presentations using programs like Powerpoint or Keynote so a presentation using a mind map would really stand out.

Computer generated mind maps are great for people who prefer working with a keyboard and a mouse. They allow for some flexibility in thought when creating them, which can be beneficial for those people whose brainstorming process can go through multiple layers. But there are some disadvantages to computer generated mind maps.

Disadvantages of computer generated mind map.

1. Cost

While there are free mind mapping software programs available, the more robust ones will cost a fee to use. This can be a challenge, especially for someone who has a tight budget and can’t afford to invest in the software.

ii. Tough to personalize

Since you’re using a computer to create the mind map, it can be an added challenge to put your personal touch on it.

iii. Software learning curve

As with all new software programs there is a learning curve with mind mapping software programs. Some people don’t do so well with learning how to use new software and may be discouraged from creating mind maps this way.

iv. Requires access to a computer

You have to use a computer to use mind mapping software programs. It’s impossible to create one without a computer and that can be a challenge for some people. Any time something requires people be able to use a computer, it brings up other questions about accessibility and who can truly afford it. Even if you can afford the software, if you can’t gain access to a computer it’s not going to be possible to create the mind maps.

As you may have noticed the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages in both hand drawn and computer generated mind maps. Ultimately it comes down to preference and access. If you don’t have immediate access to a computer with mind mapping software on it then you don’t have a choice but to create them by hand. However, there are benefits to both. The most important thing to keep in mind is that ultimately, the benefits of creating mind maps in general are much stronger than the negatives. Regardless if you prefer to write it by hand, use a computer program or do a combination of both, you should start using mind maps.