Mind Maps

"Mind Map" is a trademark of the Buzan Organisation

Mind Maps are important techniques for improving the way you take notes but can
also be used to plan research. By using Mind Maps you show the structure of the subject and linkages between points, as well as the raw facts contained in normal notes. Mind Maps hold information in a format that your mind will find easy to remember and quick to review.

HOW TO... Develop Your Skills Using Mind Maps

Mind Maps abandon the list format of conventional note taking (linear note taking).
They do this in favour of a two-dimensional structure. A good Mind Map shows the
'shape' of the subject, the relative importance of individual points, and the way in
which one fact relates to others. Mind Maps are more compact than conventional
notes, often taking up one side of paper. This helps you to make associations
easily. If you find out more information after you have drawn the main Mind Map,
then you can easily integrate it with little disruption.
Mind Maps are also useful for:
❖ Summarising information
❖ Consolidating information from different research sources
❖ Planning research and generating keywords
❖ Finding gaps in your knowledge
❖ Thinking through complex problems
❖ Presenting information that shows the overall structure of your subject.
Mind Maps are also very quick to review, as it is easy to refresh information in your
mind just by glancing at one and they are therefore useful for studying for exams.
Mind Maps can also be effective mnemonics. Remembering the shape and
structure of a Mind Map can provide the cues necessary to remember the
information within it and how topics are linked. They engage much more of the brain in the process of assimilating and connecting facts than conventional notes.

Basic Mind Maps

To make notes on a subject using a Mind Map, draw it in the following way:

  1. Start with the Main Idea:

    • Write the main topic in the center of the page and draw a circle around it.
  2. Add Major Subheadings:

    • For important subtopics, draw lines out from the circle and label them with subheadings.
  3. Include Sub-Subheadings:

    • If there are more details under the subheadings, draw lines and link them to the subheading lines.
  4. Attach Facts or Ideas:

    • Connect individual facts or ideas by drawing lines from the appropriate subheading and labeling them.

Remember, the main idea is at the center, major subtopics branch out, and you can keep adding levels for more detailed information.

Mind Map Image

As you come across new information, link it into the Mind Map appropriately.
A complete Mind Map may have main topic lines radiating in all directions from the
centre. Sub-topics and facts will branch off these, like branches and twigs from the
trunk of a tree. You do not need to worry about the structure produced, as this will
evolve of its own accord.
Note that the idea of 'levels' in Figure 1 above is only used to help show how the
Mind Map was created. All we are showing is that major headings radiate from the
centre, with lower-level headings and facts branching off from the higher-level

Improving your Mind Maps

Your Mind Maps are your own property: once you understand how to make notes in
the Mind Map format, you can develop your own conventions to take them further.
The following suggestions may help to increase the effectiveness of your Mind Maps:

  • Use single words or simple phrases for information:
    Most words in normal writing are padding, as they ensure that facts are
    conveyed in the correct context and in a format that is pleasant to read. In
    your own Mind Maps, single strong words and meaningful phrases can
    convey the same meaning more powerfully. Excess words just clutter the
    Mind Map.

  • Print words:
    Joined up or indistinct writing can be more difficult to read.

  • Use colour to separate different ideas:
    This will help you to separate ideas where necessary and helps to show the
    organisation of the subject. It also helps you to visualise the Mind Map for

  • Use symbols and images:
    Where a symbol or picture means something to you, use it. Pictures can help
    you to remember information more effectively than words.

  • Using cross-linkages:
    Information in one part of the Mind Map may relate to another part. Here you
    can draw in lines to show the cross-linkages. This helps you to see how one
    part of the subject affects another.
Key Points

Mind Maps provide an extremely effective method of taking notes. They show not
only facts, but also the overall structure of a subject and the relative importance of
individual parts of it. Mind Maps help you to associate ideas and make connections
that you might not otherwise make.

Mind maps are also useful for:

  • Planning your research strategy
  • Finding gaps in your knowledge
  • Listing keywords for searching
  • Showing the links in a subject which can help structure a report/essay
  • Studying i.e., using them as a tool which visually aids memory.
Mind Map Exercise


 Take a piece of paper – write the topic for your research in the centre 

  • Develop a mind map around the central topic 
  • What is the scope of your report? 
  • What do you already know? 
  • What do you need to find out?  
  • Where will you find this information?  
  • How will you structure this information? 


    Now list possible resources where you research this information e.g.  

    • Books 
    • eBooks 
    • Reference Works 
    • eJournals  
    • websites 
    • Companies 
    • Newspapers 
    • Government reports 
    • Organisations reports