What is MindMapping?

Mind mapping is a technique of structuring and visualizing your thoughts. Like clustering, it brings linguistic and visual thinking together. First, gather your insights and identify key points. Then organize those points and relate them to information that you have researched on a targeted basis – terms, statements, hypotheses – to form a network of terms. This method is very useful for working out an overview of a subject, achieving structure for texts you have read, and organizing drafts of written work. It is also a very clear way to present even larger thematic areas systematically and with nuance.

How to make a mind map:

  • Write the main term – your topic – in the middle of a blank sheet of paper.
  • Jot down all insights, relevant key points, facts, and information relating to your topic in key points on small slips of paper.
  • Form groups of thematically related points and assign a heading to each one. Which terms and statements are related to each other, and how?
  • Enter these headings/key terms in your mind map as main branches. They represent the thematic areas of emphasis at a relatively abstract level. Arrange your main thematic terms in lines branching out from the main term (topic).
  • Add insights and facts that you have noted before then as further branches from each main thematic term. Think about whether all key terms are equally important or whether hierarchies or logical sequences should be kept in mind. Sort your insights accordingly and draw them in as branching out from the main branches. These side branches are used for keywords related to the topic.
  • The importance of each keyword should be clear: Important ideas are close to the middle, while less important ones are toward the edges.
  • Clarify the connection between individual keywords by drawing connecting lines.
  • Use colors and images as much as possible. This stimulates creative thinking and is especially helpful in terms of retaining memories.

Think of your mind map as an initial idea for organizing your topic. You can add further detail or nuance to your mind map anytime, adding new insights and information. If you aren’t sure where to put something because there are multiple possibilities, you can put it down several times, wherever it fits in with the rest.

(Lit.  Buzan, Tony (1984): Kopftraining. Anleitung zum kreativen Denken. München: Goldmann (2.Aufl.)

Mind Manager and MindMan are software programs that can be used to make mind maps)

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