How to make Mind Maps.

Learning how to make mind maps is a skill that you can use throughout your career in academia, but you may ask the question: Why learn/implement it in the first place?

In this article, I plan to answer that for you, and provide you with a starting point to make great mind maps for note-taking, and brainstorming.

What are Mind Maps?

Mind maps are a visual representation of information, with branches representing subtopics from a common idea.

Here is an example of a mind map:

As you can see, the main topic (planning for a small business) is in the center, and subtopics branch out from that node, like a tree. This is great, because it allows the viewer to easily grasp what the topic is about from a glance.

Here is an example of an unfinished mind map I made from a biology lecture:

This is not a traditional mind map (it uses slashes in favor of nodes), but it is the same idea. The slash across the middle of the page is the main topic of the lecture, and each branch contains a sub topic.

Why Mind Maps are effective.

For one, mind maps are a great way to speed up the note taking process in lectures.

Instead of having to take lengthy linear notes in lectures (and miss out on good information), you can use mind maps, summarize the material, and write less overall. This can save you time, while still getting the main points on paper for later review.

In addition to this, students who utilize mind maps retain more information. According to a study, students using mind maps saw a 10% increase in baseline retention. Another study saw 64% of (art related) students saying that they feel more confident with the material when using mind maps.

Mind Mapping Guide.

  • Start with your main idea.

    • Make a node in your mind map, generally the title of the lecture, or the main idea of the current slide

  • Add branches to this main idea

    • These initial branches should still be general. As you branch out further, and the radial tree gets more complex, the nodes become more specific in scope.

    • DON’T jot key facts here. This should just be the title of the subtopic in question.

  • (optional) add images and colors

    • If you are a visual learner, and love the aesthetic, you can color-code your notes.

      • Keep in mind, this adds significant time to your note taking, and should only be done after the lecture.

  • This can be used in a live lecture. When you see that the lecture hits on a main point in a topic, simply draw and label a node of the appropriate specificity.

    • In my example, if the lecture is about “The Working Cell”, and the lecture is currently speaking about “Membrane Structure”, you should have the root node be the title of the lecture, and have a sub-node for Membrane Structure. If the lecture then goes into the different elements of Membrane Structure (Phospholipids, proteins) you can expand upon the “Membrane Structure” node with more sub-nodes.

Final Thoughts

I have started to use mind maps more often, and I love them. They force you to take what the lecturer says, and summarize it as simply as possible. Further, you have to break that summary into logical, coherent parts. I can take a glance at my lesson summaries, and see the general flow of the lecture. If I need to see a specific topic, I can search the tree formation by subtopic.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, I appreciate it! You can check out our other great articles.


Wikipedia Article, LucidChart Article, Small Revolution Article






2 responses to “How to make Mind Maps.”

  1. […] and retain more information without relying heavily on external aids. This clears the way for more advanced note-taking techniques and thought processes that will serve you well throughout your time as a […]

  2. […] of the best ways to study for an exam is by using free recall combined with mind maps. Free recall involves testing your memory by trying to retrieve information without any prompts or […]

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