Mind maps are, by definition, a graphical method of taking notes. Their visual basis helps one to distinguish words or ideas, often with colors and symbols. They generally take a hierarchical or tree branch format, with ideas branching into their subsections. Mind maps allow for greater creativity when recording ideas and information, as well as allowing the note-taker to associate words with visual representations. Mind maps differ from concept maps in that mind maps focus on only one word or idea, whereas concept maps connect multiple words or ideas.
In his books on Mind Maps author Tony Buzan suggests using the following guidelines for creating Mind Maps:
- Start in the center with an image of the topic, using at least 3 colors.
- Use images, symbols, codes, and dimensions throughout your Mind Map.
- Select key words and print using upper or lower case letters.
- Each word/image is best alone and sitting on its own line.
- The lines should be connected, starting from the central image. The central lines are thicker, organic and thinner as they radiate out from the centre.
- Make the lines the same length as the word/image they support.
- Use multiple colors throughout the Mind Map, for visual stimulation and also to encode or group.
- Develop your own personal style of Mind Mapping.
- Use emphasis and show associations in your Mind Map.
- Keep the Mind Map clear by using radial hierarchy, numerical order or outlines to embrace your branches.