Effective ways of displaying information
Effective ways of displaying information

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Effective ways of displaying information

2.6 Mind mapping

The term mind mapping was devised by Tony Buzan for the representation of such things as ideas, notes and information, in radial tree diagrams — sometimes also called spider diagrams. These are now very widely used — try a web search on ‘Buzan’, ‘mind map’ or ‘concept map’.

Figure 15 shows an example taken from a real problem-solving session.

Figure 15
Figure 15: An example of a mind map from a problem-solving session (Source: Buzan, 1982).

Box 4: How to draw a mind map

  1. Put your paper (ideally a large sheet) in landscape format and write a brief title for the overall topic in the middle of the page.

  2. For each major subtopic or cluster of material, start a new major branch from the central topic, and label it.

  3. For each sub-subtopic or sub-cluster, form a subsidiary branch to the appropriate main branch. Do this too, for ever finer sub-branches.


  • You may want to put an item in more than one place. You can copy it into each place or draw in a cross-link.

  • Show relationships between items on different branches by coding them using a particular colour or type of writing, for example.

  • Identify particular branches or items with drawings or other pictorial devices to bring the map to life.

There are several mind mapping software packages available. They make it very much easier to edit and rearrange the map; they can sometimes hold notes and documents associated with labels (so that they can act as filing systems), and some can switch between map and text outline formats.

However, computer-based maps have the disadvantages of the small screen, and are less adaptable than hand-drawn versions (for example, you can't usually make cross-links).


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