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Study Skills


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2.11 Mind maps

What is a Mind Map?

A Mind Map is a powerful graphic technique which provides a universal key to unlock the potential of the brain. It harnesses the full range of cortical skills – word, image, number, logic, rhythm, colour and spatial awareness – in a single, uniquely powerful manner. In so doing, it gives you the freedom to roam the infinite expanses of your brain. The Mind Map can be applied to every aspect of life where improved learning and clearer thinking will enhance human performance.

Originated in the late 1960s by Tony Buzan, Mind Maps are now used by millions of people around the world – from the very young to the very old – whenever they wish to use their minds more effectively.

Here is Tony Buzan talking about mind maps:


Similarly to a road map, a Mind Map will:

Give you an overview of a large subject/area.
Enable you to plan routes/make choices and let you know where you are going and where you have been.
Gather and hold large amounts of data for you.
Encourage problem solving by showing you new creative pathways.
Enable you to be extremely efficient.
Be enjoyable to look at, read, muse over and remember.
Attract and hold your eye/brain.
Let you see the whole picture and the details at the same time.
Assist YOU!


1 Turn a large A4 (11.7" x 8.3") or preferably A3 (16.7" x 11.7"), white sheet of paper on its side (landscape), or use a Mind Map pad.

2 Gather a selection of coloured pens, ranging from fine nib to medium and highlighters.

3 Select the topic, problem or subject to be Mind Mapped.

4 Gather any materials or research or additional information.

5 Start in the centre with an unframed image – approximately 6cm high and wide for an A4 and 10cm for an A3.

6 Use dimension, expression and at least three colours in the central image in order to attract attention and aid memory.

7 Make the branches closest to the centre thicker, attached to the image and ‘wavy’ (organic). Place the Basic Ordering Ideas (BOIs) or the 'chapter heading' equivalents on the branches.

8 Branch thinner lines off the end of the appropriate BOIs to hold supporting data (most important closest).

9 Use images wherever possible.

10 The image or word should always sit on a line of the same length.

11 Use colours as your own special code to show people, topics, themes or dates and to make the Mind Map more beautiful.

12 Capture all ideas (your own or others’), then edit, re-organise, make more beautiful, elaborate or clarify as a second stage of thinking.

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Mind Map Laws

1 These are the brain-reflecting foundation structures of a Mind Map.
The more of them you follow, the more effective your Mind Map.

2 Start in the centre with an image of the topic, using at least 3 colours.

3 Use images, symbols, codes and dimensions throughout your Mind Map.

4 Select key words and print using upper or lower case letters.

5 Each word word/image must be alone and sitting on its own line.

6 The lines must be connected, starting from the central image. The central lines are thicker, organic and flowing, becoming thinner as they radiate out from the centre.

7 Make the lines the same length as the word/image.

8 Use colours – your own code – throughout the Mind Map.

9 Develop your own personal style of Mind Mapping.

10 Use emphasis and show associations in your Mind Map.

11 Keep the Mind Map clear by using Radiant hierarchy, numerical order or outlines to embrace your branches.


Mind Maps can be applied to most of life's situations that involve any learning or thinking.

As an individual: planning; to do 'lists'; projects; communicating; organising; problem analysing/solving.

As a learner: remembering; note taking; note making; reports; essays; presentations; exams; thinking; concentrating.

As a worker/professional: planning; communicating; projects; organising; overviewing; meetings; training;
negotiating; interviewing; appraisals; BrainBlooming.

All these Mind Map Applications (MMapplications) reduce the time spent on the activity; heighten the thinking effectiveness and clarity and increase the concentration and enjoyment of the activity

A Mind Map makes study, work and thinking enjoyable!

Uses Benefits
Learning Reduce those ‘tons of work’. Feel good about study, revision and exams. Have confidence in your learning abilities.
Overviewing See the whole picture, the global view, at once. Understand the links and connections.
Concentrating Focus on the task for better results. Using all of your cortical skills attracts your attention.
Memorising Easy recall. ‘See’ the information in your mind’s eye.
Organising Be on top of all of the details for parties, holidays, projects or any other subject.
Presenting Speeches are clear, relaxed and alive. You can be at your best.
Communicating In all forms with clarity and conciseness.
Planning Orchestrate all details and aspects – from beginning to end – on one piece of paper.
Meetings From planning to agenda, to chairing, to taking the minutes … the jobs are completed with speed and efficiency.
Training From preparation to presentation they make the job easier and much faster .
Thinking Having a method to analyse thoughts – almost a ‘way-station’ for them.
Negotiating All the issues, your position and manoeuvrability in one sheet
Brain Blooming The new brain-storming in which more thoughts are generated and appropriately assessed.

Source: Buzan, T. Mind Mapping, available from www.mind-map.com

Links to further resources on mind maps

Mind Tools
Mind Mapping

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Last updated: 27 May 2011

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