Mind Mapping

by Gillian Burn

Getting started

To get started, you need a few simple tools:

  • Plain paper
  • Coloured pens
  • A relaxed frame of mind
  • A little time
  • A willingness to have some fun!

Once these are in place, you can start creating your first Mind Map®.

Step 1

Take your plain paper, A4 or larger, and turn it sideways (landscape).

Step 2

Start in the centre and create an image that represents a key area, such as the presentation or report you need to prepare, for example. The central image should be quite small, to allow space around it for further branches. If you are using A4 paper, for example, a central image of up to five centimetres (two inches) in diameter should be adequate. Keep the image open, so it creates its own shape: if you put a line, circle or frame around the image, you will constrain your thinking).

Step 3

Add the main branches or key themes around the central image, using curved, organic, wavy lines. Use a different colour for each main branch to clearly differentiate each section. Use thicker lines towards the centre and thinner lines as you radiate away from the centre. Ensure each line is short, making it the same length as its key word, to allow space for further branches or levels of thought. Print the key word above the wavy line. Printing is easier to read and improves subsequent recall. Most people use capitals for the main branches and lower case for subsequent levels of thought. You can start anywhere or radiate clockwise, starting at one o’clock on a clock face, or randomly add branches. You can add numbers to branches later, if you need to show a different order.

Step 4

Add further levels of thoughts/branches as you explore extra information, using lower case, but still printing.

Step 5

Add images and symbols to make the information more memorable.


Have a go now! Choose one of the following to get you started:

  • Prepare a mind map of a project you need to complete
  • Mind map the News from the television
  • Mind map the content of a letter you need to write.

Enjoy your mind mapping journey!

Mind maps are an external ‘photograph’ of the complex interrelationships of your thought at any given time. They enable your brain to ‘see itself’ more clearly, and will greatly enhance the full range of your thinking skills; they will add increasing competence, enjoyment, elegance and fun to your life.

Tony Buzan