Use a mind map to visually organize related ideas and concepts. Mind maps help you come up with ideas quickly and creatively, so you can think about things in new and different ways. When you begin to see the connections and associations between your ideas, you can start to better understand the central concept, or "big picture" view, which in turn, can lead to solutions to help you reach your goals.

Watch this video to learn more:

On a mind map, ideas and concepts branch from the center of the diagram in a circular pattern.

Example of a mind map

This mind map provides a "big picture" view of the different delivery options for end-user training.

Answers the questions:
  • What is the "big picture", or main area of focus, among a large group of related ideas and concepts?
  • What are the associations between the "sub-areas", or more narrow areas of focus, that emerge from the big picture?
  • What problem am I trying to solve?
When to Use Purpose
Pre-project Brainstorm potential projects and project areas.
Throughout a project Explore the entire problem space, find areas of focus, generate creative solutions, present information, collaborate with others.


  • Mind maps always have the central topic at the center of the map.
  • Affinities radiate directly from the central topic.
  • For clarity and comprehension, try not to exceed 7 first-level affinities.
  • Limit ideas to single keywords or short phrases, not sentences, to promote creativity and clarity.
  • Closely associated keywords are in close proximity of each other. Words that are far apart look and feel disconnected.
  • Color-coding can reinforce how ideas are related or represent shared characteristics.


  • Enter a central topic in the center of the mind map.
  • Add shapes to the central topic to help you organize your ideas. Do not worry about the order in which you enter your ideas because you can reorganize them at any time.
  • Continue to add shapes until you run out of ideas. Elaborate on your ideas by creating sub-ideas.
  • Logically arrange the ideas to create associations between them.
  • Make sure the most important information is close to the central topic. Keep specific details farther away from the central topic
  • Add color to represent different levels of thought or to separate ideas into categories.

Quickly brainstorm ideas in the brainstorming list and click-and-drag them to the diagram to create associations between related ideas. For more information, go to Generate a brainstorm list.

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