Top 4 Mind Mapping Methods for Note-Taking (with Examples)

October 5, 2023

Interested in mind maps? 

While traditional note-taking is a simple way to recap what you just learned, mind mapping can revolutionize the way you gather summarize, and explore information.

A mind map is a visual representation of information and ideas, typically organized around a central topic, that uses branches and sub-branches to capture relationships and facilitate brainstorming, planning, and learning.

Here are 4 mind mapping methods (plus examples for each) that you can get started with! 

1. Library maps: Visualize information clearly

Library maps are best used for organizing everything you need to know about a topic. Visually, the map will look like a tree. One node in the center will represent the main idea, with supporting ideas that branch out and have their own details attached.

Drawn in Goodnotes

When to use this mind mapping method

You can use library mind maps when:

  • Gathering and keeping track of information meant for deep dives into particular subjects
  • Summarizing a lecture or class and using it for review before final exams
  • You need a visual outline for writing cohesive essays that explore several ideas around a topic

How to create library mind maps

  1. Identify your topic, and put this in the center of your page.
  2. List major key points or sub-topics around the central node, and connect them.
  3. Branch out the supporting ideas from the corresponding key point. Then, connect them with lines to indicate their relationship.

2. Brace maps: Break down big ideas into small parts

Brace mind maps can be a good tool to rely on when you need to get into a topic's specifics. They are visually more simple than other mind maps as they are made of a subject, a curly bracket, and a vertical list of words.

Drawn in Goodnotes

When to use this mind mapping method 

A brace mind map can be used for:

  • Understanding part-to-whole relationships, such as labeling every part of a physical object or showing the ingredients needed for a recipe 
  • Literature, when keeping track of several characters based on relationships, locations, and time periods
  • Illustrating hierarchy, like organizational charts in companies

How to create brace mind maps

  1. List the main idea or topic on the left
  2. Draw a curly bracket, then vertically list all the parts or related items to the right of the bracket
  3. Keep extending as needed

3. Flow chart maps: Illustrate a process

This type of mind map is best for when you want to visualize a process. There is typically an order in which to read the flow chart, with arrows pointing you to the next step.

Drawn in Goodnotes

When to use this mind mapping method

Flow chart mind maps can be used:

  • For learning every step in a process (for example, biological processes like photosynthesis or metabolism)
  • Process optimization: Flow charts are valuable for identifying inefficiencies or redundancies in a workflow or business process. By mapping out each step and evaluating their interconnections, you can identify areas for improvement and implement changes to streamline operations.
  • Problem-solving: Flow charts are effective tools for analyzing and resolving complex problems. They allow you to visually map out different scenarios, identify potential causes and solutions, and streamline the decision-making process.

How to create flow chart mind maps

Make a flow chart. Start on the left-hand side and list the first step in the process. Add the next step horizontally and to the right of the first step, and connect them. Continue doing this, allowing for off-shoots on certain steps if there are various possible outcomes, or additional details are needed.  

4. Idea jamming mind maps: Make connections

Idea jamming (or brainstorming) mind maps are helpful when creativity strikes and the ideas are free-flowing. Common idea jamming maps look like webs of connected information. Unlike the library mind map, there isn’t necessarily a central idea or topic in this one. 

Drawn in Goodnotes

When to use this mind mapping method

Use idea jamming mind maps to:

  • Generate ideas for a creative project, such as writing a story, designing a website, or planning an event.
  • Think of solutions to a problem or challenge, whether it's in personal life or work-related.

How to create idea jamming mind maps 

There's no prescribed structure to this mind mapping method. Write each core idea or thought in its own block. Then use arrows and lines to make connections.

Tips for any mind mapping method

Follow these suggestions to improve any type of mind map: 

  • Keep it short: The text for each node on your mind map should be one to five words at most. Phrases that are too long will clutter your mind map and cause confusion with information you don’t need.
  • Draw connections and label them: Keep track of how ideas are related and remember important details.
  • Use colors: Colors add meaning and context without the need for more text.
  • Include images: Images increase memory retention; using the right amount helps reinforce the meaning of your mind map.
  • Re-use and apply: In order to remember what you’ve learned, re-visit your mind maps and apply them to other settings. Create a quiz or try to answer essay questions by relying on your mind map. Doing so can give you the confidence to apply what you learned in any context.

And if you're thinking of going digital....

Get mind mapping!

We hope you'll get the chance to try one (or all!) of these 4 mind mapping methods.

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