Mind map is a visual diagram to organize and present information. You can learn more about mind maps in our definitive guide here: An Introduction to Mind Maps.

In this article, we’ll focus on showing you how to create a mind map from scratch.

The real beauty of a mind map is that there’s no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” kind of approach to creating them. All you really need is a blank canvas with which to paint your thoughts on.

At the same time, a little bit of structure can definitely help you handle the heavy lifting of getting into the groove of mind mapping pretty quickly. Here’s a quick guide to help you hit the ground running.

Tools you need:

  • A pen
  • A piece of paper
  • Or you can use a mind map software, such as our tool Zen Mind Map.

Step 1: Define your central topic

Step 1: Define Central topic

Start with what we call a “central topic” (or central node). The central topic is the foundation that the rest of your mental map is built off of. It needs to be simple but significant, concise, and the main pillar that you’ll build off and expand moving forward.

You want your central topic to be simple enough to condense down but broad enough to allow for your map to grow and expand – sometimes in ways you wouldn’t have expected. Spend time really focusing on what your want your map to be about before going any further.

Step 2: Begin Branching Out and add Sibling or Child Topics

Step 2: Branch out

The idea here is to build out from your central idea with broad, simple themes.

These are going to be the main pillars of your map, the more branches that you’ll hang the more granular bits of info off of as you go along. Keep these simple as well, but clearly define these branches from one another. They’ll act as anchors back to your core concept, but they’ll also allow you to quickly see the interplay and the relationships between the different and defined branches you create from here on out.

To keep your information more organized, you may choose to create topics with different relationships. Sibling topics are topics of the same level. Child topic is one level further from the central topic (see our visual guide above).

Step 3: Build, Build, Build

Mind Map Example - Business Plan

From here on out you’ll work on really fleshing your map out.

Add details to your individual branches, using keywords, short snippets of text, images – whatever you need to really mind dump and get everything down on paper. This is where you’ll want to start drawing little lines of connectivity between your branches, too.

Show how different components on your map work with one another, how the relationships of these disparate pillars connect, and how everything ties back into the central core of the map itself.

The more visual you can make your map the more useful you’ll find it, too!

We highly recommend using a mind map software, which allows you to edit, drag and move branches, insert links or icons, and share your work easily with your friends and colleagues.

Zen Mind Map is the simplest tool to create mind maps.