Posted by: wordsmithsuk | May 25, 2010

Laws for creating powerful Mind Maps


Some people are surprised that Mind Maps are rigidly controlled by laws. How can we gain maximum freedom and individual expression if we have to stick rigidly to a set of laws?  However, the Mind Map laws provide a logical and structured framework for creativity which satisfies the both left and the right brain. Without the Mind Mapping laws, the mind would wander off on tangents or daydreams; it would never be able to focus its enormous power on a particular topic or problem. There are many other good reasons for observing these laws, and I’ll explain these below.

These are Tony Buzan’s Mind Mapping laws.

1 Place the plain paper in a landscape position. This horizontal orientation makes the Mind Map easier to look at because your eyes are set side by side, not one above the other. You’ll also find you can fit more information on the page when the paper is in this position.

2 Start with a coloured image in the centre. The central image that you start with is crucial to the success of the Mind Map. This image represents the topic or question you are going to explore or answer, so it’s worth spending a few minutes clarifying it and getting it right before moving on. Do not put a border or frame around your image; allow it to have its own unique shape.

If you find it hard to draw, try using a word or two as the central image of your Mind Map. You can make these words more expressive and attractive by incorporating pictures or patterns into the letters and using three or more colours.

3 Draw the main themes of the Mind Map on thick branches radiating out from the central image. The main branches are thick to make them stand out.  Print or draw words and pictures which represent your themes along these main branches.

4 Use lines to link second and third levels of pictures or words to the main branches. Each line, with its associated idea or image, may broken down into further sub-levels, which flow or radiate from the ‘parent’ line.

5 Use images throughout your Mind Map. Images stimulate your right brain, attract the eye and act as memory triggers. Use patterns, shapes, symbols as well as stick figures and tiny pictures. Use images either instead of or as well as words on your Mind Map.

6 Print key words. Printed words are clearer, more legible and easier to remember than ordinary handwriting.

7 Put the printed words on lines. You must write or draw words or pictures on the lines and each line should be connected to other lines. It’s important to write or draw on the lines as this saves space and makes the associations clearer.

8 Put only  one word on each line. This leaves each word more free hooks and gives note taking more freedom and flexibility.

9 Make your lines curved and organic. The Mind Map is a growing structure which mirrors the way many living things develop. Curved lines are more attractive and more pleasant to draw than straight ones and they will add to the pleasure of creating and reviewing it

10 Use colours throughout the Mind Map. Colours enhance memory, delight the eye and stimulate the right brain processes.

Mind Map of the 10 Mind Mapping LawsHere’s a Mind Map summarising the ten laws.

I’ve noticed, however, that a lot of Mind Maps do not stick to these laws. I think that’s OK – if the person who created the Mind Map knows that he/she is breaking the laws and is doing it for a good reason. As long as you follow most of the above laws most of the time, your Mind Maps will be very effective.

One of the problems with much of the Mind Mapping software currently available is that it doesn’t allow us to implement the Mind Map laws. What do you think?

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