5 Free ways to create a mindmap

Related to mindmapping, but not entirely the same, is the creative brainstorming method of clustering. While a mind map already systematically arranges the upper and lower categories, clustering lacks this structuring component. Clustering is more about free association. That’s why clusters are often less ramified and more simply designed than mindmaps. For this purpose, the terms that are around the keyword in the middle can also be linked together here.

You must decide for yourself which method is best suited for your particular purpose. Generally, clustering is used for free, creative brainstorming. Mindmaps, on the other hand, are used to develop ideas as well as to structure and visually represent topics. Also presentations in the context of a lecture are well illustrated by a mind map.

Mind mapping and memory training. Overview.

Mind Mapping for Dummies (Fur Dummies)

Mind Mapping

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1. Create a mind map on paper

You do not need any computer skills for manual mindmapping. With a pen and a sheet of paper – at least in the size DIN A 4, so that you also have enough space – you can immediately start brainstorming with the creative technique of the mind map.

Mindmapping works so that you start in the middle with a generic term. This is the topic you would like to work out in this way. For better highlighting you can then draw a circle around this generic term.

Based on the selected keyword, you now write down various subcategories around this term, which come to mind for this topic. Connect these subcategories with a line to the head term, so you can see at a glance which aspects belong together.

Under these first "branches around the main keyword you can note as many further sub-terms and aspects as you like and connect them with the respective term above it. Depending on which order you prefer, you can systematically work through all the points that come to mind, or think about the rough subcategories first and add to them as they come to mind. Just proceed intuitively. You yourself know best, in which way your ideas flow better.

Mindmapping – Example (Image: Karin Scherbart)

For practical illustration I have created a mindmap for one of my planned article topics. After I had entered the generic term, I thought about which sub-areas this topic could contain. Then I systematically worked through these subcategories one by one as I created the mindmap.

Of course, there is usually not enough space on created mindmaps to provide more than just an overview. Especially with complex topics it is not possible to add all details and facts, but this is not the actual goal of mindmapping. References and cross references do not belong in a mind map, especially since they would rather confuse anyway. A mind map does not replace a more thorough examination of a topic, but is intended as an aid to finding ideas and a clear structure.

2. With the open source software FreeMind in Windows and Linux

An easy to use free mind map program, which also has many useful additional functions, is the free software FreeMind, which you can download for free on the Internet or install as an Ubuntu user via the software center of your computer. This freeware is practically an all-round program for the professional creation of mindmaps. It offers everything you need for this. You can also format your mind maps as you like, choose from a wide range of fonts, highlight text within the mind map with colors, emphasize sub-nodes with various symbols, sort them by priority and even insert tables. There are no limits to creativity and ingenuity with this tool. This is also an ideal way to build up and visualize more complex topics.

Create a mindmap for free with FreeMind (Image: Karin Scherbart)

For the beginning, the basic functions are surely enough for you. To create a mindmap in FreeMind, first start the program. Now you can get started right away. On the editing area you will find a circle with the placeholder text "New Mindmap". Click in this circle to enter your own starting term there. Save your input with the "Enter" key-Key. Now click on the yellow light bulb icon at the top of the menu bar to create a new sub-node. Now you can type in your text by clicking into this subitem. Later you can edit already created points at any time by going into the field and right-clicking once. Then click the menu item "Edit nodes" to.

If you want to continue in this sub-node, again go to the light bulb icon and then write your idea about it in the newly formed point. If you want to continue at another place, you have to click on the corresponding sub-item in front of it. The activated point is always grayed out. Finally, of course, you should save your mind map. Printing is also possible.

3. Free of charge with the freeware EDraw Mind Map

Similarly extensively equipped is the free software EDraw Mind Map. This also offers all important design options for the creation of mindmaps of all kinds. For this you can choose between several layouts. In addition, you can import files in the formats JPG, GIF, BMP and EDD into the mind map and save the finished overviews as PDF, JPG, HTML or TIFF file. The program, which is available for free, is typically a bit cumbersome (the variety of functions could easily confuse laymen at the beginning) and thus does not make as intuitive an impression as the open source software FreeMind, but that is certainly a matter of opinion. The English-language freeware EDraw Mind Map can be used with Windows XP or higher.

4. Mindmaps with XMind

Very clearly structured and beautifully designed can be a mind map with XMind, which you can download as a free version. The created mindmaps can be exported to Office and PDF files and shared over your local network. Other supported formats are RTF, HTML, PNG, JPG, Plain Text, SVG as well as FreeMind and MindManager files. XMind works with all operating systems (Windows, Linux, Mac).

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5. Make a mindmap for free with online tools

If you want to create a mind map quickly without downloading any software, there are alternative Internet services that offer this possibility for free. But then they are also stored only online and not on your computer.

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