Mind Maps

What is a mind map?

A mind map is a diagram, usually colorful and visually engaging, with information consisting of words and images arranged radially around a central concept. They can be drawn by hand, or created on a computer. The term “mind map” was coined and trademarked by Tony Buzan. He developed them as memory aids, useful for summarizing learning and organizing thoughts. He has written several books on them. Many people have extended his ideas, and written other books on them. Many software programs are available, with prices ranging from free to several hundred dollars.

What are mind maps good for?

Mind maps are an extremely versatile tool. I have used mind maps to summarize books, organize presentations, capture ideas I don’t want to forget, track group brainstorming sessions, explore diverse aspects of a problem or new project, for to do lists, and to plan and develop this web site. Others have used them for teaching, studying, speeches, and writing books, to name just a few.

What are some examples of mind maps?

Click on any of the thumbnails above for examples on this site.

A gallery of mind maps from an official Buzan site
The appearance of a mind map depends on the person creating it, and the tool they choose. Here you can see two different versions of Dan Pink’s A Whole New Mind:
Steve Richards’
Andy Wibbels’

Where can I learn more about mind maps?


More information on creating and using mind maps:
A mind map depicting how to mind map
An article with 40 links to resources for mind mapping and graphic organizers
Chuck Frey stays on top of new developments in mind mapping
A comprehensive listing of mind mapping and similar software tools
Thoughtful articles on using mind maps in business

This is a short list of mind mapping software. There are others, but these are mature and well-supported. Look for galleries or screenshots to see how they look. All offer a free download and trial period. I use the first three: NovaMind, Inspiration, and FreeMind.

  • NovaMind has 3 versions, affordably-priced for Mac and Windows.
  • Inspiration is designed for kids and educational institutions, but useful for adults too. Versions are available for Mac, Windows, and iPad.
  • FreeMind is open source (free!) and has downloads available for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux, and source code if you want to build it yourself for some other OS.
  • MindManager is oriented toward business users.

Since this page was compiled, new software and technologies have emerged. Search online for the best solution for your needs.


The Mind Map Book: How to Use Radiant Thinking to Maximize Your Brain’s Untapped Potential, Tony Buzan with Barry Buzan, 1993, Plume, NY, NY

Mindmapping: Your Personal Guide to Exploring Creativity and Problem-Solving, Joyce Wycoff, 1991, Berkley, NY, NY

Mapping Inner Space: Learning and Teaching Visual Mapping, 2nd edition, Nancy Margulies with Nusa Maal, 2002, Zephyr Press, Tucson, AZ