The Mind Map Book

How to Use Radiant Thinking to Maximize

Your Brain's Untapped Potential

Published by Penguin Group/Dutton 1993
ISBN 0-525-93904-0

Some notes made by Charles Cave for the benefit of the Creativity Web Page

Contents of this page

The disadvantages of standard notes

  1. They obscure key words. This prevents the brain from making appropriate associations between the key concepts.
  2. They make it difficult to remember. Monotonous single color notes are boring. Most notes look like lists.
  3. They waste time by encouraging or requiring unnecessary noting, reading and rereading unnecessary notes, and searching for key words.
  4. They fail to stimulate the brain creatively. Linear presentations prevent the brain from making associations, thus counteracting creativity and memory. Reading a list implies an `end' or `finish' whereas a mind map encourages the brain to build on existing thoughts and ideas.

Consider the problem of "What are some alternative uses for a paper clip"

If you started to write a list, you would become bored and would probably slow down. Alternatively, a mind map allows building on previous ideas, attributes, or stepping stone ideas.

Uses of Paper Clip Mind Map

Mind maps use pictures.

The reason why pictures are `worth a thousand words' is that they make use of a massive range of cortical skills: color, form, line, dimension, texture, visual rhythm and especially imagination - a word taken from the Latin imaginari, literally meaning `to picture mentally'.

Images are therefore often more evocative than words, more precise and potent in triggering a wide range of associations, thereby enhancing creative thinking and memory. So why do we bother taking notes without the benefit of images? Sadly, we have a modern emphasis on words as the primary vehicle of information.

Harnessing the full range of your cortical skills

Hierarchies and categories.

A classic study done in 1969 demonstrated the importance of hierarchies in an aid to memory. Generating ideas with a mind map is much easier than making lists, because key words or "Basic Ordering Ideas" can be used as triggers. Linear notes in the form of lists directly oppose the workings of the mind, in that they generate an idea and then deliberately cut it off from the preceding and following it.


Harnessing the brain's tendency to function in gestalts or wholes, allows the addition of blank lines to the key words on the Mind Map, enticing the brain to `fill in' the beckoning areas.

Once the brain realizes it can associate anything with anything else, it will almost instantaneously find associations, especially when given the trigger of an additional stimulus.

The Mind Map is based on the logic of association, not the logic of time (as in a list)

The Basic Ordering Ideas in any Mind Map are those words or images which are the simplest and most obvious ordering devices. They are the key concepts, gathering the greatest number of associations to themselves. A good way to find these BOIs is to ask:

Summary of the Mind Map Laws


1. Use emphasis

- Always use a central image
- Use images throughout your Mind Map
- Use three or more colors per central image
- Use dimension in images
- Use synaesthesia (the blending of the physical senses)
- Use variations of size of printing, line and image
- Use organized spacing
- Use appropriate spacing

2. Use Association

- Use arrows when you want to make connections within and across the branch pattern
- Use colors
- Use codes

3. Be Clear

- Use only one key word per line
- Print all words
- Print key words on lines
- Make line length equal to word length
- Connect lines to other lines
- Make the central lines thicker
- Make your boundaries `embrace' your branch outline
- Make your images as clear as possible
- Keep your paper placed horizontally in front of you
- Keep your printing as upright as possible

4. Develop a personal style


1 Use hierarchy
2 Use numerical order

The mnemonic mind map as a mirror of creativity.

Applying energy or power to memory produces a fertilization which results in creativity.

Mnemonic techniques involve the use of imagination and association in order to produce a new and memorable image.

Like memory, creative thinking is based on association and imagination. The aim is to link item A with item B, thus producing the new, innovative, far-from-the-norm idea we label `creative'.

A creative device combines two elements to project a third into the future, but the creative aim is to change or affect the future in some way.

Creative Thinking Mind Maps

  1. To explore all the creative possibilities of a given subject
  2. To clear the mind of previous assumptions about the subject, thus providing space for new creative thought
  3. To generate ideas that result in specific action being taken, or physical reality being created or changed.
  4. To encourage more consistent creative thinking
  5. To create new conceptual frameworks within which previous ideas can be reorganized.
  6. To capture and develop 'flashes' of insight when they occur.
  7. To plan creatively (Mind Map diaries with a yearly plan, monthly plan and daily plan maps)

Computer Mind Mapping

At the moment computer Mind Mapping cannot compete with the infinite visual variety, portability and `minimum tool requirement' of traditional Mind Mapping techniques. However the areas where computers can offer a significant improvement to personal productivity are the areas of automatic Mind Map generation; Mind Map editing; data storage and retrieval, text input and organization of data. The creation of many variations of the same Mind Map is also facilitated and accelerated.

Last updated: 4th June 2002