How to create a mind map in Word (with elements and benefits)

Updated 9 July 2022

If you're looking to explore a concept more in-depth, creating a mind map can help you structure information, helping you better analyse, understand, and recall the ideas. A mind map is a diagram that helps represent ideas and thoughts about a particular concept. Learning how to create a mind map in Word can help you brainstorm and implement ideas. In this article, we provide a step-by-step guide for creating a mind map in Word, look at the elements of creating a mind map, discuss the benefits and explain when to use one.

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How to create a mind map in Word

Consider using the following steps to learn how to create a mind map in Word:

1. Open Word

Launch Microsoft Word on your desktop or laptop and select a new document. To create a mind map, you can opt for basic shapes or select the SmartArt graphics in the illustration group on the Insert tab. You may use circles or rectangles to represent the subtopics or central topic, and you may also use text boxes to label the shapes. Note that there is no mind map Microsoft Word template.

2. Draft out a mind map

Before laying out the mid map, consider having the main topic in mind. You may also identify related topics and how they relate to each other. To design the mind map in Word, you may use the following options:

Using basic shapes

In the new document, find the 'insert tab' and click on the 'drop-down menu' under shapes to find several shapes, including lines, basic shapes, rectangles, flow charts and block arrows. Select the shape you prefer for your main topic and draw it on the page. To create a map, keep selecting and arranging varying shapes around the central topic. Once you draw the shapes, you can use lines to represent relationships between varying topics.

Using SmartArt graphics

Next to the shapes in the Insert tab is the SmartArt icon. Click on this icon and wait for a pop-up window. The pop-up window contains different types of charts that you can use. Click on the 'relationship' icon, then select 'radial cluster' followed by the 'OK' icon to insert the mind map on your Word page.

3. Format and customise

When you complete creating the mind map, you can click on the selected shape, followed by the Format tab to edit. This is if you want to change certain properties of the shape. You may also use the Insert tab in the Home tab to customise the mind map.

Elements that help in creating an effective mind map

Here are some of the elements that you can use to make an effective mind map:

  • Central idea: This is the main reason for creating the mind map. It represents the main topic you want to explore when creating a mind map.

  • Branches: These are the sub-topics that emanate from the central idea. Branches help in adding more information or details about the main topic.

  • Keywords: In mind maps, the concept gets simplified by using keywords. The keywords are the ideas behind each branch in the map.

  • Images: Images or visual elements help illustrate connections in an MS mind map.

  • Colour: Each connection in a mind map can get marked with a corresponding colour, which helps improve memory recollection.

Benefits of mind mapping

Here are some of the benefits of mind mapping:

Engages the mind

Mind mapping is beneficial because it engages your mind, igniting your mental powers. It helps you think critically about a specific subject or concept and how ideas are connected. It's an excellent way to develop your analytical skills. Mind mapping may also help you improve your attention to detail skills because you often require dividing the project into smaller tasks and topics without losing focus on the primary goal.

Improves your memory

Mind mapping can help you recall information and details about your idea more easily. It gives you a physical copy of your ideas through images and structure, which are much easier to remember. You may even use colour to differentiate varying ideas, helping you remember ideas.

It helps you address complex tasks

Among other individuals in leadership, project managers often identify and delegate complex tasks. A mind map can allow you to list down all the tasks and problems that require solving without worrying about how they are related or connected. As you write, you can identify the main tasks and subtasks, allowing you to know how to address these tasks and how to delegate some of them.

Improves creativity

Mind mapping can be a helpful tool when handling creative projects. You can start with a broad idea or concept at the centre of the mind map and then create the rest of the structure as you go along. Mind mapping can help you create new concepts if you allow free thought.

Related: Best practices to boost your creative thinking skills

Aids analysis and review

Mind maps have a structure where branches connect the central topic to the sub-topics. You can easily scan through the mind map to get a quick overview, unlike where you require reading line-by-line to understand a concept. This makes it relatively easy to understand, analyse and review. Images and colours can also make it easier to review the information presented in the mind map.

When to use a mind map

Here are some great ways to use a mind map to improve your productivity:

Generating ideas

You can use mind mapping to generate new ideas during a brainstorming session. Brainstorming is the generating of ideas, often done in groups. You can use a mind map to provide a visual representation of ideas. It becomes easier to think of inter-related information with a central idea.

Taking notes

If you like taking notes during a meeting or a lecture, mind mapping may be ideal for you. When you focus on taking notes, you may miss out on important information. Mind mapping can help you remain present and remember and understand information because you only write a few things as opposed to writing everything the presenter says. You can use colour and keywords to help you recall information. Mind maps can help you retain the information you learn, making it easy to use in the future.

Managing projects

Mind maps can be effective tools for project management. A mind map can help you organise and plan your project. It may also help you define your project, considering the team members, resources and stakeholders necessary to complete the project. You can use the map to define how the project relates to its mission, goals and values, making it easier to get approval. You may also examine all tasks and processes involved in a project, allowing you to delegate and prioritise tasks.

Related: Guide to project management frameworks (plus types)

Solving problems

If you're looking to solve a certain problem and develop viable solutions, you can consider using mind maps. Mind mapping allows you to write down everything that might bring confusion when a problem arises. Using a mind map can help bring you into a relaxed mental state, making it easy for you to focus on the problem. You can critically analyse the problem, starting from its root cause, making it easier to develop actionable steps and solutions.

Related: Problem-solving skills: definitions and examples

Making presentations

If your work involves making presentations, mind maps can help you better communicate new projects and complex ideas to your team. Often, long texts can be difficult to comprehend. Using mind maps can help your colleagues understand and comprehend the information you give much easily, especially because of the visual representation. You can incorporate pictures and colour to mark important details on your presentation, making it easier for the audience to recall them.

Planning events

If you're creating an event, a mind map can help you create a successful event. As the event becomes larger, the more components you require, which can be difficult to remember or manage. Using a mind map, you can place the event at the centre and the branches' various planning elements and components. For example, if you're preparing a birthday party, you can situate the birthday itself in the centre of the map, with branches for catering, venue and guests.

Related: Guide: what is strategic planning? (With benefits and steps)


Consider using mind maps to create drafts of your main notes. You can identify core concepts in the study material and then situate the underlying points that support the main topic as the branches. This makes it easy to recall and understand the information you study. You may also use mind maps to help you prepare for exams because you might grasp the information by just scanning through the mind map rather than reading a whole text.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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