Mind Mapping

Create mind maps easily in Lucidchart with the mind map shape library!

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The mind map shape library is a premium feature available to Professional, Team, and Enterprise accounts. Please see our pricing page or contact our sales team for more details.

A mind map, or concept map, is a hierarchical diagram used to visualize the components of a theme or idea. The central theme or idea of the mind map is represented by a shape that lives at the center of the diagram, and the lines that stem from this shape represent offshoots of the central idea.

Here is some helpful nomenclature to keep in mind when working with mind maps.
  • Nodes are shapes, often containing text, that represent pieces of information in a mind map.
  • The root or base is the node at the center of a mind map, representing a central theme or idea.
  • The branches of a mind map refer to each of the node-line offshoots that make up the diagram.
  • Nodes are connected by lines in parent-child relationships, in which the parent is the node that is closer to the mind map root and the child is the node that is further from the root. Nodes that are children of the same parent are referred to as siblings.
  • A level of a mind map refers to all of the shapes that have an equal amount of degrees of separation from the root. By default, all nodes that are at the same level in a Lucidchart mind map will be the same color.
Lucidchart offers a variety of mind map templates that you can build from. To create a mind map from a template, follow these steps:
  1. From your docs page, click the triangle icon on the right side of the + Document button to open the template gallery.

    access_templates.png
  2. Select Mind Map from the left sidebar.

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  3. Click on a template thumbnail to preview and learn more about it.

    preview_a_template.png
  4. Click Create Document. The template will open as a new document in the Lucidchart editor.
To add the mind map shape library to your document, follow these steps:
  1. From the Lucidchart editor, press M on your keypad or click Shapes to open the shape manager.

    open_shape_manager.png
  2. Scroll through the shape library list or search for "mind mapping," then check the box next to Mind Mapping.

    add_mind_map_shape_library.png

    The mind map shape library will be saved to your toolbox.

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Once you have added the mind map shape library to your toolbox, you can easily start building your mind map from scratch by following these steps:
  1. Drag a shape out of the mind map shape library and drop it anywhere on your canvas. This shape will become the root of your mind map.
  2. Type the central idea or theme of your mind map into the shape, then press enter.

    mind_map_add_first_shape.png
  3. Press tab on your keypad to add another shape to your mind map that will appear as an offshoot of the original shape. Type a sub-idea into this shape, then press enter.

    mind_map_second_shape.png
  4. Press tab to create an offshoot of the second shape, or press enter to create a sibling to that shape - another child of the original shape. Type a note or sub-idea into this shape, then press enter.
  5. Repeat step 4 as needed until you have built out your mind map.

    mind_map_complete.png
The color of every new shape added to your mind map will be set automatically based on the level colors shown in the advanced shape bar.

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You can select different colors to correspond with each level from the advanced shape bar at the top of the editor.

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To modify the color of an individual node, select it and use the fill color setting in the properties bar.
Click and drag a node to move it along with all of its children nodes and branches. You can resize and rotate mind map shapes the same way you would shapes from other shape libraries.

Click Auto Layout in the advanced shape bar to automatically adjust the layout of your diagram so that the branches are evenly spaced.

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Use the following hotkeys to build and navigate your mind map.

Tab: Create child idea

Enter: Create sibling idea

Arrow Keys: Navigate through your mind map

Z: Collapse or expand children of a parent node
  • You can also accomplish this by clicking the - symbol in the bottom right corner of the node
  • Note: Children branches cannot be expanded or collapsed if the document is in view-only or comment-only mode.

If you have an existing outline you can easily turn it into a Lucidchart mind map. To generate a mind map from an outline, follow these steps:

  1. Save your outline as a .txt file.
  2. Click Import from the Mind Map shape library.

    import_mind_map_1.png
  3. Choose your .txt file or copy and paste your outline into the text box.

    import_mind_map_2.png
  4. Click Import Mind Map
Note: Lucidchart recognizes tab or space indented outlines. We recommend choosing one indentation style for a single outline. See Formatting below for more information.

Lucidchart quickly converts any mind map into a Plain Text or HTML text outline. To export your mind map text, follow these steps:

  1. Click Export from the Mind Map shape library.

    export_mind_map_1.png
  2. Select your desired outline formatting (Plain Text or HTML).

    export_mind_map_plain_tech.png

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  3. Highlight the text and use Command-C to copy the outline to your clipboard.

Lucidchart recognizes tab or space indented outlines. We recommend choosing one indentation style for a single outline. Below are examples of both styles that you can copy (Ctrl or Command + C) and paste (Ctrl or Command + V) to test.

Tab indented mind map outline

Root

     Parent 1

          Child 1a

          Child 1b

     Parent 2

          Child 2a

          Child 2b

Space indented mind map outline

Root

 Parent 1

  Child 1a

  Child 1b

 Parent 2

  Child 2a

  Child 2b

Sample .txt file

Import problems

  • Bulleted or numbered lists: Currently, Lucidchart does not support outlines with bulleted or numbered lists. Your outline must use either Tab or single space indentation.
  • Copying from Google Docs: There is an odd behavior with Google Docs where Tab separators must be added to each line as you are building your outline. If you create a list and then indent lines of text with the Tab button afterward, Lucidchart registers those lines of text as still being on the previous indentation. To add indentation after creating a list, use the spacebar.

Export problems

  • Multiple parents: One idea can be connected to multiple parents. However, when the file is exported to a text outline, Lucidchart only attaches the idea to one of the parents.
  • Multiple mind maps: If there are multiple mind maps on one page, Lucidchart will generate a separate outline for each mind map and they will all appear in the export text box.
  • Non-mind map shapes: It is possible to draw lines from mind map shapes and connect them to non-mind map shapes. However, non-mind map shapes will not appear in the text outline.
Why is one of the shapes in my mind map bold?
When you drag out the first shape of your mind map, Lucidchart will automatically make its border thicker than the other shapes to signify that it is the root shape of your mind map. It is not possible to remove the boldness from this shape.

Why does the entire mind map move when I move one shape?
When you move a shape of your mind map, all of its children will move with it. Your entire mind map will move if you drag it from the root shape.

Can I move a shape without moving its children?
To move a shape without moving its children, you will first need to hide the children. You can do this by pressing “z” on your keypad.

Lucidchart’s flexible mind mapping feature empowers you to organize your ideas through visualizations. Import an existing text outline to start, or use keyboard shortcuts and create a mind map as you brainstorm. Either way, mind maps allow you to keep an organized record as your creativity flows.

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As you probably already know, you can use mind maps for anything from brainstorming a screenplay to planning a business. Mind maps are especially useful for documenting stream-of-consciousness thinking because they allow you to connect your thoughts as you jump back and forth from one idea to another. Instead of taking pictures of a messy whiteboard or stuffing sticky notes into a folder, Lucidchart’s intuitive canvas lets you skip the mess and make as many changes as you want. Brainstorm with collaborators in real time or publish your mind map on a blog. Regardless of what you choose to do with your mind map, revision history ensures you no don’t need to worry about fleeting ideas or lost work!

The template above demonstrates how mind maps can also help you organize the various components that make up a comprehensive digital marketing campaign. Large marketing campaigns – and most business projects – require collaboration across various teams. Yet, sometimes it’s hard to remember all the departments, teams, and stakeholders, especially at the beginning of a project. This template demonstrates how mind maps help you can break down daunting projects or tasks to better understand each individual component.

Let’s say you need to plan a budget for your new business venture, for example. You’ve secured investors and feel excited to begin, but you’re still unsure how to divide the business budget between departments. Instead of arbitrarily assigning amounts to departments, you can use a mind map to break down each team in the department, as shown above.

Digital_Marketing_Mind_Map__1_.png

For example, you can see that content marketing, paid search, social media, email marketing, affiliate marketing, and SEO all fall under the “digital marketing” umbrella. Although they’re similar, each of these teams has a different headcount and resources they need to succeed. Mind maps let you parse out the details so that you understand each department’s needs in context. Maybe you forgot about Snapchat ads when you began brainstorming marketing techniques. By breaking down the “social media” umbrella into specific platforms, you can catch silly mistakes and better estimate exactly how much money the marketing department needs each quarter.

If you want to add complexity to your mind maps, consider using conditional formatting and icon set on your mind map to save time when formatting your document. You can set simple rules such as “if a shape text contains the word ‘digital’ change the shape color to blue,” or you can link spreadsheet data to your mind map and create complex rules that react to changes in a live data source like Google Sheets.

Once you’re done, easily transform your mind map into a professional slide deck with Lucidchart’s presentation mode. If you’d rather switch your mind map back into a text outline, you can also export your mind map.

Click here to use the digital marketing mind map explained in this section, or browse additional mind map templates here!



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