Large mind maps

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Envisage this at a size that would be legible. Yet this was a cut down, end-of-project map to present a proposed solution.

Large mind maps can be a special problem. They can arise when Organizing information, Organizing web links / feeds, Organizing computer files, Organizing social media links, or Managing medium to large projects.

In business, regular mind mappers often find that mind maps for significant projects quickly become too large for convenient handling on-screen. They can easily outgrow your printer as well – even an A2 printer (about 16½” x 23½”).

There are several approaches to the problem of practical handling of large mind maps, and which is appropriate depends on the conditions.

Paper maps[edit]

If it is a map on paper, there are few alternatives, but they are obvious:

  • stick more pieces of paper to the edge.
  • redraw on a larger sheet. (Re-drawing nearly always stimulates the thinking process and results in an improved map. But if you are following Buzan’s rules and using color, emphasis, imagination and illustrations, re-drawing can be a painful choice.)
  • always use a fine pen and draw/write small images and lettering.
  • do a rough draft and then clean it up by re-drawing once the overall shape is known and the final one can be more carefuly planned.
  • move to software and make the map into a computer or web-based one.

Computer maps[edit]

If you make your maps with computer software, significant problems of large maps are:

When you keep the project in one map, you…
  • …can’t take in the whole view at once, and get the whole picture.
  • …need to scroll round or contract and expand branches.
  • …may reach the physical map size or scrolling limit of some software.
  • …some web-based software limits you to a small, fixed portion of your screen, no matter how big it is.
When you break the map up into multiple, linked maps, you…
  • …are even less able to get the whole picture.
  • …cannot perform text searches outside the present map.

If the large map is already on a computer some solutions are to…

  • get a larger, higher resolution screen. Not always practical, and even then only a solution up to a point.
  • “fold” the branches so that only the ones that interest you at this moment are showing.
  • break the large map into several smaller maps and link them to a higher level controlling map.
  • use ‘moveable center’ mind map software like The Brain or 3D Topicscape.
  • use a product that employs the 3D approach, like 3D Topicscape. The zoom and fly capabilities allow much more to be seen than a 2D map.

For free information about the hundreds of
visual thinking tools available, visit the

Visual Thinking Center