How to Make a Mind Map With PowerPoint

The visual format of a mind map helps you brainstorm, organize and clarify ideas in a flexible, interactive way that also improves recall. You don't need a pen and paper or a special software program to generate a mind map. Use the features of PowerPoint 2013 to make a mind map and take advantage of PowerPoint's added features to apply animation effects, present your ideas to a group and save a template you can reuse if you frequently make these creative diagrams.

mind map on blackboard
Mind maps typically display a central primary concept with branches for related topics.
credit: marekuliasz/iStock/Getty Images

Start With SmartArt

For a basic mind map, use a SmartArt diagram. Select the "Insert" tab and click "SmartArt" to open the SmartArt Graphics dialog. Choose "Cycle," click on the "Radial Cluster" diagram and click "OK" to open a radial cluster SmartArt graphic on the slide. Radial clusters are used to show information relevant to a central theme. You can add up to seven second-level shapes surrounding the primary object. Customize the appearance of the mind map by selecting the diagram and using features on the SmartArt Tools Design tab, such as colors and styles.

Use Shapes Instead

For a more detailed mind map, draw shapes and add connector lines. Click a shape in the Shapes gallery on the Home tab or select the "Insert" tab, click "Shapes" and choose the shape you want to use. Click on the center of the slide to draw it there. A quick way to add more of the same shape is to press the "Ctrl" key, click on the shape and drag a new one wherever you want it. Make the map by selecting lines from the Shapes gallery and drawing them to connect the shapes on the slide.

Animate Your Ideas

PowerPoint's animation tools allow you to animate individual shapes, even when they are part of a SmartArt graphic. If using a SmartArt, select the diagram, click the "Format" tab and choose "Ungroup" to animate each shape individually. Click on the first shape you want to animate, click the "Animations" tab and choose the animation you want to apply. Then click "Animation Painter" and select the next shape to animate. Repeat until you have applied the animation to all the shapes. Click "Animation Pane" to access other animation settings, such as timing.

Turn it into a Template

Before adding text to the mind map, save it as a template to use any time you need it. Select the "File" tab and click "Save As." Click "Browse" under Save and enter a file name in the File name box. Choose "PowerPoint Template (.potx)" in the Save as Type list and click Save. To use the template again, select the "File" tab and click "New." Select "My Templates," click on the mind map template you saved and click "OK" to open it.