Mindmaps help you visualise your ideas onscreen, keeping track of related topics in a kind of virtual thinking out loud. We're using Mindjet’s MindManager 7.0 Pro (£199 inc VAT; mindjet.com/uk).
Step 1 Launch MindManager and choose File, New. The central topic field will be preselected. Type in a name for your map and press Enter. We're mapping out a structure for a company brochure. Preset styles and templates are available; should you need one, choose from the File, New menu.
Step 2 Next we'll add some topics and sub-topics for the areas we want our brochure to cover. Add topics and sub-topics to your map using the Topic drop-down menu or by pressing the Enter key where you want the topic field to appear. To add a sub-topic, press the Insert key or Ctrl, Enter.
Step 3 Type in topic names in the same way as you typed the central topic: click within each field to name it. If necessary, you can copy-and-paste text from other applications. To edit the text later, click on the box to select it, then click again to start editing. You can drag the topic dialog boxes around the screen at any point.
Step 4 Keep topic entries brief. If your topic runs over several lines, press Shift and Enter to manually add a line break. Formatting isn't MindManager's strong point. To force text to wrap over two or more lines, you can drag the right side of the topic box inwards to reduce the width of the box.
Step 5 You may wish to include floating (or unrelated) topics. Simply click on the background and start typing – you needn't press Enter to create a topic field. You can attach a sub-topic to your floating topic at a later stage. Dragging a topic on top of another will link the two.
Step 6 You can add Callout Topics to existing topics. These provide extra information or comment, and can be used to label relationship lines between topics. First, click on the topic box, then click on the Callout icon – it looks like a cartoon speech bubble – located on the Insert tab.
Step 7 Create relationships between topics by plotting a relationship line between them. Click on the red dotted line icon in the Insert section of the Home tab. Click on the first topic, then the related one. A relationship line will appear; use the handles to change how it links the two topics.
Step 8 To delete one or more topics, select the topics to be removed and press Delete. This will remove a topic and all its sub-topics from the map. To remove a main topic but retain the sub-topics, right-click on the topic and choose Remove Topic. To copy a topic, press Ctrl as you drop it in its new place on your mindmap.
Step 9 First-time users may find it more straightforward to view the map in a linear format. To navigate your map in such a way, click on the View tab. Then, under the Document Views tab, select the Outline view. This will show your map in a far more familiar, easy-to-read format.
Step 10 Your completed mindmap will provide a visual representation of tasks you need to perform. We've used our map to plan the contents of our company brochure, but yours can be as complex or as simple as you wish. Either way, you'll have a clear view of what needs to be done next and of the overall structure of your project.