How to Use Concept Mapping for Writing

by Lisa Miller

Concept mapping is a method of organizing thoughts in a manner which allows them to flow clearly and logically. Occasionally referred to as clusters or concept webs, concept maps include a central theme or topic and related branches showing how the ideas are connected. Writers often find concept mapping to be a powerful tool in generating and categorizing ideas in a logical, hierarchical fashion. Often the use of concept maps allows writers to work more quickly and efficiently.

Decide what general topic or title you will be writing about and print it in the center of a piece of paper. Draw a circle or square around it.

Consider ideas related to the general topic (a process called "brainstorming") and write them on a separate piece of paper. Do not worry about the order of the ideas; simply generate as many as you can.

Select the words and phrases that fit in best with the general topic and support the main ideas of your writing.

Write these words or phrases on your paper around the circle or square that contains your topic. Circle them or draw a square around them, and connect them to the main topic with a line.

Repeat the process of brainstorming and branching for each of the subtopics you have circled on your paper until you have enough ideas and information to write about.

Use the concept map to organize your writing. Ideas which are closely connected on your concept map should be closely connected in your writing as well.

Refer to your concept map often while writing, as it is a visual representation of the points you wish to make and how they are connected.

Tips

  • Words near the center of the concept map should represent more general information and ideas, while words toward the edge of the map should represent more specific information.
  • There is no correct number of branches or ideas that must be included in a concept map; the goal is to generate and categorize ideas, not to adhere to a strict structure.

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