How to Use Concept Mapping for Writing

by Lisa Miller, Demand Media

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.

Step 1

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.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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

Step 4

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.

Step 5

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.

Step 6

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.

Step 7

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.


  • 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.

About the Author

Lisa Miller has been a freelance writer since 2008. Her work can be found on Associated Content and eHow. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Missouri Southern State University, and is currently a full-time graduate student working on her master's in experimental psychology.

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