Google Docs Mind Map Blog Feature

How to Make a Google Docs Mind Map: A Step-by-Step Guide

A growing body of research suggests that visual cues help us memorize stuff. Many different parts of our brains are involved in processing visual data, leading to improved retrieval and retention of information.

So if you’re trying to remember something important, draw it out! 🖼️

That’s why mind maps have become so popular. They make complex concepts more engaging and easier to grasp and memorize. And the best part is—you can build them with tools you’re already familiar with in no time!

Our guide will show you how to make a mind map in Google Docs in just a few simple steps. We’ll also shed light on some alternative apps to help you create mind maps like a pro! 🧠

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What Is a Mind Map?

ClickUp Mind Maps
Plan and organize projects, ideas, or existing tasks in ClickUp for the ultimate visual outline

A mind map is a diagram that allows you to visualize complex concepts and related ideas. You can use it in various contexts, including:

  • Brainstorming sessions
  • Analyzing processes and workflows
  • Teaching and presentations
  • Learning, memorizing, and information processing

The mind map’s structure resembles a bird’s eye view of a tree. 🌳

The root represents the central concept or topic. It has multiple branches, symbolizing the accompanying ideas or associations. The tree can branch out as far as you want as long as it serves its purpose—illustrating your thought process.

Mind maps are similar to concept maps.

Concept Map Template by ClickUp
Draw connections to several interconnected ideas in your concept map to bring everything together in one visual

They are both frameworks that help you envision thought processes. The only difference is that a mind map focuses on a single, central idea, while concept maps can visualize many interconnected ones.

Mind maps couldn’t be easier to make. You only need a pen, paper, and some creativity. You can also create these maps in Microsoft Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, Google Docs, and many other similar programs. 

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How to Make a Mind Map in Google Docs in 5 Simple Steps

Although limited in functionalities, Google Docs is an accessible and intuitive tool. You can create decent mind maps and other charts without much effort. 

To get started on how to make a mind map in Google Docs, create a new blank page document, and stick to the following steps:

Step 1: Open the drawing panel

New Drawing
Inserting a new drawing in Google Docs

Go to Insert > Drawing > New to open the drawing panel and create your first Google Docs mind map. 

Step 2: Insert and add shapes to represent nodes 

Shapes
Add shapes to represent topics and subtopics

For starters, choose a shape icon and add it to the drawing. Start with the central topic or idea and move on to the sub-topics. 

After selecting the shape, you can resize it by dragging the blue-colored corner points. You’ll also reveal the formatting options, such as border width and color. Play with different shapes and colors to make subtopic layers easily recognizable. 

Move shapes around by dragging and dropping them on the board. As you do that, colored lines will appear on the drawing to help you position the forms at the center or symmetrically to other elements.

Step 3: Add the text

Text
Using the text box to name topics and subtopics

Insert and position the text box as you would with any other shape. The colored guidelines will show up once again to help you place the text box at the center of the drawing. Type in the text, but make it short and sweet as you have limited space.

Step 4: Add arrows between nodes

Connectors
Connect shapes with arrows

Select the connector option, choose the Arrow, and click on the drawing board to insert it into your up-and-coming mind mapping view. Drag the sides of the arrow to point it to an appropriate shape.

Aligning arrows
Align arrows with the provided points on the shapes to maintain their relationship regardless of position

Make sure the arrow points in the right direction and connects the purple-colored dots on the surrounding shapes. Linking shapes this way ensures their relationships remain intact even when you move them around the map.

If you want to add more nodes, but you’ve run out of room, click and drag to select all elements, then resize and move them. Keep in mind that the font size will remain unchanged, which will likely mess up your mind map in Google. You must manually reduce the size by selecting all the text boxes again.

Step 5: Save your Google Docs mind map

Saving
Save your drawing

Once you’re finished, choose the Save and Close option on the top right of the panel. The drawing will be embedded in the doc you previously opened—click on it to display the Edit option and page positioning controls.

Google Docs will auto-save the drawing for you after each edit. You can also see the version history by selecting the option from the Actions dropdown menu.

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Drawbacks of Using Google Docs as a Mind Mapping Tool

Google Docs is a simple and useful tool that gets the job done. Still, when it comes to a mind mapping tool, it pales in comparison to other, more comprehensive software, such as ClickUp. Here are some shortcomings to consider:

  • Basic features: Google Docs has few formatting features. It also lacks more specific functionalities of specialized mind-mapping software
  • Limited flexibility: The drawing board doesn’t provide enough space for larger, more complex mind maps. Besides the shape, border, font, and color scheme, you don’t get many other customization options with Google Docs. That leaves little room for creativity and often results in bland designs
  • Lack of automation: Making a mind map in Google Docs often feels inefficient and requires much manual work. Rearranging the map is not intuitive as you must manually reposition objects to align them. Also, anyone who’s ever used Docs or Word knows how frustrating it is to create and add images within open Google Docs
  • Too basic Google Docs Templates: Working off templates is a great idea—but Google’s add-ons for templates aren’t as powerful and helpful as some other solutions—especially when you need to add a central node and highlight key takeaways when you create a mind map
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5 Helpful Mind Map Templates To Get You Started

With so many ready-made templates at your disposal today, there’s no need to create mind-mapping docs from scratch. Use one of these five templates and take advantage of their captivating and intuitive diagrams! 

1. ClickUp Simple Mind Map Template

ClickUp Simple Mind Map Template
Collect and organize your thoughts with the ClickUp Simple Mind Map Template

The ClickUp Simple Mind Map Template is a great introduction to the world of mind maps. Don’t let its minimalistic design fool you. It comes packed with features for effectively visualizing any idea or concept that comes your way. 👀

ClickUp offers two types of mind map modes:

  1. Blank mode: The nodes are in the form of editable shapes, making the mode perfect for ideation
  2. Task mode: Nodes are interactive tasks you can assign and manage in the template’s List or Board View. Clicking on them opens the Task Tray, allowing you to add attachments, make comments, and track time

Regardless of the mode, creating and editing mind maps is as simple as it gets to detail complex ideas. Click on the plus and minus symbols to expand, minimize, and add new subtopics on the drawing page.

2. ClickUp Bubble Map Template

ClickUp Bubble Map Template
Use the ClickUp Bubble Map Template in Whiteboard View to brainstorm and unleash your creativity

If you need more flexibility, check out the ClickUp Bubble Map Template. It’s a mind map template in a ClickUp Whiteboard , giving you access to a wealth of creativity tools!

Besides customizing the text, shapes, and color scheme, you can:

  • Connect a lines icon to specific shapes
  • Add or import images, videos, and text in your preferred font style
  • Embed website cards and documents 

Bonus: Check out our top 10 Sophisticated Bubble Map Templates for Visualizing and Brainstorming

The template is the perfect collaboration tool, allowing you to easily analyze any issue and view changes in real-time. You can also turn nodes into actionable tasks, which you can assign, comment on, and track.

3. ClickUp Project Mapping Template

ClickUp Project Mapping Template
The ClickUp Project Mapping Template helps you handle projects with ease, no matter their complexity

The ClickUp Project Mapping Template makes any project more manageable. Besides mapping, it allows you to track all tasks, participants, equipment, and other elements crucial to your project’s success. 🏆

It comes with two views:

  1. Ideas List View: Helps you plan, allocate, and oversee all project-related work
  2. Project Plan Mind Map View: Enables visual project management and planning

To use the template, first list all your tasks and subtasks in List View. Add due dates, assignees, attachments, and anything else your teammates may need to complete the tasks. 

Use the custom fields to provide more information about each task, such as priority and status. The listed tasks will appear as nodes in Mind Map View based on the hierarchy you created.

4. Team Project Mind Map Template by Docs & Slides

Team Project Mind Map Template by Docs & Slides
Use this vibrant Team Project Mind Map Template by Docs & Slides to organize work for your team

The Team Project Mind Map Template by Docs & Slides is a prime example of a mind map template in Google Docs. Unlike the ones you can create in the drawing panel, it occupies the entire page, giving you more space to elaborate your ideas. It’s also beautifully designed, using colorful graphics for a more striking visual effect.

To create a mind map with this template and start editing, open it in Google Docs. Go to Menu > File > Make a Copy to create and edit your personal version.

5. Time Management Mind Map Template by Docs & Slides

Time Management Mind Map Template by Docs & Slides
Time management doesn’t have to be boring and difficult thanks to the Time Management Mind Map Template by Docs & Slides

Time management is often a difficult undertaking. It requires strong organization and prioritization skills. You must balance multiple responsibilities and deadlines while adapting to unexpected changes and maintaining productivity. ⚖️

Luckily, with a tool such as this Time Management Mind Map Template by Docs & Slides, you can do all that in a fun and colorful way. This Google Docs mind map can be applied to various scenarios, be it business or personal.

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ClickUp—A Better Way to Create a Mind Map

Using Google Docs to make a mind map may be convenient in some cases, but it’s far from ideal. Due to its limited functionalities and unattractive design elements, it doesn’t give you much to work with.

ClickUp Mind Maps, allow you to create visually engaging and functional mind maps you can use in various scenarios, from simple brainstorming sessions to reinventing elaborate business processes.

The whole diagram creation process is streamlined for your convenience. It’s also more flexible and intuitive than in creating a mind map in Google Docs—all features are only a click or drag-and-drop away.

And if you get stuck, you can always turn to ClickUp University for help!

Being an all-in-one project management tool, ClickUp offers much more than creating a mind map! It allows access to a treasure chest of specialized features and customization options to help you brainstorm, plan, and collaborate. 🤝

Gather all your data in one place, automate repetitive processes, and manage every step of a project from a single app! Still set on using Docs?

No worries, you can import a Google Docs mind map straight into your ClickUp workspace. Once you do, incorporate the map into your workflow and use it along with ClickUp’s many valuable features!

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