Two formats for a spray diagram or mind map
Spray diagrams and mind maps are similar to look at but have
different functions. Both were developed by Tony Buzan (1974). They are included
together here because their form and structure are almost identical if not their
function. Spray diagrams are mainly used for representing the structure
of an argument, to encapsulate the relationships between the ideas of others
or for note taking. Mind maps, in contrast, are a little bit like brainstorming
on your own, where you are trying to get your own ideas out on paper in a relatively
unstructured way. They are a simple fast technique for getting ideas down without
being concerned by details of structure. They can show connections in trains
of thought (compare this with cognitive maps) and can indicate groupings between
ideas or thoughts. They are less useful when there are lots of loops or cross
connections to consider.
- central circle or blob for main topic;
- blobs for sub-topics (optional);
- words on the lines or at the ends of lines;
- branching sets of lines;
- Put the keyword or phrase in a circle.
- Related ideas expressed in one or a few words are attached to lines
radiating from this circle (a single-layer spray) or from secondary circles
creating fans (multiple-layer sprays).
- Words may be written along the lines or at the ends of lines (e.g. aaa,
bbb, ccc, etc.).
- The lines do not show directional links.
- Similar ideas on the radiating fans can be linked by loops.
colours can be used to group or highlight particular fans or clusters of ideas.
- Write down the central idea you wish to explore, leaving space all around
- Identify branches from that idea that you want to explore further. Write
them down around the central idea and link each to it with a straight line.
Keep going by considering each branch to see if further branches (ideas) link
- Start by working fairly freely and then look at the diagram to see whether
any of the strands are effectively the same idea.
- If you get stuck or lose the thread, start with a new central keyword and
create a subsidiary spray diagram rather than clutter up the original. Alternatively,
leave your spray diagram or mind map for a while to allow time for fresh thinking
before adding to it or redrawing it, combining or grouping similar ideas.