All 10 Different Types of Mind Map You Need to Know About

Last Updated:Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Mind mapping is a powerful tool used to organize information. And, there are different types of mind map suitable for various purposes - whether you're a student trying to make sense of study material or a professional juggling multiple projects at work.

Did you know you can have up to 60,000 thoughts per day? In this guide, we'll introduce you to 10 mind mapping techniques that can help you take control of your daily thought avalanche.

By the end, you'll know how to use mind maps to channel your thoughts, enhance your productivity, and supercharge your creativity.


How many mind map types are there?

Though the exact number can vary, there are generally recognized to be around ten primary types of mind maps. These include:

  • Tree map,

  • Flow map,

  • Dialogue map,

  • Spider map,

  • Multi-flow map,

  • Bubble map,

  • Double bubble map,

  • Tunnel timeline map,

  • Circle map,

  • Presentation map.

Each type is unique in its design and serves a specific purpose, ranging from brainstorming ideas, exploring relationships between concepts, and illustrating hierarchies to tracking complex processes.

Depending on the complexity of the information and the objective at hand, you may choose one type of map over another. In the following sections, we'll delve deeper into each of these types and provide examples of how they can be effectively used.

If you're still not familiar with the basics of mind mapping, we recommend reading our what is a mind map page first before exploring the different types of mind maps. And, if you’re already familiar with mind maps, let’s go on and dig deeper into these mind map examples!

Tree map

A tree map, as the name suggests, is a type of mind map that takes a hierarchical, tree-like structure. It starts with a central node, often representing a broad topic or concept, with branches extending out to more specific ideas or subtopics. 

Each branch can be further expanded, leading to even more detailed points, mirroring the structure of a tree with its trunk, branches, and twigs.

tree map

When to use tree maps?

Tree maps are particularly useful in organizing complex information into an easy-to-understand format. This type of mind map is beneficial for breaking down large projects into manageable tasks, outlining the chapters of a book, or studying a multifaceted subject.

For instance, a student could use a tree map to break down the elements of a historical event, starting with the event at the central node, and then branching out to causes, key figures, impacts, and other relevant topics.

Similarly, a project manager could use a tree map to outline project strategy and phases, tasks within those phases, and individual subtasks. The hierarchical nature of tree maps makes it easy to see the relationship and order of elements, providing a clear overview of complex topics or projects.

Flow map

A flow map is essentially a flowchart that presents a sequence of steps or stages. This mind map type highlights the progression or flow of ideas, tasks, or events. Typically, a flow map begins with a starting point, followed by a series of points or steps leading to a final conclusion or outcome.

flow map

When to use flow maps?

Flow mind maps types are excellent tools when dealing with processes, procedures, or events that occur in a defined sequence. They provide a linear pathway of understanding and are particularly useful in simplifying complex procedures and presenting a complex topic in a visual way appealing to the eye.

For example, in a business setting, an employee could use a flow map to outline the steps in a manufacturing process, with clear indications of the sequence and any dependencies between steps. 

Similarly, a teacher might use a flow map to illustrate the timeline of events in a historical period, clearly showing the progression and relationship between significant events.

In an academic context, a student could use a flow map to map out the plot of a novel or play, clearly showing the progression of events and their relationship to each other. The visual nature of flow maps makes it easy to understand complex sequences at a glance, providing a clear and organized overview.

Dialogue map

A dialogue map is a type of mind map that visually represents a conversation or a discussion between two or more participants. It captures the ideas, arguments, and counterarguments that arise during the conversation, linking them together to illustrate the flow of the dialogue. 

This type of mind maps tend to be useful in revealing the structure of complex discussions and helping participants understand the different perspectives involved.

dialogue map

When to use dialogue maps?

Dialogue maps are particularly beneficial in situations involving decision-making, brainstorming, or problem solving. They can help to ensure that all voices are heard and all opinions are taken into account.

In a business setting, a dialogue map could be used during a strategy meeting, capturing the different proposals and their supporting arguments, and linking them together in a way that clearly shows the structure of the discussion.

In an academic context, dialogue maps could be used to capture the discourse in a seminar or tutorial, helping students to understand the different points of view and their interconnections. 

For personal use, a dialogue map might be used to navigate a complicated family discussion, ensuring all perspectives are considered and understanding various viewpoints. In the photo above, a dialogue map is used to present a family discussion on an investment in a piano.

Spider map

A Spider map is another popular type of mind map that is characterized by its radiating nature. It typically starts with a central idea or theme, from which related subtopics branch out like the legs of a spider, hence the name. Each 'leg' or branch can then have its own smaller branches, representing related ideas or details. 

Spider maps are especially effective when exploring a central theme or concept in-depth, breaking it down into its components or related ideas. They're great for defining a specific topic, brainstorming ideas, or exploring the various aspects of a concept.

spider map

When to use spider maps?

For instance, in a business setting, a spider map could be used in a product development brainstorming session. The central idea could be the product concept, with each branch representing different aspects such as design, features, target market, and pricing.

Also, a student could use a spider map when studying a new topic. The central node could be the main subject, and each branch could describe a sub-topic or a related piece of information.

For personal use, a spider map can be used to visualize a personal goal or project. The central idea could be the goal itself, and the branches could define the steps needed to achieve it, the resources required, or potential challenges and their solutions.

Multi-flow map

A multi-flow map is an effective mind map used to analyze cause-and-effect relationships. It has multiple flows representing different causes or effects. 

The central idea or event is placed in the middle, with causes flowing to it on one side and effects flowing out from it on the other. This visual depiction allows for a comprehensive understanding of complex situations or events.

multi flow map

When to use multi-flow maps?

Let's take a business scenario as an example: imagine a company is facing a decrease in sales. In a multi-flow map, the central event would be 'Decrease in Sales.'

On the cause side, we can list various reasons like increased competition, outdated products, or poor marketing strategies. And on the effect side, we can outline potential consequences such as lower profits, layoffs, or the need for a new business strategy.

Basically, a multi-flow mind map is used to give us a complete picture of the situation and can be really helpful in problem-solving and decision-making processes.

Bubble map 

A bubble map is a type of mind map that is used mainly for describing through adjectives or adjective phrases. This map is most suited for brainstorming the qualities of a single topic. 

This mind map can be visualized like a central bubble surrounded by smaller bubbles, each describing a characteristic of the central theme. 

bubble map

When to use bubble mind maps?

For instance, let's imagine a scenario where need to plan a birthday party for a friend. 

In a bubble map, the concept of 'Birthday Party' would be at the center. Around this main idea, you could have several bubbles describing the various aspects of the party - 'Fun,' 'Surprising,' 'Colorful,' 'Musical,' 'Festive,' and 'Casual.' 

Each of these could then have further sub-bubbles elaborating on the ideas. This way, a bubble mind map can be used to help you organize and explore the characteristics of any single topic in depth.

Double bubble map

A double bubble mind map, as the name suggests, is a type of mind map that employs two central bubbles rather than one. These mind maps are widely used for comparing and contrasting two topics, ideas, or concepts, displaying the similarities and differences between them. 

You can think of this mind map as having two main bubbles in the center, each representing a different topic. Around them, there are smaller bubbles that provide more details about each topic. And to show their similarities, there are additional bubbles connecting the two main ones.

double bubble map

When to use a double bubble mind map?

As an example, consider comparing two vacation destinations - 'Hawaii' and 'Alaska.' The two central bubbles would represent these two locations. 

Surrounding 'Hawaii,' you might have bubbles like 'Tropical Climate,' 'Beautiful Beaches,' and 'Surfing.' Around 'Alaska,' you might have 'Cold Climate,' 'Mountains,' and 'Wildlife.' T

The bubbles in between, pointing out the similarities, could include 'Adventure Activities,' 'Natural Beauty,' or 'Tourist Destinations.' 

This way, a double bubble mind map can help us examine and contrast two topics in a structured, easy-to-understand format.

Tunnel timeline map

Tunnel timeline mind maps, often referred to as planning mind maps, are designed specifically to represent events or processes over time in a linear fashion and an easily digestible manner. 

This type of mind map is seen as a series of concentric circles or 'tunnels', each representing a different point in time, with the central point being the starting time. 

The 'tunnels' lead outward, indicating progression over time. Each tunnel can be filled with details related to the corresponding time period or step in a process.

tunnel timeline map

When to use a tunnel timeline map? 

A great example of its use would be to outline the events leading up to a historical moment. For instance, if we were exploring the events leading to the American Revolution, the central tunnel might contain '1763 - End of French and Indian War.' 

The outer tunnels could then include '1764 - Sugar Act,' '1765 - Stamp Act,' '1770 - Boston Massacre,' and so on, progressing all the way to '1775 - Start of Revolutionary War.' 

In this way, a tunnel timeline mind map helps us visualize sequential events or processes, providing a clear timeline of occurrences.

Circle mind maps

Circle mind maps, also known as clock or radial mind maps, are a type of mind map where information about a specific topic radiates out from the center, similar to the hands of a clock or the spokes of a wheel. 

This type of mind map is ideal for presentations or discussions where a theme in focus needs to be analyzed from multiple angles or perspectives. 

circle mind map

When to use circle mind maps? 

Let's take an example. Imagine you're brainstorming ideas for a social media marketing campaign. 

Picture a central circle labeled 'Social Media Campaign,' with lines radiating out to represent different platforms like 'Facebook,' 'Instagram,' 'Twitter,' and 'LinkedIn.' Each of these lines can then branch out into more specific strategies tailored for each platform.

A circle mind map gives you a complete view of a central concept, therefore allowing you to explore related ideas and build strategies in a comprehensive way.

Presentation mind map

Presentation maps are a variant of mind maps particularly useful for public speaking or professional presentations. 

They are designed to help you organize your ideas in a manner that aligns with the flow of your presentation, allowing you to communicate your thoughts effectively and coherently.

presentation mind map

When to use a presentation mind map? 

Imagine you're preparing a presentation on 'Sustainable Living.' Your main idea in the presentation map would be 'Sustainable Living.' 

From there, you can branch out to different sub-topics like 'Energy Conservation,' 'Sustainable Transport,' 'Waste Management,' and 'Organic Farming.' Each sub-topic can then lead to more specific points or examples related to it.

As you present, you can smoothly navigate from one branch to another, allowing ideas to flow naturally. The presentation map serves as your roadmap, guiding you from one point to the next, and ensuring that you cover all the necessary information in a structured and audience-friendly way.


Key takeaways about the different kinds of mind map

In conclusion, mind maps are an incredibly versatile tool for organizing and visualizing information. From the expansive circle maps to the structured presentation maps, different types of mind maps cater to various needs, be it brainstorming, problem-solving, planning, or presenting.

Even though we did our best to cover almost all types of mind maps, there still might be a few types that are not as widely used as the ones we presented, such as library mind maps or reference maps. So, we decided to leave them out.

If you're just starting out with mind maps and you're not sure which one is appropriate for your problem or you don't know how to draw one, consider using mind mapping software.

These digital tools not only offer numerous templates for different types of mind maps but also provide interactive features that enhance the process of idea generation and organization.

The software can be particularly helpful for creating complex mind maps, as they allow for easy editing and rearrangement of ideas. Remember, no matter what your goal is - there's a type of mind map that can help you achieve it!