The Writing Center

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The Writing Center

Library Technology Center


Mind Maps and Outlining

Creating mind maps is a method of brainstorming to help develop and/or organize ideas. It can be used as a step before creating an outline. Here is how some people dive into making a mind map:

  1. Begin with a circle in the middle of the paper. Write the main subject in that circle.


  1. Draw a few circles away from the center circle, and link the sub-circles to the main circle. Fill the sub-circles in with various aspects of the main subject you want to discuss. Don’t worry too much about how good the sub-topics are—just let your ideas spill onto the paper.

  1. Add more little circles off of the sub-circles (sub-sub circles), and add or delete any circles on any level (except the main circle in the middle) as you narrow your focus

    Parent involvement


School involvement


More awareness

  1. After that, consider coloring the sub-circles in different highlighter colors. As you research the topic, highlight the articles directly with colors that fit the sub-circles, OR write notes on index cards and mark each with a corresponding color. For example, if the sub-circle “Types of Bullying” is highlighted yellow, you would highlight the following sentence yellow in your article or on your note card: “Psychologist Margaret Brown Suggests that cyber stalkers often post false information about the victim on sites shared by the victim’s acquaintances.”

  2. Once the mind map session is complete, it is a piece of cake to create an outline. Detailed outlines make writing the paper a lot easier for most writers; just make sure each paragraph has only one topic sentence, clearly stating the main point. Other sentences in the paragraph should be related to that topic only. The thesis(the main point of the entire paper) should be easy to detect in the introduction. Below is one option for using the mind map to create an outline.


  1. Introduction—Thesis: It is possible to prevent bullying if enough people get involved

  2. Types of Bullying

A. Physical

B. Verbal/Emotional

C. Cyber

  1. Common Characteristics of Bullies

A. They have been bullied themselves

B. Unstable family situations

C. Gang involvement

D. Demographics

1. Male vs. Female

2. Race

3. Economic status

4. Geographic locations

5. Age

  1. Methods of Preventing Bullying

A. Parental involvement

B. School involvement

1. More supervision (recess and lunchroom)

2. Educate all students on the topic

a. Consequences are clearly written

b. Increased awareness

3. Zero tolerance at some schools

  1. Conclusion—Teaching tolerance very young is key to preventing bullying/list steps to take in order to prevent or diminish bullying.

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