Menu Planning with MindMaple

It’s that time of year again. Summer is winding down, we’re getting our last few heatwaves before the leaves begin to turn and the temperature drops to a moderate degree. With Labor Day rapidly approaching, many of us will attend and host end-of-summer parties with friends and families.

I used MindMaple to build a menu and help narrow down my dish options. By inputting about 15 different appetizers, drinks, entrees and desserts, I was able to make my final selections easily.

Download the template below for some inspiration (or just to grab these amazing recipes). Photos are property of their respective owners, who have been linked in the template for your reference.

Color Code Your Mind Maps

Mind mapping itself is considered an effective way of organizing your thoughts. But there’s another thing you can add to your mind map to make it a very effective visual map of your thoughts. Color coding.

You might start thinking of that time when all of your notes became a jumble of colors. That’s one form of color coding, just not the best example. When done in moderation, color coding your notes can help you and your information be even more organized.

Take a look at this Civil War Timeline template for example:

Civil War Timeline template using MindMaple

Civil War Timeline template using MindMaple

Victories and significant events in favor of the Confederates are in blue, while victories and significant events in favor of the Union are in red. Neutral events with significance are marked in gray but emphasized to differentiate from additional information added for depth. MindMaple’s various style options allows you to customize the colors and styles of the information in your mind map to your preferences with ease.

What’s the most effective color code for your mind map?

Balancing your MindMaple mind map

Mindmaps are great tools for organizing, whether you’re organizing plans, notes, or ideas. However, sometimes mind mapping can get messy.

For me, that’s part of the fun. When I’m brainstorming, if I spend too much time thinking about how to structure the map, making sure it looks perfect and orderly, I diminish the organic thought process that makes mind mapping effective. Instead, I usually just continue mapping until all my ideas are out on the screen, and organize afterwards. Thankfully MindMaple has some features that make it easy to organize your map.

At first, your map might look like this:

Select “Balance map” from the “Format” menu…

…and MindMaple will automatically organize your map for you.

Your map should look more symmetrical and balanced. However this organization is not perfect. The Floating Topic has not moved, the arrows are in an awkward position, and the map looks a bit cramped overall.

Adjust the space between topics

First, let’s space the topics out. Select the Central Topic and then select “Increase” from the “Format” menu. You can choose to increase the Sibling Spacing (vertical spacing) or the Child Spacing (horizontal spacing). You can also decrease the spacing between topics. In addition, by selecting a specific Subtopic you can adjust the spacing of that Subtopic’s child topics.

Here’s my map after respacing the topics and moving the Floating Topic.

How to adjust relationship arrows

Now let’s adjust the relationship arrows, some of which are hidden behind the topics. Select the arrow you wish to adjust. Two guidelines, each with a green dot and a red dot, will appear adjacent to the ends of the arrow.

The red dots anchor the arrow to a specific location on a topic. By clicking and dragging the red dots, you can adjust the starting and ending points of the arrow.  By clicking and dragging the green dots, you can adjust the curvature and length of the arrow.

While an arrow is selected, you can modify its style and appearance by selecting “Relationship” from the top menu ribbon. For example, by selecting “Relationship Shape” you can change the arrow style from curved to angled.

The mind map with angled arrows:

Change the growth direction of your map

MindMaple can also change the expansion direction of your map. Select the Central Topic. From the top menu ribbon, select “Format” and then select “Growth Direction.” You can choose the orientation of topic growth.

The result of choosing “Left Map”:

Use gridlines to organize your map

I often prefer organizing my maps personally instead of using the automatic organization tools. A valuable feature are map gridlines, which you can turn on by selecting “View” from the menu ribbon and then selecting “Gridlines.”

A crisscross of faint lines will appear on the background of your map, which you can reference in order to align your map topics.

Good luck with your mind mapping!

Design Options in MindMaple – Episode 1

MindMaple offers users many ways to customize their mind maps. In this post, we’ll make a map that illustrates how you can customize the colors and design of your maps.

There are various preset color themes you can use for mind maps in MindMaple Pro (a limited number of themes is available in MindMaple Lite). These can be accessed by selecting “Format” on the top ribbon, and selecting “Theme Color.” This will initiate a drop-down menu from which you can select a number of colors, and create your own color theme if you wish.

What if you want to make a map that will be visually unique? Let’s imagine you want to make a mind map about the colors of the rainbow. It’s hard to imagine a situation in which you’d need to make a map like this, but it provides a good illustration of how to customize your maps.

Here’s how your map will look starting out:

Let’s liven up this map! Right-click the main topic, and select “Format Topic” (or hit the shortcut Ctrl + 1). From this menu, you can customize a number of features about your topic. For our main topic, let’s select the “rainbow” from the “Preset colors” drop-down menu.

Rainbow is a “Gradient fill,” but you can also use solid colors to customize your topics, as well as images or textures. For a gradient fill, you can choose from a number of gradient layouts, including linear, rectangular, and radial. Radial creates a curved effect that matches well with the rainbow pattern, so let’s choose that.

Our main topic still has an orange border, which looks strange juxtaposed with the rainbow. Let’s change it to a thin black border. Select the topic, and enter the “Format Topic” menu (by right-clicking or hitting Ctrl + 1). Select “Line Color” from the menu on the left, and select “Solid line” choosing black as the color.

While still in the “Format Topic” menu, select “Line Style” from the left menu, and decrease the Width by 1 point. Our map will now look like this:

Now let’s get started on the individual topics. Select the “Red” Topic and enter the “Format Topic” menu. Select “Solid fill” and choose a red color. Then select “Line Color” from the left menu, choosing “Solid line” and a darker red color for the line.

Let’s get a little bit more detailed and give the red topic a gradient fill. In the “Format Topic” menu, select “Fill” from the left menu, then select “Gradient fill.” Underneath “Gradient stops,” you should see a drop down arrow next to the words “Stop 1.” Clicking the arrow shows there are currently 4 stops (you can add or remove stops). For each stop, you can choose a different color to add to the gradient. By adjusting the “Stop position” bar for the each stop, you can control where each color will fade into the next color. Try experimenting with the various settings to see what you prefer.

Let’s increase the text size to make it more visible, and change the font color to white over the darker backgrounds. To do this, highlight the text you wish to change and click the “Style” tab on the top ribbon. Then change the text font, color, size, and other options.

Now let’s change the branch shape to let us show off more colors! Select the central topic, and click the “Style” tab from the top ribbon. Clicking the arrow next to “Branch Shape” will show a drop-down menu from which you can select a number of branch styles. Let’s select “Tapered Curve.”

To change the color of an individual branch, select the topic attached to the branch and click the “Style” tab. Click the small arrow at the bottom right of the “Branch Style” box on the ribbon to open the “Format Branch” menu. From here you can customize the branch shape, color, and style.

For one final touch, let’s change the shape of the topics. Select all topics (Ctrl + A is a handy shortcut), select the “Style” from the top ribbon, and select “Topic Shape” from the “Topic Style” box. A drop-down menu will appear, from which you can choose a number of options. Let’s select “Oval.”

Our finished map!