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8 Types of Thinking Maps and Free Editable Templates to Use

This post covers a full explanation of 8 typical types of thinking maps and offers ready-to-use templates you can choose from.

Do you have trouble organising and executing your thoughts? Looking for a better way to retain complex ideas and situations? Well, thinking maps might be an effective solution!

Thinking maps are visual tools that can be used by students, teachers, or anyone to enhance their learning and better visualise their thoughts. Using thinking maps provides a clear direction of how to organise your thoughts and execute them perfectly.

8 Types of Thinking Maps and Free Editable Templates to Use

In this article, we will be discussing different types of thinking maps and thinking map examples that include: Circle Map, Bubble Map, Flow Map, Multi-Flow Map, Brace Map, Treemap, Double Bubble Map, Bridge Map, and why MioCreate is the best software for mapping your ideas!

Table of Contents
What Is the Thinking Map Strategy & Purpose of It
8 Types of Thinking Maps & How They Work
Free Editable Thinking Maps Templates for You to Create

What Is the Thinking Map Strategy & Purpose of It? 

It is true that thinking maps emerge from mind maps, which involve writing down a theme and brainstorming additional ideas related to that theme. Thinking Maps, developed by Dr. David Hyerle, is a specific type or branch of the mind map but provides a more structured and systematic approach to organising thoughts. By consisting of specific visual tools, thinking maps are designed to support different types of thinking processes, such as defining, describing, comparing, and analysing. Thinking maps have been a game changer for various industries including education, business, personal development, etc.


Teachers and students make use of thinking maps to connect concepts, and ideas and logically solve academic problems. On the business side, thinking maps are the starting point for new product development, project management, and innovations. A prominent example is the use of critical path analysis by business managers. Not only this but thinking maps can also help you to plan your future and sort your ideas and thoughts. But what is the purpose of thinking maps? What is a thinking map used for?

What Is the Thinking Map Strategy & Purpose of It

☆ Organising and connecting ideas: By creating visual connections between ideas, Thinking Maps help individuals to see the big picture while also focusing on specific details, and thus form a comprehensive overview of complex concepts.

☆ Boosting effective communication: While long texts and paragraphs can be boring and difficult to absorb, a thinking map can provide an easy way out to those who can better understand through visual graphs, pictures, maps, etc. Thus, thinking maps can be used to better communicate information.

☆ Enhancing critical thinking skills: The concept of creating a thinking map is based on linking your ideas and thoughts with other things, which provides the basis for enhanced critical thinking skills and innovation.


8 Types of Thinking Maps & How They Work

1. Circle Map

8 Types of Thinking Maps & How They Work

Circle Map is usually used for brainstorming, defining, and exploring the characteristics, attributes, or qualities of a central concept or topic.

Also read: brainstorming examples >>

The Circle Map consists of two circles, one in the centre to showcase the main topic and the other surrounding it to show all responding connections and definitions to the main topic.

The main purpose of Circle Maps is for brainstorming and generating ideas. By placing a central concept or topic in the centre of the circle, individuals can freely associate and jot down their thoughts, characteristics, and attributes related to that topic. It encourages divergent thinking and helps to expand the range of ideas.


2. Bubble Map

8 Types of Thinking Maps & How They Work

Bubble map is used for describing qualities related to a central concept or topic which may include a specific person, event, place, idea, or item using adjectives and descriptive words. A bubble map consists of a small circle, inside which is the main topic, that is connected with the relevant adjectives, and descriptive words that are relevant to that topic. The words are connected using lines that converge to the main theme.

The main purpose of a bubble map is to add creativity and description to your topic. Bubble maps help you improve your writing, and visualising skills by describing the main topic in a variety of ways and words that help in a better understanding of what the main topic is about.

3. Flow Map

8 Types of Thinking Maps & How They Work

Flow Map is used for visually breaking down a process into simpler steps to represent a series of instructions, ideas, and thoughts that are usually in a sequence, or interrelated. It consists of arrows that show the movement of the process/sequence. Each stage of the process can be further divided into different sequences, using arrows. The flow of the process could be either horizontal or vertical.

A flow map is basically a flow chart that shows a sequence of possibilities and how to proceed with each possibility. Its main purpose is to help in decision-making and scenario planning. It assists in future planning, points out different possibilities for action, sequence, instruction, etc, and what decisions should be taken for each possibility. If you are looking for free flowchart template, you can check this >>

4. Brace Map

8 Types of Thinking Maps & How They Work

Brace Map is used for identifying part-to-whole relationships of certain objects/ideas and breaking them down into the components that make up the object. A Brace Map consists of braces that show the breaking down of an object into components. The main object is usually written to the left side, which is then broken down by one or more sets of braces that consist of its components.

The main purpose of a Brace Map is to identify, and organise all the components of an object/topic separately and what it is made of. It encourages a better understanding of what the main object is made up of and helps to better organise and conceptualise the components of the whole topic.

5. Tree Map

8 Types of Thinking Maps & How They Work

Tree Map is used for displaying a set of grouped data that is linked with the main topic and is nested in a hierarchical structure. A tree map consists of branches. The main topic is written at the top and is then divided further into “branches” that list relevant information to that topic which shows the connection/division of the main topic.

The main purpose of a tree map is to break down ideas/topics into further sub-divisions so that it is easier to understand what the main topic comprises. By dividing the main theme into clear sub-sections and branches, individuals can better memorise information.

6. Double Bubble Map

8 Types of Thinking Maps & How They WorkDouble Bubble Map is basically used for comparing ideas and qualities of two bubble maps together and considering any similarities and differences between the two topics. A double bubble map consists of two bubble maps, each of which has its own topic enclosed within a circle, followed by several smaller circles that describe the main topic. The smaller circles are connected with the big circle using arrows/lines. The similarities are connected with both of the larger circles that consist of the main topics.

The main purpose of a double bubble map is to compare the differences and similarities of two things and to see how different, or similar, are the two things from one another and in some cases,  helps you identify which idea is better.

7. Multi-Flow Map

8 Types of Thinking Maps & How They WorkMulti-Flow Map is always used for identifying what caused a particular event/situation and what effects it will have on the overall situation. It usually consists of larger and smaller rectangles. The larger rectangle is in the middle and describes a situation or an event. The smaller rectangles on the left describe the causes of that situation and the smaller rectangles on the right show what effects those causes had on the overall situation.

The main purpose of a multi-flow map is to help show relationships between events. It helps in identifying what caused a particular event, what effect did it have, and how to avoid/encourage it in the future. Thus, it helps in the creative analysis of the situation.

8. Bridge Map

8 Types of Thinking Maps & How They WorkBridge Map is used for identifying the relationship between two things/variables or topics. It is a straight line with bumps in between that separate the topics. On the top of the line is a text that represents a topic and the text on the bottom is a related factor to the topic.

The main purpose of the bridge map is to link your ideas with other related ideas and themes. The concept of identifying a related factor encourages creativity and the ability to think broadly and come up with new ideas.

Free Editable Thinking Maps Templates for You to Create

You might be wondering, how to create a thinking map in the first place. Which software is best to create a thinking map and store it on your phone, laptop, computer, etc?

Free Editable Thinking Maps Templates for You to CreateWell, MioCreate is by far the best software for creating thinking maps. MioCreate is an online whiteboard that helps connect your team and provides hassle-free online workflow. It also allows you to create thinking maps to better manage your activities. 

Not only this, it offers a variety of thinking maps templates and thinking maps pdf to choose from, along with an easy-to-use interface! To use these templates, simply register an account with MioCreate, navigate, and choose from a variety of options such as Agile workflows, Brainstorming, flowcharts and diagrams, meetings, research and design, strategy and planning, etc.


How to Create a Thinking Map Using MioCreate

Step 1: Identify the purpose of the thinking map.

Step 2: Decide which type of thinking map to use.

Step 3: Fill in the map with necessary elements, by the text, images, or signs.

Step 4: Review and refine your final work.


From the above article, we can conclude that thinking maps are a real blessing to students, teachers, business people, and lots of other users. After carefully experimenting with various software, it can be inferred that MioCreate offers the best and most user-friendly thinking maps templates that make it a lot easier for you to create your own thinking map and organise your thoughts. It is trusted by thousands of users and is no doubt, the best software for thinking maps that exist.


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