Tuesday, 13 November 2007

MindManager and MS Office

One of the truly great features of MindManager is its integration with MS Office. I've long used the links with Outlook to manage my to dos and personal plans. Recently I've begun to use the Word export feature also.

Conceptually, I think there are two ends to a spectrum on how the Word link might be used. At the simple or 'quick and dirty' end is the approach which where a map is created, exported to Word and then the Word document edited to achieve the desired result.

Mindjet Productivity Pack for Microsoft® Office

The other approach is more considered and involves pre-planning to achieve a finished Word document at the press of a button. This is not a criticism merely a pointer to users - if you want great results first time from the Word export feature, then invest a little time first to 'design' you map and a template to match - and then check it.

Things I have learned are:

- ensure each branch of the map conforms strictly to the Word template hierarchy. Having a branch with an additional level, say one between what should be level 1 and level 2, will give corresponding results in the Word document
- design and save the Word template file (.dot) first. Remember to include any additional items such as: title page(s); document control; ToC; headers and footers, additional branding)
- check the leveling on the map is consistent with the template hierarchy
- select the correct options (template, mapping of levels to template styles, understand how deep the leveling goes, consider what you want to happen to notes and images)
- export.

Prove the map and the template give the desired result by testing with simple outputs - especially before using the feature live in front of an audience.

I think what also takes first time users by surprise is that MM creates "MM" versions of the template styles rather than use the styles as-is (as-are?). This is OK once you understand it will happen (maybe a future release can get around this?).

If anyone has any good/interesting Word templates that could be experimented with, modified and otherwise adopted by users (inc me) they would be gratefully received by all I'm sure.

It's also worth reviewing the 'Value of an Hour' presentation on the MindJet website. There is also a 'Microsoft Tips and Tricks' map to download here.

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