Monday, 30 January 2012

Import a Word Document - Why?

Many mind mapping software packages contain a Word import feature.  I wonder how many have used it and why.

From experience, I have found a number of benefits from using this feature:
  • the map provides a summary of the document, making the content easier to assimilate
  • the document becomes much easier to navigate, it's contents are laid out on a single page
  • detail can be hidden where not required or expanded where of interest
  • the software provides alternative approaches to review and highlighting; ideas can be added; review comments; icons; highlighting
  • the document can be filtered, provide a cut down version containing only the content of interest
  • the document can be exported back to Word again, with filters, changes and mark ups added, providing a richer Word document for sharing.

I will use the rules to a complex game as an example. It's a 37 page document, with content in three columns per page. The table of contents runs to a page and a half, also in three densely packed columns. I've worked with business documents far larger this.
3 Cols
Now how would you get a quick impression of content and subject matter without printing and physically running over the document by eye?

Importing it into, say, MindManager or MindGenius, provides an instant overview. I am fortunate the document is well structured in terms of heading and sub-headings and makes good use of Word Styles (Heading 1, Heading 2 and so on).

Once in this form, I can begin editing, marking, flagging and filtering.
MG filter
MM filter
When I've finished I can either publish the map or export to Word. When I export to Word I can use the same template used to format the original document, thus retaining continuity of appearance.
MG export
Some of the images used in this post were created using MindGenius.  If you would like to know more about MindGenius, do visit the web site and try the product free for 30 days.

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Andrew Wilcox said...

Ex ellent example of how to use these tools to analyse large documents.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I use mindgenius. When I wanted to create a table of contents for my thesis, I imported all 300 pages of the thesis into mindgenius. That gave me a summary of all the headings. I exported the result to another word document, opting to exclude the notes and branches without notes from the export and using word formatting. This produced a table of contents in a word document,to which I then only had to add to page numbers. Finally I added that document to my main thesis document ready for printing. Having done all that, I still had the mindmap of the thesis which I could use to concentrate on specific sections.