Mind mapping software is great for assembling thoughts and notes in preparation for writing a finished document.
Have you gone on from this and used the software to draft the document (contents and structure)?
Continuing to work in the visual format can help get to a finished product more quickly and with less effort.
This post summarises an approach to document creation using MindManager. It will show how to prepare and structure the document using MindManager and how to export to Word to achieve a finished document with little or no formatting.
[Clicking on some of the images will expand these in another window]
1. Assemble Thoughts
First begin by collecting thoughts and notes in MindManager, creating topics as and when ideas form. Don't be too concerned about structure and the hierarchy of topics to Styles at this stage
Reorganise the notes, grouping them under Level 1 Topics that will form the major sections of the document.
These will map to the 'Heading 1' Style in Word. Create and maintain Level 2 Topics that will form sub-headings under each Level 1 Topic. These will map to the 'Heading 2' Style in Word. Add further levels of sub-heading if required.
3. Review The Text
Review Structure: Assemble the topics containing the main text under these headings, use drag 'n' drop. Add and edit the text.
Move Body Text into Topic Notes: Then cut the topics containing the text and paste as Notes to Topics/Headings at the appropriate level. Notes can be mapped to any Word style but in this example we will map Notes to the Normal style. Edit the resulting Notes, add further text. Don't add any Font formatting to the Notes. If you want Numbered or Bulleted lists use the MindManager options within the Notes editor pane.
Continue Editing and Review: Review the document content, continue adding ideas and text. Review the structure and order. Re-order Heading Topics, insert new ones.
4. Preparation for Export to Word
Go to Word and open the template you wish to use. Review the Styles in the template, especially the 'Heading' styles and the 'Normal' style. Review styles that are 'based' on the 'Heading 1', 'Heading 2' and so on. Also review the 'Normal' style. Save the Word template.
5. Export to Word
Select the Export Option, then the Word option. Choose or edit the file name and select save. On the Microsoft Export to Word Settings dialogue, select 'Use settings from template'. On the next tab, 'Word Template', load your preferred template by clicking the drop down arrow and selecting 'User Template'. Browse for your template and select it.
When the template has loaded review the mapping for MindManager Topics, Notes and elements to the Styles in your template. MindManager defaults to mapping Topic 1 to 'Heading 1', Topic 2 to 'Heading 2' and so on. Change the mapping of Notes to 'Normal' or what ever your preferred body text style is.
When you are happy, click 'Export'.
Review the resulting Word document.
Final Word (!)
If you like to create documents using MindManager before moving to Word this is a great way of doing it.
A little time spent refining and understanding the Word template will save time when it comes to export
The only real constraint of this approach is that to achieve consistent results you must edit and organise your mind map into the strict hierarchical structure of Headings and Notes that will most directly map to the Word hierarchy of styles
There are other approaches to exporting that are less reliant on a tight hierarchical structure and I'll look at one of these in the coming weeks.