Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Creating Finished Products from Template Maps

Maps that are Templates

You will come across many electronic maps that are designed to be used as a template.  Their purpose is to help you create or complete standard documents on specific subjects.

They provide a list of the ideas or subject areas in the form of topic branches and sub-topics and notes to help you complete your own content to arrive at a finished item.

new-1 template

If you work in an organisation where the sharing of maps is common and accepted this may be all you have to do. If a traditional, linear document is required then you will have to export the content into Word.

An example of this approach is standard documentation used to describe programmes or projects. One approach is to create a Blueprint and I'll use an example template for a Blueprint to illustrate some of the key steps in creating one.

The Template Map

Topic branches are the major ideas or subjects forming the requirements of the document.

new-2 topics

See them as headings or sections and sub-sections in a traditional linear document. Should you export your finished map to Word this is exactly how they will appear in the resulting document.

new-5 linear sections

Starting Work

Familiarise yourself with the topic branches. Look at any sub-topic branches or text notes that provide prompts for the content you will need to provide. Start making notes against each of the topics and sub-topics as ideas come to you (mind mapping as it was originally envisaged).

Refining the Ideas

When you think you may have got all the ideas captured on the map, review them:

  • Organise the ideas - moving them to more appropriate topic or sub-topic branches
  • Add new ideas as they occur to you
  • Add new topics or sub-topics if needed
  • Transform the ideas into proper sentences - thinking about the audience for the finished output.

Prepare to Publish

If the map will be the delivered output, add icons, markers, images and relationships to create emphasis or further meaning.

If the map is to be exported to create a traditional Word document, organise what you have written to fit the hierarchical structure of the target document. Structure the map so that the different topic levels and notes will map correctly onto the Word Styles in the template to be used. Lower level topics may be easier to export if they are Notes to higher level topics. Cut and paste the lower level topics as Notes to the relevant topic branches.

Publish to Word

Select the Export function and review the Export options (the dialogue and options will vary depending on which mapping tool you are using - here I am using MindGenius).

Select the preferred Word template.

new-3 export select template

Choose which elements of the map you want to be included or excluded from the finished document.

new-4 export options

Export and review the document created. If there are structural problems it might be easier to go back to the map and fix them there and then re-export. This is essential if you intend to maintain the content of the map over time.

new-6 finished

When you are happy with the document structure and format, review it in detail, making any local formatting changes. Finally, distribute the finished product.

Of course, if your recipients are comfortable with maps you can just send them the map.

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