Sunday, 15 March 2015

Mind Genius Tip: Getting the Best from Export to Word

1             Introduction

Mind mapping software is a great aid to creating documents of all kinds.  It helps with the initial idea generation, the development of themes and the final shaping of the text - and with a bit of work you can even use it create the finished product.

Getting the best from the "Export" function means a little time is needed to understand the export options and how the software interacts with MS Word Styles.

2             MindGenius and Word

MindGenius does a good job of exporting to Word and you can improve on this by good use of the options.
The key things to understand are:
·         how Word styles are used
·         managing paragraph spacing
·         MindGenius Export options.

3             Create the Word Template

First step is to review or create a preferred Word template - reflecting the structure and presentation format you are aiming for.  MindGenius works with Word 97-2003 compatible templates so you template will need to be saved as a ".dot".

The structure of the map "maps" onto the Word styles as follows:
·         Core topic > "Title"
·         Level 1 topic > "Heading 1"
·         Level 2 topic > "Heading 2"
·         Level 3 topic > "Heading 3" and so on
·         Notes > to a style used by MindGenius called "No Spacing".

Ensure your template includes all these styles and that they are formatted how you want them.

4             Word Styles

A couple of tips regarding Word Styles. 

4.1         Avoid "Normal" Style

Never ever allow use of the "Normal" style.  Many other Styles are based on the "Normal" style by default and if you amend the "Normal" style you may automatically amend many of the others.

MindGenius only uses the "Normal" style for branches below a defined level, say beyond level 9.  To avoid this either do not create a map with more than three or four levels (do you really want many, many levels of headings?) or set the MindGenius export option "Branches below level nn use normal text" to something like "99" to be on the ultra safe side.

4.2         Paragraph Spacing

When creating the Word file via export, MindGenius inserts an additional carriage return between every paragraph, regardless of level.  If you have also set paragraph spacing options in your Word template this can result in a document where the spacing between paragraphs is very obvious.

To avoid this, edit your Word template and consider  setting the paragraph options for each style with:
·         "Before" and "After" set to "0"
·         "Line spacing" set to "Single".

You might need to experiment with one or two exports to get this exactly right.

5             Create and Structure Your Map

Create your document content and structure (in terms of headings and sub-headings) as a map.  

When you have the detailed content or body, ensure this text is attached as notes to the headings you want to use.  Use cut and paste to move branch text up into the level where you want it.  You will end up with a clean map, with only the headings and sub-headings showing as branches.  

Aim to have no more than three or four levels as this will ensure you have no more than three or four levels of headings/subheadings in the finished document.

6             Export Options

Finally, the key MindGenius export settings:
·         Select "Use a Word template" and browse to the correct templates (remember you can only use ".dot" - not ".dotx"
·         Ensure "Maintain Notes formatting" is NOT checked - we want the Note in our map to use the Word formatting we have defined for the style "No Spacing"
·         Ensure that "Branches below level nn use normal text" is set to a number greater than the number of levels in your map (remember that a branch in the map will become a heading in the document so don't have too many levels, say no more than three).

7             Complete the Export

View the exported document in Word.  If your template was correctly specified and you mapped the levels correctly to the Word styles you will have a finished product (or nearly so).  If major changes to the content or structure are needed, consider going back to the map and making the changes there and exporting again.  This is important where you want to retain the map for future reference.  When you are satisfied use the Word review tools, if desired, to run final checks on the content.  Undertake any final formatting such as bulleting lists.

8             Conclusion

Taking a bit of time to create and maintain a Word template or two for use with MindGenius export can be a great boost to your productivity.  With some experience you can quickly create a document as a MindGenius map and export it one go to create a finished product for distribution.

If you would like to know more about MindGenius, do visit the web site and try the product free for 30 days.

Should you decide to buy MindGenius, Peace of Mind Blog can offer a 10% discount.  Just use the discount code at the checkout on the MindGenius web site or quote the code in any correspondence with MindGenius.

To claim the 10% discount please use the code:  MGELST

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Add Topics Your Way - a MindGenius Tip

This quick tip shows how you can control MindGenius behaviour when you are adding topics/branches to a map. Understanding this behaviour can help you choose the option best suited to the way you work. It can help reduce interruptions to the train of thought, especially when creating topics at speed.

 When adding topics to a MindGenius map, the default behaviour is for the editing "focus" to remain with the currently selected topic. This is great when you want to add lots of sub-topics.

You may prefer a different option - such as when adding a list of Level 1 topics or a list of sub-topics at the same time. In this instance you may want the editing "focus" to switch to the newly added topic each time, thus allowing you to enter the next topic from that point on, just by hitting "Enter".

This behaviour is controlled by a simple check box toggle that can be found by following "Tools > Options > General".

It may be worth experimenting to understand the best option for the given situation.

If you would like to know more about MindGenius, do visit the web site and try the product free for 30 days.

Should you decide to buy MindGenius, Peace of Mind Blog can offer a 10% discount.  Just use the discount code at the checkout on the MindGenius web site or quote the code in any correspondence with MindGenius.

To claim the 10% discount please use the code:  MGELST

Monday, 2 February 2015

MindGenius Matures with Version 6

1. In-place Editing


Replaces the 'Add Branch' Dialogue

In the past, when a branch was added or edited a separate edit window opened so that the Branch text could be added/edited.

Ease of Use

The new 'In-place Editing' allows Branch text to be edited directly without the need to open a separate dialogue window.  This is much simpler and more intuitive.

Speed of Entry Improved

Data entry is not only simpler but faster, better enabling 'the hands to keep up with the mind'. The risk of interruptions to the train of thought or conversation is reduced.

2. 'Pan Mode' for Map Explorer


Make a Branch the Focus

In previous versions, clicking on a branch using the Map Explorer would highlight that branch on the map and make it the focus - all other map branches would be excluded and only sub-branches of the branch selected would be displayed.  A very useful feature when you want to home in on a specific area of the map.

New - Highlight and 'Pan' to a Branch

Now you may use Map Explorer to navigate around a map.  With the 'Pan' option selected, clicking on a branch within Map Explorer highlights the branch and 'pans' the map to put that branch at the centre of the map display whilst continuing to display all branches and sub-branches - essentially continuing to display the map in its entirety, or at least such of it as will fit in the display window given the current 'zoom' setting, but with the selected branch highlighted and at the centre of the display.  This new feature will be invaluable for navigating large maps.  The Map Explorer makes it easy to find the a branch and with 'Pan' mode it takes only one click to be taken to that branch on the map.  This complements nicely the existing 'make focus' option.  


3. Word Cloud


As a map is created there is now the option to display a 'Word Cloud'.  This can help to identify the emerging themes as a map is created or to review a map when the flow of ideas has ceased.  There are two configuration possibilities, to be found in the 'Tools > Options > Display' dialogue.  Users can choose between having the word cloud include or exclude words found in Notes.  They may also choose to restrict the size of the word cloud to a maximum of 30 words.  The word cloud can be exported as an image by clicking on the 'Copy To Clipboard' button of the feature.  The image may then be pasted into any application such as Word or PowerPoint.


4. Cloud Storage

cloudStorage A new dialogue added to the File menu in addition to 'Save' and 'Save as'.  This option allows users to connect to and save maps to Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive and/or the new MindGenius cloud storage.  The application keeps track of whether the most recent 'save' was to local or to Cloud storage at the top of the screen in the file name display.  Files can be retrieved from the Cloud for display and editing using the 'Open' dialogue with the 'Cloud Storage' option.  This all seems straightforward and fuss free - just remember to choose between 'Save/Save as' and 'Cloud Storage' depending on where you want to save your map.


5. Other Changes

Of benefit to project managers is the new ability to have cost and quantities calculated up through the task hierarchy.  Working with a map, if you assign cost or quantity to tasks you can now select the parent branch (or a branch higher up the hierarchy) and have the total cost or quantity calculated and applied to that parent branch.

Other welcome new features are the ability to customise the Gantt chart (task bar colours) and additional features for project resources.


6. Overall

Mind Genius 6 has a very clean and uncluttered feel.  Most of the frequently used options are readily accessible from the ribbon.  The new features contribute greatly to what has become a mature product.  My favourite is 'In-place Editing' which allows maps to be developed more quickly and with less chance of interruption to the train of thought.


This review was prepared using MindGenius 6 and exported to Word, using a pre-prepared Word template. The result is the document you are reading, created from the MindGenius map in a single step and requiring no further editing or formatting, other than formatting for the web.


If you would like to know more about MindGenius, do visit the web site and try the product free for 30 days.

Should you decide to buy MindGenius, Peace of Mind Blog can offer a 10% discount.  Just use the discount code at the checkout on the MindGenius web site or quote the code in any correspondence with MindGenius.

To claim the 10% discount please use the code:  MGELST