If you’ve never created a mindmap you’re in for a treat. It’s a great way to brainstorm, study, be creative or simply organize information. 

Mindmaps are drawn differently than flowcharts. A flowchart shows the flow of information and has a beginning and an end; a mindmap shows information in clusters and everything links back to one main idea.

Because mindmaps are a brainstorming tool, they have their own set of shortcuts, making it possible for you to draw as fast as your ideas flow.

Before starting, may I suggest you download the Gliffy mind mapping software first!


How to draw a mindmap

You can create a mindmap by opening a mindmaps template in Gliffy. Log into your account (if you haven't already) and choose “create from a template” or go to: File, New and open the mindmap templates folder. When you open your first one, a handy list of keyboard shortcuts will appear. Memorize them all and become a mindmapping master!


When diagramming it's best to start with a mindmapping template. Here's our recommendation: mindmaps start with a main idea. For example, let’s say you’re brainstorming a new ad campaign geared towards college students and their eating habits.

1. Start by writing down your main idea.

2. Create a subtopic by clicking one of the gray arrows that appear when you click on the main topic (or use the (CMD/CTRL + Arrow) shortcut). When you’ve finished typing hit the Tab key.

3. Create a parallel topic by using (Tab + Arrow) or click on the main topic and then click on one of the gray arrows.

4. Navigate around your mindmap by using the arrow keys on your keyboard.


Color themes: families vs. generations

There are two preset color themes in mindmaps although of course you can customize colors to your liking.


If you select the “Families” theme, child nodes will be grouped with the subtopics they’re connected to by color. So for example, if a subtopic is blue, all the child nodes connected to it would also be blue (like in the example above).


If you select the “Generations” theme, all parallel topics within the same generation will be grouped by color. The generations theme works well if you need to show order or rank (think of generations in a family tree).

mindmaps_generations (1)


Hiding mindmap nodes

Each parent node has + and symbols that can be used to show or hide the child nodes attached to it.

gliffy mind mapping template



Brainstorming can be a messy business. Use the layout button to automatically layout your nodes so they don’t overlap.

mind map tool and template

Interaction With Other Libraries

Because mindmaps are not like other Gliffy diagrams, the mindmap shortcuts won’t work with Gliffy’s other shape libraries and vice-versa.

But enough talk, click below to try it for yourself. We promise it’ll be fun!

Try in Confluence       Try online