From my perspective there are two types of mindmaps: one-dimensional and multi-dimensional.  One is not better than the other.  Rather, it is a matter of purpose and context that should drive whether to use one over the other.

First, let’s take one-dimensional mindmaps.  This type of mindmap primarily focuses on leveraging a map as a visual tool to represent information spatially.  To a large extent, these mindmaps focus on the arrangement and association of information.  Thus, they typically have this construct:

One-Dimensional Mindmapping

This is the basic construct of a mindmap: A Central Topic, Main Topics, and Subtopics.  This construct has a wide variety of uses including: brainstorming, strategic planning, to-do list, meeting planning, decision making, goal setting, creating websites, note-taking, and many others,  So, it is certainly a powerful and flexible format for accomplishing a wide variety of things.  In fact, many of my 60+ mindmaps on have leveraged this construct.

However, using mindmapping software this way is largely an extension of hand-drawn mindmaps.  It is taking what you could do on paper or a whiteboard and doing it instead on a computer.  So, it is because of this I call it “one-dimensional”.

With mindmapping software, however, you can extend mindmapping beyond the one-dimensional to the multi-dimensional.  With multi-dimensional mindmaps, you can take all the benefits of one-dimensional mindmaps and extend them to include:

  • Notes
  • Links to documents
  • Links to folders
  • Links to websites
  • Links to other maps
  • Tagging to search and filter content
  • Integration of formulas to calculate financial information throughout the map
  • Integration of project management features directly into a map
  • Seamless integration with Microsoft Office

Incorporating these tools your mindmaps become multi-dimensional:

Multi-Dimensional Mindmapping1

It is important to understand, however, that this is not an “either/or” proposition.  It is a “both/and” proposition.  Not every mindmap needs to be multi-dimensional.  As stated earlier, there are plenty of good reasons to use one-dimensional mindmaps.  What matters is purpose and context.  For some purposes and contexts, one-dimensional is better.  For others, multi-dimensional is better.

What’s important is this: Mindmapping software can do both.  That’s exactly why it is so useful and so powerful.


4 Responses to One-Dimensional and Multi-Dimensional Mindmaps

  1. Bart says:

    I’m using multi-dimensional mindmaps to control my seo-websites and links. It’s really helpful!

  2. Chance Brown says:

    Glad to hear you are getting value from Multi-dimensional mindmaps. They are truly a powerful tool for information management and increased productivity. Thanks for sharing. —Chance

  3. The single-dimensional mindmap seems to be just a different way of laying out a traditional outline:
    Main Point1
    … (etc.)
    Main Point2
    … (etc.)

  4. Chance Brown says:

    True. But an outline is linear and inflexible. Where as a mindmap is spatial and very flexible. Let’s say in your outline above you wanted to quickly move your SubPoint1A to Main Point2 because it actually made more sense there. Once your outline was created, in say Microsoft Word, it becomes very difficult to brainstorm with ideas because they are linear and not spatial. There would be a lot of cut-copy-paste and reformatting. Also, keep in mind the one-dimensional map I’ve presented is just the base map – I have not added any colors or boundaries around topics or sub-topics – all very powerful tools in help the brain understand and remember concepts and ideas. We think in pictures. Moving from linear to spatial helps the brain do what it is already doing with a linear outline – trying to conceptualize the idea visually. Go to for several one dimensional maps that are more fully developed. Thanks for your comment.

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