Your Complete Guide to Concept Map Note Taking

Updated on: 19 May 2024 | 10 min read
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Concept map note taking is a dynamic and visual note taking method that is great with organizing and understanding information. This is an excellent method especially if you are a visual learner. By representing knowledge in graphs, concept maps can facilitate a deeper learning experience and enhance the retention of information. This note taking method is particularly beneficial in educational settings where complex information needs to be broken down into digestible, interconnected parts.

What is Concept Map Note Taking?

Concept map note taking involves the graphical representation of ideas and their relationships. It allows students and professionals to visualize the structure of knowledge and identify the connections between different concepts. This method not only aids in learning and memorization but also supports critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

A concept map is a visual tool or diagram that consists of two main elements:

  • Concepts: These are typically represented by circles, ovals, or boxes and are called “nodes.”

  • Relationships: These are represented by arrows that connect the concepts, called “cross-links.” These arrows can include a connecting word or verb, but they don’t have to.

Simple Concept Map for Concept Map Note Taking
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Simple Concept Map

What is Concept Map Note Taking Used for

This is a highly effective note taking method serving several specific purposes that enhance the learning and information retention process. Here are the key uses of concept maps in note-taking:

  • Organize Information: Arrange notes hierarchically, making it easier to see the big picture and details.

  • Aid Visual Learning: Help visual learners remember and understand information better by turning text into visuals.

  • Show Connections: Highlight relationships and patterns between concepts, helping to integrate new knowledge with what you already know.

  • Simplify Complexity: Break down complex information into simpler, manageable chunks, and summarize large amounts of material.

  • Improve Comprehension: Enhance understanding and critical thinking by engaging you actively in the learning process.

  • Make Review Easy: Provide a quick overview of topics, making them ideal for exam reviews and easy updates.

  • Facilitate Collaboration: Serve as a shared visual reference in group study sessions, ensuring everyone has a common understanding.

  • Encourage Creativity: Promote brainstorming and flexible thinking by allowing multiple connections between ideas.

Blank Concept Map for Concept Map Note Taking
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Blank Concept Map

In summary, concept maps turn note-taking into a visual, organized, and engaging activity that improves learning and memory.

Different Types of Concept Maps for Note Taking

Understanding the different types of concept maps can significantly enhance your note-taking strategy. This section explores several popular mapping techniques, helping you choose the right map for your educational or professional needs.

Overview of Different Mapping Techniques

Concept maps come in various forms, each serving a unique purpose and catering to different types of information and cognitive processes:

  • Star or Spider Maps: These note taking maps centralize the main idea, with branches radiating out to represent related subtopics. Ideal for brainstorming sessions or exploring a new topic.
Spider Diagram for Concept Map Note Taking
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Spider Diagram
Star Diagram for Concept Map Note Taking
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Star Diagram
  • Chapter Maps: Useful for academic settings, these maps help students outline the contents of a book chapter, making it easier to review and recall key points.

  • FishBone note Mapping: Also known as cause-and-effect maps, these are perfect for analyzing root causes of a problem. They help in structuring thoughts in problem-solving scenarios.

Fish Bone Diagram for Concept Map Note Taking
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Fish Bone Diagram
  • Cycles and Processes Mapping: These maps are great for visualizing steps in a process or lifecycle, helping to understand and memorize sequences and procedures.
Process Map Starter for Concept Map Note Taking
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Process Map Starter
  • Compare and Contrast Mapping: These maps aid in examining similarities and differences between two or more items, enhancing critical thinking and evaluation skills.
Compare and Contrast Mind Map for Concept Map Note Taking
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Compare and Contrast Mind Map

Benefits of Concept Map Note Taking

Embracing concept map note taking is more than just a shift in how we record information; it’s a transformative learning strategy that enhances comprehension and retention. This method leverages visual learning styles, making it particularly beneficial for those who thrive on visual stimuli. Note-taking with concept maps offers several advantages that aid in learning, comprehension, and retention:

1. Visual Representation:

  • Clarity: Concept maps visually represent complex ideas, making them easier to understand.

  • Structure: They provide a structured layout of information, improving organization and coherence.

2. Active Engagement:

  • Interactive Learning: Creating concept maps requires active participation, leading to better understanding and retention.

  • Critical Thinking: Analyzing information for concept maps promotes critical thinking skills. Concept maps are particularly effective for breaking down complex subjects into manageable sections. Concept maps can benefit from a comparing and contrasting tool which can help in visually distinguishing and relating different concepts.

3. Connection Building:

  • Relationships: Concept maps visualize connections between concepts, defining a deeper understanding of how ideas relate to each other.

  • Integration: They help in integrating new knowledge with existing understanding, expanding on the subject matter.

4. Memorization:

  • Memory Enhancement: Visualizing information in concept maps helps memory recall compared to traditional linear note-taking.

  • Visualization: Associating concepts with visual representations improves memory retention.

5. Active Review:

  • Efficient Review: Concept maps serve as efficient review tools, allowing for quick review of key concepts and relationships.

  • Identifying Gaps: Reviewing concept maps helps identify areas of weakness or gaps in understanding for focused revision.

6. Creativity:

  • Creative Expression: Creating concept maps encourages creativity in representing ideas and relationships.

  • Problem Solving: Concept maps can help in brainstorming and problem-solving by visually mapping out solutions and alternatives. The process of creating a concept map encourages divergent thinking, a key component in problem-solving and innovation.

7. Adaptability:

  • Versatility: Concept maps can be adapted to various subjects and learning styles, making them suitable for a wide range of topics.

  • Personalization: Learners can customize concept maps to suit their preferences and learning objectives.

By including concept maps for note-taking, learners can benefit from enhanced comprehension, memory retention, and critical thinking skills, ultimately leading to more effective learning outcomes.

Overall, the integration of concept map note taking with digital tools like those offered by Creately not only simplifies the creation of complex maps but also enhances the learning experience by making it more interactive and accessible.

Cons Of Concept Map Note Taking

  • Hard to Separate Facts from Thoughts: It can be challenging to distinguish factual information from personal thoughts and interpretations.

  • Needs Supplementary Methods: Concept maps often need to be used alongside other note-taking methods like the Cornell or Outline Method for full coverage.

Visual Cornell Notes for Concept Map Note Taking
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Visual Cornell Notes
  • Requires High Concentration: Creating effective concept maps requires strong concentration and active listening skills.

  • Risk of Missing Details: Smaller details can be easily overlooked, making concept maps less suitable for subjects that require attention to intricate details.

Step-by-Step Process of Taking Notes Using Concept Maps

Creating a concept map for note taking is a dynamic way to organize and visualize information, enhancing both understanding and retention.

1. Identify Main Ideas: Start with the big picture by identifying the main ideas or themes.

2. Connect Concepts: Link these main ideas together based on how they relate to each other.

3. Central Node: Put the main idea in the center, and branch out with related concepts.

4. Add Details: Include examples or details to support each concept.

5. Review and Revise: Check for accuracy and clarity, and make adjustments as needed.

6. Use Visuals: Use colors or symbols to make your concept map visually appealing and memorable.

7. Update as Needed: Continuously update your concept map as you learn more.

By following these simple steps, you can create effective concept maps to help you understand and remember important information.

Integrating Technology with Concept Map Note Taking

In the realm of concept map note taking, the integration of technology has revolutionized how we visualize and organize information. Digital tools and applications specifically designed for concept mapping not only streamline the creation process but also enhance the interactive capabilities of these maps, making them more dynamic and accessible.

Digital Tools for Concept Mapping

Modern technology offers a plethora of tools that cater to the diverse needs of concept mappers. From basic diagramming tools to advanced platforms that support real-time collaboration, the options are vast. For instance,Creately’s Concept Map Maker provides an intuitive interface with drag-and-drop features that simplify the process of creating complex maps.

Technology not only makes the creation of concept maps easier but also significantly enhances their utility. For example, Creately’s Concept Mapping Software allows users to integrate their maps with other digital study tools, thereby creating a comprehensive learning environment. This integration can be particularly beneficial in:

  • Facilitating real-time updates and feedback
  • Linking concept maps to related resources and data
  • Enabling a seamless transition between different study tools

Moreover, the use of AI in platforms like Creately helps in automating repetitive tasks and delivering insights using strategic frameworks, which can be crucial for complex information processing and decision-making.

Enhancing Concept Maps with Creately

Creately is a versatile diagramming tool that can be used effectively for concept mapping. Here are some key features and steps to create concept maps using Creately:

Key Features of Creately for Concept Mapping:

  • User-Friendly Interface: Drag-and-drop functionality for easy creation and modification of concepts and connections.

  • Templates: A wide range of pre-built templates for concept maps, mind maps, flowcharts, and other diagrams to get you started quickly.

  • Collaboration: Real-time collaboration features allow multiple users to work on the same concept map simultaneously. Ideal for team projects and group studies.

  • Integration: Integration with popular tools like Google Drive, Slack, Confluence, and Jira for seamless workflow.

  • Customization: Extensive customization options for shapes, colors, fonts, and layouts to match your specific needs and preferences.

  • Export Options: Ability to export diagrams in various formats such as PDF, PNG, SVG, and more for easy sharing and presentation.

Tips for Effective Concept Mapping with Creately:

  • Use Hierarchies: Arrange concepts in a hierarchical manner, starting from the general idea at the center and branching out to more specific details.

  • Keep it Simple: Avoid cluttering the map with too many elements. Focus on clear and concise connections.

  • Color Coding: Use different colors to differentiate between various sections or types of information.

  • Annotations: Add notes or annotations to provide additional context where needed.

Creately’s comprehensive features and intuitive interface makes it a powerful note taking tool for creating detailed and collaborative concept maps, enhancing both individual learning and group projects.

Read further on concept maps and other visual note taking methods


In short, concept map note taking is a fantastic way to understand and organize information, especially for students and professionals. By drawing connections between ideas visually, it helps with learning, memory, and critical thinking. Concept maps use nodes for ideas and arrows for relationships, evolving into powerful tools over time.

Benefits include better learning through visuals, improved memory, and support for complex ideas. Integrating technology like Creately’s Concept Map Maker makes them even more useful. Future trends may bring more AI and collaboration features.

Ultimately, concept map note taking changes how we learn and think, empowering us to engage with information more effectively.

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Heroshe Mihindukulasuriya Content Specialist

Heroshe is a content specialist and a writer at Creately, online diagramming and collaboration tool. He is responsible for creating engaging, informative, and high-quality content that helps users understand and utilize the platform's features effectively. He mainly focuses on making complex concepts easy to grasp, and is passionate about art & music.

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