Beginners Guide to How to Make a Concept Map

Ready to learn how to make a concept map effectively? Keep on reading. Or, switch to an advanced mind mapping tool to streamline brainstorming and team communication.


Concept mapping is mind mapping but advanced in a hierarchical structure. You start with a central concept, expand on key ideas, and link them using labeled connectors. Opposite to mind maps, these diagrams have crosslinks and data represented as neurons linked through an electrical impulse.

But, enough with the theory, let us get to the practical. How to make a concept map? Simply put, it requires practice, resources, and skills to create a concept map on a blank canvas. However, no one has the time for it. This is where advanced diagramming tools help! Let us build a concept map from scratch or use one such tool and see how it compares.

In this article
  1. Definition of Concept Mapping
  2. How to Make a Concept Map
  3. Applications of Concept Map

Definition of Concept Mapping

Concept mapping is a graphic technique used to visually illustrate meaningful relationships between complicated concepts. A typical concept map depicts connections using nodes (circles, rectangles, squares), links, and labels. Unlike mind maps, these maps have a top-down hierarchical structure, implying their ability to represent several key concepts.

Today, concept mapping is a staple for businesses, education, and project management. It aids information organization, data analysis, and problem-solving. Not only this but these maps are also great discussion starters and welcome fresh perspectives during brainstorming sessions.

History of Concept Mapping

Joseph Novak's research at Cornell University was a kickstarter for developing concept maps. The study suggested that understanding different science concepts from an interview transcript is challenging for children, paving the way for David Ausubel's concept maps.

He founded an individual's cognitive structure on the learning psychology of children. According to him, learning new concepts demands prior knowledge. Therefore, he proposed an instructional strategy of concept mapping.

A group of students were given a central concept and asked to build related ideas around it graphically. They were free to introduce new problems and concepts, making them intricate and comprehensive. Today, these concept maps are a must for analysis and problem-solving.

How to Make a Concept Map

Whether on paper or digital canvas, making a concept map requires sticking to the sequence of steps. Keep on reading to know more about these steps.

Step 1: Start with the Central Idea

Start with the central idea or the problem of the map. Let us say it is Asthma. Before jumping to the key ideas, make a big circle for the central idea. You can also replace the key idea with a reference image.

Step 2: Brainstorm Key Ideas

Gather your team and brainstorm relevant ideas, from general to specific. Take time for this step. Before you plot the ideas in the map, jot them down in an outline. Once done, filter the best ideas and plot them in the concept map. You can choose a paper or a digital canvas for this step. While doing so, keep the significant ideas closer to the central concept box.

Tip: Do leave some space, as you might revisit the ideas.

Step 3: Build Connections and Crosslinks

It is time to connect the brainstormed ideas. Use straight lines to link two concepts. What's even better is to label these straight lines with linking words to indicate the nature of the relationship. For instance, if two ideas are asthma and coughing, you can label the connecting line as “causes.”

Once you are done with direct connections, make crosslinks. For those wondering about crosslinks, these are links between two concepts from different domains. It makes sense of the specific relationships within concept maps.

Step 4: Refine the Layout

Refine the layout to make it easily understandable. Here is how you can do it.

  • Use colors to differentiate idea categories.
  • Adjust the thickness of connecting lines based on priorities (from most important to least important).
  • Replace the central image of the map with a reference picture.
  • Restrict the words in each box. It is better to use one or two keywords for each idea.

Step 5: Revise the Map

Finally, the map is good to go. But before you share it with friends and colleagues, examine the sequence. Ask yourself questions like;

  • Is every element in the map in its place?
  • Can you position an idea in a different position?
  • Do you need a more accurate representation of linking words?

Scrutinizing these things will help you improve the information flow within the map.

How to Make a Concept Mapping in EdrawMind

Building a concept map from scratch can be time-consuming. But advanced mind makers have made it easier and faster, one such software being EdrawMind. So, let us make a mind map using this tool and see whether it is of any help.

free mind map maker

Before that, download, install, and launch EdrawMind. Log into your ID or access it using social media accounts.

Method 1: Create a Concept Map from Templates

Step 1: Pick a Template

Go to the Mind Map Gallery from the main menu. It will display a wide array of mind maps. Choose Concept Map and scroll down to find the right match. Once decided, click Duplicate.


Step 2: Make Changes

Adjust the layout by adding or removing topics/ subtopics from the top menu. Replace information, and change the theme of the map to your liking. Ta-da, the concept map is ready.


Method 2: Create a Concept Map from Scratch

Step 1: Start from Scratch

Let us say you prefer something other than pre-made map templates and have the time to start one from scratch; proceed with its mind map function. Click Create > Mind Map to access the editing panel.

Step 2: Insert Data

The EdrawMind editing canvas has a reference mind map structure. So, you can use this as a guide. This is how:

  • Expand the branches using the top menu. Add topics and subtopics.
  • Insert information in the boxes once you are satisfied with the layout.
  • Add supporting details using the floating topics.
  • Use arrows to crosslink ideas.
Step 3: Fine-Tune the Map

Though your concept map is ready, it can do better with some colors. Go to the right-side information panel and personalize the map. It allows adjusting the layout, colors, and themes. Whatever you do, make sure it does not look messy or cluttered.


It does not stop here. EdrawMind has recently introduced AI technology to help reduce time, save effort, and boost productivity. Here is what you can do with this functionality.

  • Create mind maps with input prompts with a single click.
  • Summarize the contents of mind maps using AI algorithms.
  • Chat with Edraw AI, make inquiries, and solve problems.
  • Make audio and video presentations and export them.

Applications of Concept Map

Concept mapping is an instructional diagram that helps individuals and groups facilitate learning, problem-solving, and critical thinking. It visualizes relationships between multiple parent-daughter problem sets using labeled crosslinks. Though it was initially developed for traditional education, concept mapping is integrated across industries today.

1. For Education

Concept maps are a trademark for curriculum planning, organization of concepts, and study guides. Educators use these maps to help students visualize complicated phenomena and brainstorm. Following are some traditional uses of concept maps in academia.

  • Concept maps are an excellent way to outline ideas for essays, writing projects, and research papers.
  • Educators leverage concept maps for planning complex curriculums.
  • Students take concept maps to organize and take notes during lectures.

2. For Business

Businesses integrate concept maps in routine processes to boost productivity and streamline workflow. With these diagrams, recalling minutes of team meetings, brainstorming ideas, and planning events is effortless. Here is how modern enterprises use it.

  • Concept maps highlight tasks and activities higher on the priority list, making it easy to schedule, track, and plan product launches and events.
  • These maps are quick starters for brainstorming sessions. It helps teams brainstorm ideas, analyze them, and solve problems.
  • Concept maps are a staple for project execution. It helps teams regulate workflow by organizing data and resources using infographics.

3. For Healthcare

Concept mapping facilitates medical learning and people-centered healthcare services. It is beneficial in clinical setups for filtering policy options, maintaining patients' records, and making duly interventions. Following are some typical uses of concept maps in healthcare.

  • Concept maps are utilized for clinical research regarding treatments and diagnosis.
  • Doctors use visual maps to organize patients' family history, previous records, etc.
  • Nursing concept maps aid nurses in assessing patients' conditions and making timely decisions.

4. For Personal Development

Lastly, concept maps are equally impressive in individual lives.

  • They help individuals brainstorm career paths and relevant opportunities.
  • You can analyze strengths and weaknesses to determine personal and professional goals.


Concept mapping is illustrating ideas and concepts just like how our minds work. Unlike mind maps, they have several parent-daughter key concepts, excellent for organizing complicated data structures. Today, groups and individuals use concept mapping across industries, medical setups, educational institutes, or businesses.

However, to make a concept map, you need patience, practice, and resources, which is an uphill task for professionals with abundant work. If you are stuck in a similar situation, it is time to switch to diagramming tools like EdrawMind. What sets it apart from other mind-mapping tools is its AI technology that generates intricate maps using prompts in seconds.

EdrawMind logoEdrawMind Apps
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David Miller
David Miller May 21, 24
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