If you’re more of a visual learner, then the mapping method may be right for you since it relies on graphics and structures to connect key ideas. In this method you:
- Start with a key phrase that identifies the main topic. Place that phrase in a box or bubble in the center of your page. This method works best if your page is in landscape orientation.
- Now, draw a line from that topic box and write down a phrase that summarizes the first main fact or idea covered. Draw a box or circle around that phrase.
- For each fact or detail directly related to that idea, write a phrase summarizing it, circle or box the phrase, and draw a line back to the idea box.
- Repeat these steps for each main idea covered in the lesson, textbook, or video.
When you’re finished, it should look something like the example below from a lesson on the Inca civilization. You can also use color-coding to distinguish between types of information such as dates, people, examples, definitions, or theories.
Even if you don’t wish to use the mapping method for note-taking, you may want to try it as a study aid. For example, after reading a chapter, close your book and map out the main ideas and supporting details you can recall. It’s more fun than writing a summary, and the process helps dislodge information lurking in the back of your memory.
The mapping method is also a great way to start brainstorming and organizing essays as well as breaking through writer’s block.