Simple Guide to Novamind

Novamind is a mindmapping tool with an emphasis on great design. It’s ideal for presenters who want to create first class professional looking mindmaps for use in online or offline presentations. Of course, Novamind can also be used for note taking or brainstorming.

The price ranges from $49 for the most basic version to $249 for the platinum version. To try out the software, just download their 30 day free trial at:

Here’s how to use Novamind.

Step 1: Start Typing to Change the Main Topic

Click on the main topic to select it. Type in the name of the main topic.


Step 2: Learn to Create Topics

When the main topic is selected, just press enter to create your first sub-topic.

When any other topic is selected, press enter to create a topic on the same level. This is called a sibling topic.

Press insert when any topic is selected to create a sub-topic. This is called a child topic.


Step 3: Creating Callout Topics

Callout topics are attention-catching topics that you can use to draw emphasis to specific points.

To create a callout topic, first select the topic you want the callout to be attached to, then click “Callout” along the top bar.


This is what a callout looks like.



Step 4: Creating Floating Topics

Have a second main idea? Put it in a floating topic. Just click on the arrow under “Topic” and select “Floating Topic.”


This is what a floating topic looks like.


Step 5: Learn Your Formatting Options

Novamind offers a wide range of formatting options.

Fill color. This changes the background color of the whole topic.

Outline color. This changes the color of the line connecting to the topic, as well as the line outlining the topic.

To change Fill or Outline colors, click Fill or Outline in the top bar.


Text color. This changes the color of the text.

Text background color. Changes the background behind the text.

To change either of these options, click on the arrow next to the “A” in the top bar.


Bold, Italics and Underline. Click their respective buttons along the top, or use CTRL + B, I or U.

Font. Change the font by selecting the topic and clicking the font box.

Text size. Click the text size box next to the font box to select your text size. Alternatively, click the A^ or Av arrows to go one size up or down.

Here’s an illustration of the different formatting options.


Step 6: Change Your Map Design

Different designs work well for different purposes. If you’re taking notes for yourself, then a simplistic and fast design might work best. If you’re creating a mindmap for a presentation, then you might want a more classy design.

Click on Map Design along the top to access the map design menu.


Select the map design you want. Each design will look significantly different than other designs. Here’s an example of the Presentation design.

To change the colors, fonts or backgrounds in any design, just click one of the drop-down arrows on the right hand side.



Step 7: Presenter Mode

If you’re going to be using your mindmaps to make presentations, Novamind’s presenter mode can help.

To use the presenter mode, just click Presenter along the top.

To build a presentation, first select a topic, then click Create Slide From Selection on the left. Repeat this process for each topic you want to focus on.


Each slide will focus on one topic, zoomed in fully. Move from slide to slide to create a dynamic presentation.

Click on either of the Start Presentation buttons to play your presentation.


Wrap Up

We’ve just covered the most important features to Novamind. You now know how to create sibling and child topics, how to create callouts and floating topics, how to change text, outline and filler colors, how to change map designs and how to structure presentations.

Freemind Essentials

Freemind is a 100% free, open source mind mapping tool. It runs on Java 1.4+, which you can install at

Much like its commercial counterparts, Freemind allows you to create mind maps with different colorings, shapes, backgrounds and branches.

Here’s a guide to some of the most important features in Freemind.

Step 1: Download and Install

If you haven’t already installed Freemind, you can do so by going to:

Find your operating system and download the install files. Follow the on-screen instructions to install Freemind.


Step 2: Rename Your Map

Click on the center of your mind map to enter the text edit mode. Enter the name of your mind map or the central idea.1-Click-to-Change-Name

Hit enter to confirm your changes.


Step 3: Create Your First Node

To create your first node, hit enter. A blank node will appear. Fill in the text that you want to appear.


Step 4: Sibling and Child Nodes

A sibling node is a node that’s above or below your current node. To create a child node below your current node, just hit Enter. To create one above, hit Shift + Enter.


A child node is a “child” of the node above it. Its text can be shown or hidden at will. To create a child node, hit Insert.


Step 5: Adding Art

Click on any clip art symbol on the left hand bar to add it to any node.


Step 6: Format Your Nodes

To italicize or bold a node, click on the bold or italics buttons along the top bar. Alternatively, use Ctrl + I or Ctrl + B.


To change the size of your text, hold Control and press either + or -.


To change the font, select the node you want to change then click the font drop down box along the top. You can also change the font size using the box next to the font selection box


For even more formatting options, such as node color, background color, edge width and so on, go to the Format menu.


Step 7: Inserting Links and Images

To add a link or image to your mind map, click on the Insert menu, then select the type of file or link you want to insert.


Here’s what the inserted links or images look like:


These are some of the most important basic features of Freemind. You now know how to rename your nodes, add sibling and child nodes, format your nodes and insert links and graphics.

When & How to Use Mindmaps

1-mindmaps1Mindmapping takes note taking and brainstorming to a whole new level. Most people take notes linearly, one item after another in a sequential order. Unfortunately, that’s not how your brain works.

Your brain works out of order. It has many ideas that are interlinked with other ideas. Ideas have important concepts and sub-concepts, some of them related and some of them not.

Furthermore, your brain also thinks in multiple senses. Most people’s brains think primarily either visually and auditorily, sometimes with a touch of emotion or physical sensation as well.

Linear note taking doesn’t address any of that. Fortunately, mindmapping does.

Mindmapping is an innovative tool that that images, branched ideas, words and idea-linkage to form the ideal note taking and brainstorming tool.

Here’s when to use mindmapping and how to use mindmapping.


When to Use Mindmapping


Mindmapping works great for two primary purposes: Note taking and brainstorming.


You can use mindmaps to take notes in a meeting, in the classroom, while reading a book or while at a business lunch. The multi-idea format of the mindmaps makes it ideal for almost storing information on a wide variety of concepts.

By using pictures, different textures and different fonts, you store the information in a way that your brain is much more likely to remember. Six months from now, you might not remember the written text on a mindmap, but you will remember the creative doodle you drew to represent the concept.

Brainstorming is another place where mindmaps really shine. The purpose of a brainstorm is to free mental blocks and get creative juices flowing around creating new ideas.

Mindmaps allows this to happen in a way that makes it easy for the brain. The brain doesn’t necessarily brainstorm linearly. You might have three ideas about Topic A, then two ideas about Topic D, then a brilliant idea about Topic B before deciding to change your mind about something in Topic A.

Linear brainstorming in a list makes it very hard to do this. On the other hand, in a mindmap, you can easily jump back and forth.

Mindmaps also make it easy to record graphical ideas and incomplete ideas. Most ideas that come out of brainstorming sessions tend to be half-finished and can be very difficult to write out coherently. On a mindmap however, an incomplete idea is very easy to record and finish later.

In short, whether you’re taking notes or brainstorming for ideas, mindmapping works with your brain rather than against it.

On the flip side, mindmapping doesn’t work so well for things that are designed to be linear. For example, a task list, which is meant to be done from top to bottom, is better in linear form than in a mindmap.

How to Create Effective Mindmaps

1-mindmaps3Here are a few choice tips for creating effective mindmaps.

Start with a central concept or question. Write it large and clear in the middle. When you visualize this mind map later, the central concept should clearly come up in your mind’s eye.

When in doubt, write it out. Write bad ideas. Write half-baked ideas. Write ideas that might be wrong or stupid. The purpose of mindmapping is to get your brain flowing. Don’t stifle the flow by over-censoring.

Use personal shorthand. If there are words and phrases that only you will understand, don’t hesitate to use them. That’s how your brain talks to itself. The only exception is if your maps need to be shared with others.

Make it messy. Don’t worry about making it look pretty. Again, your brain thinks in a more disorganized manner than you might realize. Let it be messy and your note taking will flow better.

Leave room for later additions. If an idea or concept isn’t complete, then don’t use up all the space around it. Leave room to come back later and add other ideas or details.

Link related ideas. It might seem clear to you now that two concepts are related, but it might not seem so clear to you 6 months from now. Link ideas that are related to one another, so later you’ll clearly be able to see the most important related concepts.

Emphasize important points with images. Your mind uses images as well as words to remember. If an idea is important, draw a picture next to it. This will help your brain represent the concept visually and remember it better in the future.

Use simple words and concepts. Your brain works best with ideas that it can easily grasp. If your brain has to spend a lot of time processing before it can understand a concept, it probably won’t remember it in a few months.

Use different lines, colors and shapes. Again, the more variety, the better your brain will remember the content. Our minds in general don’t do very well with boring, rote or monotonous concepts.

Step away then come back refreshed. If you’re brainstorming, step away once you’ve ran out of ideas and come back later with a fresh mind. The ideas will often flow much more freely than if you tried to force yourself to carry on. The same is true with note taking. Take the important concepts now, then come back later to add the details.


Mindmapping results in more retention, more creativity and more idea-flow than traditional note taking or brainstorming. Try it for 30 days to see for yourself.