How To Make a Concept Map on Google Docs

924928 How To Make a Concept Map on Google Docs

Concept maps are diagrams that visually represent relationships between concepts. They help organize and structure knowledge and are often used for learning, brainstorming, and explaining complex ideas.

While Google Docs doesn’t have built-in tools to make concept maps, you can create them manually using Docs’ drawing features. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make a concept map in Google Docs.

Select Your Main Concept

The first step is deciding on the main concept or idea your map will focus on. This will be the central topic that other concepts will branch out from. For example, your main concept could be:

  • Cell Biology
  • Causes of Climate Change
  • Character Development in Novels

Pick a concept that is broad enough to have multiple connections but narrow enough to map out effectively.

Brainstorm Related Concepts

Once you have your main concept, brainstorm 10-20 concepts related to the main topic. These will become the secondary concepts that link back to the main idea.

For the cell biology example, related concepts could include:

  • Cell wall
  • Cytoplasm
  • Mitochondria
  • Lysosomes
  • Nucleus

List out all the related concepts before you begin mapping.

Insert a Drawing and Shapes

To start your concept map:

  1. Click Insert > Drawing > New in the Docs toolbar. This will open up a blank drawing canvas.
  2. Select the Shape icon in the toolbar and click on the document to insert shapes. The first shape will be your main concept in the center. Add surrounding shapes for your secondary concepts.
  3. Double click each shape to add text for the concept it represents.

Connect the Concepts

Next, connect the shapes by:

  1. Clicking the Line icon in the toolbar.
  2. Clicking and dragging between two shapes to draw a line between them.
  3. Adding text along the line to describe the relationship. Use short phrases like “causes”, “includes”, “produces”, etc.

Continue connecting all the concepts in a radiating, spoke-like pattern from your main concept shape.

Refine the Map

Refine your concept map by:

  • Reorganizing – Move shapes around and rearrange lines so related concepts are closer together.
  • Adding/Removing shapes and lines as needed.
  • Formatting shapes and lines with color, line thickness, etc.

Play around with the layout until you have a clear visual representation of the concepts and relationships.

Save, Share, and Present Your Concept Map

When your concept map is complete, give it a title and save your document. You can now:

  • Share your map with others by sending them the Google Doc link
  • Export your map as a PDF or image file
  • Present your map in documents, slides, posters and more

Some additional tips for creating great concept maps in Google Docs:

Use Symbols and Images

Replace generic shapes with icons, images, and symbols that visually represent your concepts. This adds meaning at a glance. Access symbols under the Insert menu.

Show Hierarchies

Use enclosing shapes, containers, or background colors to group related concepts into hierarchies or clusters under one main category.

Maintain Consistency

Keep fonts, shapes, line weights, and colors consistent across your entire map. This creates unity and emphasizes relationships.

Limit Line Crossovers

Minimize crossing lines as much as possible. This makes relationships easier to distinguish.

Add Examples

Include specific examples under concepts where relevant. This brings more meaning to broad topics.

With some strategic planning and creative layouts, Google Docs can produce concept maps on par with dedicated concept mapping software. The drawing tools provide enough flexibility for most education and business concept mapping needs.

Follow the step-by-step instructions outlined here, play around with different layouts, and refine until you have a polished concept map that organizes and communicates complex ideas with clarity.

More Concept Mapping Resources

Here are some additional concept map templates and guides for further learning:

Check out these tutorials for more concept mapping tips using tools beyond Google Docs: