Spider Diagrams

Spider diagrams are mainly used for planning (eg an article or story) or creating and provoking ideas. Spider diagrams are not the same thing as mind maps but they can be just as useful in some ways as an idea organiser or an alternative note taking method.

Spider diagrams are very organised in a neat and clearly stuctured layout. Again like mind maps they start with a central idea and branch out. The main differences are that spider diagrams do not always use colour and there is no specific way of how you must structure a spider diagram.

The advantages of spider maps is that they are so easy and very quick to make. You draw them how you like and they'll be done in a matter of minutes. The reasons why you should you use spider maps over linear notes is that alike mind maps, they reflect on the structure of your brain. They start with a central idea, branch outwards from the centre, leaving endless possibilities.

Before mind maps were invented by Tony Buzan, spider diagrams would have been the closest thing to them. Sometimes it can be a bit of a job to create a whole mind map with all the colour and jazz if you just want to brainstorm some ideas, and that is where you use spider maps. Anyway, here’s how you do it.


  1. First you write what the topic/concept of the brainstorm is in the middle of the page, then draw a bubble around it. For instance, if I was drawing a spider diagram to decide on a topic for a poem, I would right POEM in the middle, then I'd draw the bubble.
  2. Next start with your sub idea: One of the possible topics for my poem is my dog (busta). You add the sub idea by drawing an arrow or a line from the bubble outwards. You then label it at the end of the line. Some people like to make the line an arrow, some people like to draw a circle around the label. It is up to you. There are no set, "stick to these or else" rules in spider diagrams. Mix and match, do it your own way.
  3. Add sub heading, sub-sub headings and so on. The ideas should start to flow and viloa you have your brainstorm!

Now as I said, you do not have to stick to this structure, do it the way you want and the way that suits you best. If you want, by all means - add colour. Go highlighter crazy! Again stick to the personalising principles on the note taking page to make it your spider diagram.

Now that you know how to use this brainstorming technique, consider putting it to use. You may fancy this as an alternative to jotting down an idea per line. If you prefer the old-fashioned way, fine, I never said you had to - many people still prefer the "an idea per line" technique.

Spider Diagram

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