Mapping goes by many names, including clustering, webbing, branching, or ballooning. Mapping can be thought of as a visual brainstorm. You’ll want to find some large sheets of paper for this technique, or some other surface (such as a blackboard), that will allow for many branches of thought. You can begin by writing down your main topic idea in the center of the page and circle it. Next, begin thinking of ideas that are related to that main topic and write them in blank areas around the main circle. Draw lines from the main idea to the supporting ideas. Then, begin adding details to the supporting ideas. Connect the details to the supporting ideas with lines. Drawing the lines with colored pencils may help you differentiate between the levels of ideas.
You can see an example of mapping below. This writer wanted to write a paper on civic participation for a government class, but didn’t know where to start.
By mapping out his ideas, the writer learned that there were several areas of civic participation that he knew about, but that he was really interested in writing about community service.