We have featured quite lot of online and offline ways to brainstorm and mindmap. But when you want to jot down your ideas quickly then there’s nothing quite like a simple piece of paper and pen…or its digital equivalent – a document processor. That’s what we saw when we built a mind map in Microsoft Word.
Brainstorming your ideas visually helps with clarity and allows you to connect ideas and interlink them together. That’s where mindmapping took off. You might know zilch about it, but even age old habits of doodling your ideas is better than a blank page. But you don’t have to draw aimlessly because MS Word offers you a few free templates to structure your ideas and sharpen your thought process.
Let’s fire up MS Word and take a look at 8 free Office.com templates that help you generate ideas with Microsoft Word. You can use the search field to get to the template if you have a specific term; you can drill down the categories; or you can follow the links below.
The Story Map template looks suitable for writers who are trying to outline a plot. Alternatively, it can be used by students, as intended to plan out a narrative. But it can also be used to plan out a team role-play for a given situation when you are trying to connect a solution to the underlying problem by assigning specific roles to team members.
This is a very simple step-by-step chart that can be used to describe the flow of a process. You can use the process chart to break down a complex event into a sequence of smaller action steps.
I have tried using this Word template while plotting the idea for a short story – and it worked. Along with the Story Map template, the Event Map can be a useful tool for beginner writers.
The Spider Map is a little like a conventional mind map. The large central circle represents your main idea, and the branching linear lines can be used to jot down the subsidiary ones. The description says that you can use the spider map to investigate various aspects of a single topic or just to organize their thoughts about a subject.
To be frank, I haven’t figured out a way to use this MS Word template effectively yet, so I have yet to find out how versatile this graphic organizer is. The description says that you can arrange the details of any subject or topic using this visual aid. What I have learnt is that the umbrella chart can be used to represent a core idea and the subordinate ideas around the spokes.
Using this simple columnar template, you can easily track what someone (or you) knows (K), wants to know (W), and has learned (L) about a subject. It’s a very handy aid for studying and also if you are trying to research something. Wikipedia has a more detailed explanation on its use, and as it says the KWL template can be used to reduce repetition by leaving out prior knowledge and focusing on the W (wants to know). Based on this, students can concentrate on what exactly they want to learn or how and where they want to learn it from.
Every issue has two sides and this template helps you to examine both sides of the same coin. The T-chart is a graphic organizer that can be used to look at different viewpoints and broaden your view on an issue. Anything that can be broken down into two opposing views can be stated using the T-chart.
The Fishbone diagram came out of Japan (not surprisingly). Also called Ishikawa diagrams, they are somewhat advanced idea organizers in comparison to the others we have on this list. This diagram analyzes the relationship between a cause and its effect. You can use it to drill down into the root cause of a problem by organizing a complex cause-effect event into categories. The Fishbone diagram is widely used in quality control.
The templates are mere tools. Ideas and brainstorming effectiveness will depend on how well you put them on paper or on the screen. But MS Word and its gallery of templates give you easily downloadable files that can be turned into idea organizers in a flash. Customize the templates by changing the text labels and/or adding to the sections.
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