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Introduction to Academic Reading and Writing: Pre-Write

Mind Map

Mind mapping allows you to visually and creatively represent ideas and their connections.  

  • Write the central idea or topic in the center of your paper. 

  • List subtopics or supporting points radiating from and connected to that central idea. 

  • Connect further supporting details to those subtopics or supporting points. 

  • Consider using color or images to provide yourself with plenty of visual cues. 

  • Keep your labels brief and clear.

Create your mind map by drawing or using mind mapping software like Coggle


  • Quickly record any ideas or questions about your topic.

  • Write them in a bulleted list or all over a page. 

  • Avoid editing or limiting your ideas. 

  • Star or circle important points and draw lines to indicate connections.

Free Write

  • Set a period of time (e.g. five minutes) and write about your topic without stopping. 

  • Relax and let your ideas flow without editing their form or content. 

  • After you finish, circle useful ideas or ones that you wish to explore further. 

Writing Tip Icon

Pick a prewriting strategy that works best for you. If you are a visual learner, try using a mind map. You may prefer the linear, organized practice of brainstorming a bulleted list. Freewriting may get you writing when you feel stuck.

Purdue Online Writing Lab, 2012.