Create the Ultimate Set of Notes

Visual mapping is a great way for note taking, even for the most complex of concepts. The very process of creating a mind map or concept map helps us to understand the topic better. And most importantly the final piece helps us to recall it. However, traditional text note taking also has great benefits. Here we explore each technique and how to combine the two to create the ultimate set of notes.

Text v Visual Note Taking

Engaging or motivational are not words you would associate with having to create pages and pages of written notes. Simply put, they can be boring to create, never mind having to read it all afterwards.

On the other hand, visual maps are more enticing. They are expressive and you can create engaging notes with short punchy phrases, visuals, analogies and associations. They are compact with everything summarised on a page. Or they should be when done right.

As they say, a picture is worth a 1000 words. Just glance at a visual map and within seconds you are processing and synthesizing the content and remembering it. It enables you to quickly scan the information to find the section you need to focus on.

For greater engagement and recall, visual notes are the clear winner.

[Score: Visual Mapping 1: Text Notes 0]


To get the maximum benefit from visual notes it needs to be a concise summary of the topic that is logically structured. Add too much detail to your visual map and it will quickly look like a mess.

This is where text notes have the upper hand, allowing you to explore each idea or concept in more detail on the page. Text based notes make it easier to scaffold into the writing process, particularly when researching for an assignment or report. And if you use the popular Outlining technique for text based notes, you’ll have a clear hierarchical structure of main ideas and supporting ideas to move you onto the writing process.

For greater depth of knowledge and analysis, text notes win.

[Score: Visual Mapping 1: Text Notes 1]

The ultimate set of notes would combine both methods, but who has the time to do both? From the very beginning Inspiration has recognised this, which is why its visual mapping environments are tightly integrated with a text based outlining tool. You get the best of both worlds!

Using Inspiration 11 to Create Visual & Text Based Notes Simultaneously

So, you’ve got your copy of Inspiration and you want to start taking effective notes. Here is our process for creating the ultimate set of visual and text based notes. Let’s look at doing this in a lecture or meeting.

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation

Grab the lecture slides or agenda in advance, open up the Outline View and add the key topics and keywords to be covered. Create a hierarchy of main ideas and supporting ideas using the Outline tool.

Do this and you’ll be honed in to what to expect and what to listen out for in the lecture or meeting.

Click to check out this YouTube video, which advocates this technique.

Switch to the Diagram View and choose your preferred layout. Now you're ready.

Outline of headings and subheadings

During the Session

Okay, you're in the session. Open up in the Map. As the speaker explores each topic, find it on your map and add a note to expand on it. Focus on listening by keeping notes brief.

If a new concept is covered, you can quickly add to this. Use the RapidFire tool for speed.

Add links to show related ideas. Keep on building your map.

Add colour for extra meaning. For example highlight key points or relationships, use to group information or identity areas that are unclear that you would like to return to later.

Curious to see how your notes are developing? Easy, just click on the Outline View. You can even add information here too.

Diagram of notes made in Inspiration

Post Session

Add images to communicate ideas visually or to provide visual analogies. This will help deepen understanding and trigger memory recall.

Evaluate how each idea relates to one another - do they make logical sense? Ask yourselves these questions:

  • How do they relate: use the link phrase bank.
  • Compare vs contrast
  • Cause vs effect
  • Part vs whole

Review and expand on your notes. You can do this in either view.

Finally use the Citation Collection tool to add any references or the Hyperlink tool to link to documents and web pages that you would like easy access to.

In no extra time, you’ve created a winning set of notes - a visual map summary and detailed text notes in an Outline text format. If you need to export to Word, Google Doc, PowerPoint and OneNote, use the Transfer or Presentation Manager tools.

Learn more about Inspiration 11 and trial for free here.