Mind mapping software is a great aid to creating documents of all kinds. It helps with the initial idea generation, the development of themes and the final shaping of the text - and with a bit of work you can even use it create the finished product.
Getting the best from the "Export" function means a little time is needed to understand the export options and how the software interacts with MS Word Styles.
MindGenius does a good job of exporting to Word and you can improve on this by good use of the options.
The key things to understand are:
· how Word styles are used
· managing paragraph spacing
· MindGenius Export options.
3 Create the Word Template
First step is to review or create a preferred Word template - reflecting the structure and presentation format you are aiming for. MindGenius works with Word 97-2003 compatible templates so you template will need to be saved as a ".dot".
The structure of the map "maps" onto the Word styles as follows:
· Core topic > "Title"
· Level 1 topic > "Heading 1"
· Level 2 topic > "Heading 2"
· Level 3 topic > "Heading 3" and so on
· Notes > to a style used by MindGenius called "No Spacing".
Ensure your template includes all these styles and that they are formatted how you want them.
4 Word Styles
A couple of tips regarding Word Styles.
4.1 Avoid "Normal" Style
Never ever allow use of the "Normal" style. Many other Styles are based on the "Normal" style by default and if you amend the "Normal" style you may automatically amend many of the others.
MindGenius only uses the "Normal" style for branches below a defined level, say beyond level 9. To avoid this either do not create a map with more than three or four levels (do you really want many, many levels of headings?) or set the MindGenius export option "Branches below level nn use normal text" to something like "99" to be on the ultra safe side.
4.2 Paragraph Spacing
When creating the Word file via export, MindGenius inserts an additional carriage return between every paragraph, regardless of level. If you have also set paragraph spacing options in your Word template this can result in a document where the spacing between paragraphs is very obvious.
To avoid this, edit your Word template and consider setting the paragraph options for each style with:
· "Before" and "After" set to "0"
· "Line spacing" set to "Single".
You might need to experiment with one or two exports to get this exactly right.
5 Create and Structure Your Map
Create your document content and structure (in terms of headings and sub-headings) as a map.
When you have the detailed content or body, ensure this text is attached as notes to the headings you want to use. Use cut and paste to move branch text up into the level where you want it. You will end up with a clean map, with only the headings and sub-headings showing as branches.
Aim to have no more than three or four levels as this will ensure you have no more than three or four levels of headings/subheadings in the finished document.
6 Export Options
Finally, the key MindGenius export settings:
· Select "Use a Word template" and browse to the correct templates (remember you can only use ".dot" - not ".dotx"
· Ensure "Maintain Notes formatting" is NOT checked - we want the Note in our map to use the Word formatting we have defined for the style "No Spacing"
· Ensure that "Branches below level nn use normal text" is set to a number greater than the number of levels in your map (remember that a branch in the map will become a heading in the document so don't have too many levels, say no more than three).
7 Complete the Export
View the exported document in Word. If your template was correctly specified and you mapped the levels correctly to the Word styles you will have a finished product (or nearly so). If major changes to the content or structure are needed, consider going back to the map and making the changes there and exporting again. This is important where you want to retain the map for future reference. When you are satisfied use the Word review tools, if desired, to run final checks on the content. Undertake any final formatting such as bulleting lists.
If you would like to know more about MindGenius, do visit the web site and try the product free for 30 days.
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