Guide to understanding bubble maps

What is a bubble map?

A bubble map is a visual representation of a noun surrounded by adjectives that can be used to describe it. It is one of the many thinking maps that can help you center your thoughts, grow your creativity, and work through problems. Bubbles with related concepts can be connected with lines to show the relationship between them. Bubble maps are regularly used as part of team brainstorming efforts to generate new ideas and solve problems.

Examples of when to use a bubble map

Bubble maps are an excellent way to center your thoughts and work through problems more effectively. You can also use them as an opportunity to explore your creativity more deeply, expand your descriptive word options, and improve your writing skills.

Some more specific examples of bubble map use cases include:

Understanding team roles

The hierarchy of an organization can be complicated. Project managers can use bubble maps to visualize team roles and understand how team members interact with one another. For example, the role of 'Human Resources' could be in the center, and qualities such as 'kind,' 'organized,' and 'empathetic' could surround it.

Coming up with new product names or ad copy

Marketing managers can use bubble maps to flex their creativity and generate new ideas when trying to come up with unique new product names or write engaging ad copy. For example, the product 'modeling software' could be in the center, and the words' analytical,' 'mathematics,' and 'predictions' could surround it to help generate new ideas.

Writing a book

Writers can use bubble maps to help them outline the structure of a book they are writing and to generate new chapter headings and structure them. For example, suppose someone is writing a book about effective management. In that case, they could have the word 'management styles' in the center, and types such as 'authoritative,' 'persuasive,' and 'paternalistic' could surround it.


Team members or students can collaborate to create a bubble map together. This can help them to ‘brainstorm’, a process of quickly generating lots of new ideas without having to worry about ordering them or forming them into a coherent structure. In other words, bubble maps are good for brainstorming because they allow users to create visualizations focusing on a central idea (the center bubble). Then, you can map out additional ideas linking to that central idea. Bubble maps are also good for brainstorming during team meetings. For example, groups can create a bubble map on a whiteboard featuring a problem they might be having on the shop floor. Then, the bubbles linking to it could be where the team brainstorms solutions.

Benefits of bubble maps

Benefits of bubble maps

There are several benefits to bubble maps, including:

Better brainstorming

A bubble map helps you make the most of a brainstorming session. Being able to easily add new connected bubbles increases flexibility and allows you to quickly add new ideas and expand on existing ones without worrying about disrupting the format.

Better critical thinking skills

The unstructured layout makes it easy to quickly think of new ideas, create new connections between existing ideas, and write them down without worrying about disrupting other areas of the bubble map or thinking too hard about where they might fit in.

High-level visualization

The visual framework of a bubble map also makes it easy for team members to recall ideas quickly while in meetings and share them with other team members. If bubble maps are created online, the documents can be shared within teams, and other team members can add their own edits.

Improved writing skills

Bubble maps also help you to improve your writing skills, improve your critical thinking, and increase your creativity. These are all vital skills required by any employee in a professional workplace.

How to make a bubble map

A bubble map doesn't need to cover a single noun. You can create a simple bubble map for one word or a more complex one that features many nouns with some adjectives describing more than a single noun. A bubble map tool can help you create a more complex bubble map, such as a double bubble map that can be used to compare and contrast two items.

You can follow a few simple steps to create a bubble map:

  1. Place the noun you want to describe in a bubble in the center of the map. This noun will be the main focus of your bubble map.
  2. Create a list of adjectives that can define the noun. The order of the list doesn't matter. Write down everything that comes to your mind – you can edit the list later.
  3. Place the adjectives from your list in a circular pattern around the noun. It would help if you organized the adjectives so that connected ideas are nearer to one another to simplify the bubble map.
  4. Connect the adjectives and nouns with a line from one to the other.
Bubble map templates

Why use MindManager to make bubble maps?

You can make bubble maps by hand or in any graphic design program or use a program specifically designed for flowchart making. MindManager, an industry-leading bubble map software, allows you to create complex, detailed bubble maps with ease.

MindManager's key benefits include:

  • User-friendly, intuitive interface
  • Extensive image library—over 700 topic images, icons, and symbols to add to your bubble maps
  • Premade bubble map templates
  • Convenient file storage, retrieval, and sharing
  • Powerful integrations with file storage apps like Box and OneDrive
  • Google Docs integration via Zapier
  • Various tools and features to facilitate brainstorming and strategic planning
  • Google Chrome extension—MindManager Snap—to easily collect and import text, links, and images from the web

MindManager helps you synthesize ideas and information by providing a simple, intuitive framework for organizing your thoughts. With MindManager, you and your team can clarify complexity and collaborate in new and unexpected ways.

Bubble map templates

MindManager comes pre-installed with many bubble map templates. To use these templates:

  • Open MindManager
  • Click NEW in the navigation menu
  • Select the template you want to use
  • A preview screen will appear - check to see if you'd like to use your selected template
  • Select 'Create Map'
  • Customize the template for your specific project
Bubble map templates

Bubble map FAQs

What is the difference between a bubble map and a cluster map?

Bubble maps and cluster maps are very similar. The key difference between the two is that a bubble map is specifically used to describe a noun with adjectives. A cluster map can be used for a wider variety of purposes.

What is a double bubble map?

A double bubble map compares and contrasts multiple concepts or ideas. Once similarities and differences have been identified, these ideas can be developed further. The format provides a visual framework to help teams to develop and recall their ideas quickly.

Using bubble maps to expand your creativity

A bubble map is a visual tool designed to help you to develop your thoughts, expand your creativity, improve your writing skills, visualize existing ideas, and brainstorm new ideas without worrying about format or structure. It can be used for purposes such as understanding team roles, coming up with ad copy, or writing a book.

Visualize more with MindManager

Ready to use a bubble map to center your thoughts and develop your creativity? Give MindManager a try today and start building with our easy-to-use templates.

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