Concept Map vs Mind Map vs Knowledge Graph: What's the Difference? | Gloow Blog

Concept Map vs Mind Map vs Knowledge Graph: What's the Difference? | Gloow Blog

Last updated on 30-07-2021

Concept Map vs Mind Map vs Knowledge Graph: What's the Difference?

Concept maps and mind maps are often confused. Both are used to visually represent information and relationships. But they have distinctive structures. To further confuse things, there is a third, less-known model: the knowledge graph. So what’s the difference between a concept map vs mind map vs knowledge graph?

Let’s begin by explaining each model.

What is a concept map?

A concept map is a diagram that visually represents the connections between related ideas. The most common format is made up of shapes (the ideas) that are linked by lines (the relationships). 

Below is an example of a concept map which explains its own structure (very meta!). The beauty of a concept map is that it enables you to see the big picture – but without losing sight of the individual detail of the relationships that connect ideas.

For more information on concept maps, check out our blog post: What is a Concept Map?

What is a mind map?

A mind map is a diagram centered around one key theme. Ideas spring from the middle and sprawl outwards. This non-linear structure helps turn information into a colorful, memorable diagram that is easy to understand and remember.

Mind maps are a very popular way of organizing information for studying and planning. Below is a mind map highlighting the benefits of mind mapping (another meta map!).

Of the three visual tools we’re looking at today, the mind map is by far the most common. Frequently found in classrooms, kids around the world are familiar with mind mapping that illustrates concepts in history, geography, science.

What is a knowledge graph?

Knowledge graphs, meanwhile, are less well-known. They are a tool most frequently used in data science and computing. The Alan Turing Institute defines knowledge graphs as follows:

Knowledge graphs (KGs) organise data from multiple sources, capture information about entities of interest in a given domain or task (like people, places or events), and forge connections between them. 

Knowledge graphs, the article explains, are used to:

  • Access and integrate data sources
  • Add context to data-driven AI techniques including machine learning models
  • Generate human-readable explanations of computer systems

That all sounds pretty technical. And it is pretty technical, truth be told. 

But knowledge graphs can be used, like concept maps and mind maps, to visually represent data. For those of us that are not data scientists or artificial intelligence experts, that is how they are more useful.

Knowledge graphs connect related pieces of information, which are sometimes called “nodes”. There is no hierarchy to the information. That means that ideas don’t have to sprawl outwards from one central theme. Ideas, or nodes, are connected to each other. There is no limit to the number of connections between nodes.

The image shows a simple knowledge graph-style map, created on Gloow.


So what is the difference between concept map vs mind map vs knowledge graph?

Concept maps, mind maps, and knowledge graphs are different methods of visualizing information. The below table shows the varying features of each of these tools.

 Concept MapMind MapKnowledge graph


Or Tree structure (typically)

Radial structureFlexible, dynamic structure
Information hierarchy

No hierarchy required, but often a downward branching structure


Clear information hierarchy with one dominant themeNo hierarchy; no necessity for a “central theme”
DynamicNo NoYes
Connections between ideasLimited by space and structureLimited by space and structure, with all connections ultimately derived from central themeUnlimited
Drawable by handYesYesNo
Practical usesBusiness, education, planningBusiness, education, planningData science, computing, business, education, planning




Which tool is best?

How can learners, project planners, and knowledge seekers determine which tool is best for them?

We’ve considered the differences. But in fact, these tools share many benefits. Concept maps, mind maps, and knowledge graphs can all:

  • Show relationships between related concepts, ideas, and thoughts
  • Help improve memory recall
  • Clarify and structure ideas
  • Encourage creative thinking
  • Help visual learners understand material (while benefiting all learners)

So, in fact, they have quite a lot in common.

Of the three, mind maps have the most straightforward structure. They are extremely effective at showing how ideas relate to one core theme. Their simplicity makes them useful for school teachers and university students.

Concept maps, meanwhile, are sometimes more complex. They are popular among business leaders, project managers, and designers. Both mind maps and concept maps 

Knowledge graphs, as we’ve seen, are mostly used by data experts and computer scientists.

Deciding which tool is best depends on the complexity of the project in question, as well as personal preference!


Concept maps, mind maps, and knowledge graphs all exist to show data visually. Between them, there are important differences in structure, information hierarchy and practical uses. Which you choose to use depends on the task at hand.

Interested in creating your own visual plan? We built Gloow to combine the simplicity of concept maps and mind maps with the power of knowledge graphs. In Gloow, information is arranged in nodes which connect together infinitely.

Gloow is ideal for planning vacations, school projects, business plans, and pretty much anything else you can think of! It is intuitive, powerful, and beautiful. Connect the dots with Gloow.

Try it below for free on iOS and Android.