Mass import of Word documents possible?

  • 1
  • Question
  • Updated 4 years ago
  • Answered
As part of a conceptual planning process for a large mind map I am developing (and so many of you have been kind enough to help with that process - thank you!), I am looking at the possibility of, and benefit for, simply importing the 400+ Word documents I have into a set of maps.

I see the benefit of this as being that I can then hold the original content in the ma, change it as necessary and then generate a large, final file from all the linked maps that will hold the content. I can establish the relationships, links, tags and all that other great stuff that will be a value-added part of the final 700+ page resulting document.

The problem I have run into, is that in doing an import of a Word document (which works just fine) I find that it: A.) Creates a new map with the document content in it and B.) Doesn't let me do more than one file at a time.

Since I have over 400 of these files to process, is there ANY method that will let me batch import these files? Better yet, batch import them into the active map, and not a new one?

I am a .NET developer, so am not afraid of custom coding, macros or any other more technical way of doing it.. as long as it cane save me some time.

Thanks ahead of time for your comments!
Photo of Mike Danielski

Mike Danielski

  • 191 Posts
  • 6 Reply Likes

Posted 4 years ago

  • 1
Photo of Michael Deutch

Michael Deutch, Official Rep

  • 438 Posts
  • 75 Reply Likes
Hi Mike, my curiosity is piqued. Can you share what your project is? Are you writing a book? Something else? 
Photo of Mike Danielski

Mike Danielski

  • 191 Posts
  • 6 Reply Likes
Hi Michael,

Well, in a sense, yes. I am creating what you might call a book.

It is a huge reference I am creating for someone else, who is going to write a book from it. It has lots of different kinds of content: dreams, journal entries, thoughts, insights, inspirations and what not. It is over 500+ documents, 650+ pages long, and 170,000 words at this point.

I have to say that MindManager is the only tool I have ever found that I can use to organize, and very importantly, show the relationships between all of the content. It is a very interesting conceptual problem to put a ton of material out like this, then find a way to cross-reference it on several kinds of levels simultaneously.

it is quite literally, mapping my mind and experience in MindManager. I put down the raw information, and then need to go back and find ways to cluster this information in multiple ways. For example, I may compose a dream entry that has the house I grew up in, within it. I also have lots of journal entries where (in waking life) that house is referenced. On top of that, I may have an insight about something that the house represents. in the map, it is one thing, referred to repeatedly, that I have to have a way to (in an overlapping way) tag the topic "house" as: "place of my childhood", "represents me", "a place located at 123 somewhere st.". You see the challenge?

It is a HUGE (conceptual) workout for MindManager - in planning this thing - beyond the phenomenal amount of effort it has taken for me to put it together so far.

Thanks for asking!
Photo of Michael Deutch

Michael Deutch, Official Rep

  • 438 Posts
  • 75 Reply Likes
Sounds very cool. We have plenty of authors who have tackled huge projects like this in the past. Not long ago, we had the NY Times Best Selling author of a six book fiction series, stop by the Mindjet office during his book tour to share how he leveraged MindManager to write the six books, map the relationships, organize the story and characters, etc... It's very cool to hear these types of stories and how mapping helps users achieve their work products --- and in many cases, their dreams. 
Photo of Alex Gooding

Alex Gooding, Champion

  • 827 Posts
  • 208 Reply Likes

Mike, there is an easy solution to your problem A, the fact that importing a Word document creates a new map. 

Instead of importing the document, just set up the main map and highlight the topic you want the document attached to (or just click on the central topic if you want the document attached to that).

Then switch back to Word and open the document you want to import. Select all or as much of the text you want to import and click on the Send to Mindjet. The selected material should be sent to the map with the topic hierarchy reflecting the document's headings, assuming you have used heading styles, and the non-heading paragraphs contained in topic notes under the relevant topics. You can import multiple documents into the same map.

I don't have a solution for your question B, importing more than one file at a time. However doing it manually in the way I've suggested should be fairly quick and allows you the option of selecting which topic you want each file attached to if it isn't the central topic. It also means you can check if the import worked out OK and stop if the map becomes overloaded. I'm not sure how big your Word files are but I would check the map is OK and save it after each import.

You could write a macro at the Word end but I don't know how much time it would save you over selecting the material and clicking on the Send to MindManager button.

Photo of Mike Danielski

Mike Danielski

  • 191 Posts
  • 6 Reply Likes
Put another way - regarding my comment below - I wasn't sure why the subtopics were laid out the way they were. It seemed somewhat arbitrary to me.
Photo of Mike Danielski

Mike Danielski

  • 191 Posts
  • 6 Reply Likes
Wow, that was a handy trick - thank you Alex! I guess I may need to look at the structure of my Word documents because I use all custom heading styles and so I don't think it is quite "getting it" in terms of how it organizes those notes in the import map.. but, it is close! Do you know of any good documentation on the nuances of structuring the Word styles to get the best (or in my case, predictable) result(s)?
Photo of Alex Gooding

Alex Gooding, Champion

  • 827 Posts
  • 208 Reply Likes

The whole area of formatting when importing from and exporting to Word is quite complex and I'm not sure if there is any recent detailed documentation beyond the MM manual.

However the simplest thing to do is to construct your customised heading styles based on the default Word styles, as MM seems happiest with those. Generally speaking MM should match topic level to Word heading level but it will override the Word formatting with whatever default topic formatting has been applied to the map.

MM does a reasonable job of preserving Word's formatting for normal and other non-heading paragraphs which end up in the topic notes, though some adjustment will probably be needed.

Photo of Andrew Wilcox

Andrew Wilcox, Champion

  • 1032 Posts
  • 177 Reply Likes
Scan this. The most relevant blog is at the bottom of the page.
Photo of Alex Gooding

Alex Gooding, Champion

  • 827 Posts
  • 208 Reply Likes
Hi Andrew - is there meant to be an attachment to this?
Photo of Andrew Wilcox

Andrew Wilcox, Champion

  • 1032 Posts
  • 177 Reply Likes
Photo of Mike Danielski

Mike Danielski

  • 191 Posts
  • 6 Reply Likes
Hi Andrew, thank you for the link! It's funny, I had the worst insomnia last night and so I decided to peruse your web site and spent about 4 hours reading almost every blog entry you posted since 2010. If YOU had read a blog by me you would have been out like a light in 5 minutes, but unfortunately, I found yours interesting and helpful! Darn it! So, this was one of the articles I found as I lay awake from 1 to 4 AM....
Photo of Alex Gooding

Alex Gooding, Champion

  • 827 Posts
  • 208 Reply Likes

Mike, I thought I'd mention one more thing to think about just in case you are contemplating "round-tripping" documents between MM and Word.

When exporting MM actually applies its own version of the default template or whatever template you apply. This means an exported document may look exactly as you would expect but if you look closely it will contain styles with names like "MM Topic 1" instead of Word's "Heading 1", etc.

Apart from the fact that you may end up with inconsistent heading numbering if you subsequently edit the document and create additional headings, you may also experience problems if you then try to export the document back to MindManager. Somewhat ironically MM's handling of its own styles can be unpredictable, especially if you have created additional headings using Word's styles.

There are two solutions:

  1. Use Word's style editor to find and replace all the MM styles with their Word counterparts; or
  2. Use the Olympic add-in WordX to export from MindManager in the first place. WordX uses Word's templates and styles without modifying them.


Photo of Mike Danielski

Mike Danielski

  • 191 Posts
  • 6 Reply Likes
Excellent advice Alex, and thank you for sharing those details. I am actually using WordX at this point, and do like the control over the output that it gives me.
Photo of Andrew Wilcox

Andrew Wilcox, Champion

  • 1032 Posts
  • 177 Reply Likes
Sorry to have kept you awake :)
Photo of Mike Danielski

Mike Danielski

  • 191 Posts
  • 6 Reply Likes
LOL - No problem. Your timing is funny this morning too. Past two hours - sleeping? No, not so much. Conceptualizing and categorizing mind map Icons? Absolutely... apparently.

This is almost as effective as taking caffeine pills!
Photo of Mike Danielski

Mike Danielski

  • 191 Posts
  • 6 Reply Likes
.. and I am on PST to boot.